This endgame puzzle, shared by a xiangqi fan recently, has invited enthusiastic discussion on Facebook. The author of this puzzle is Mr Shen Zhiyi（沈志奕）from Zhejiang PRC (Thanks to Mr Lawrence Tan for sharing his collection of the original publication of this puzzle). According to the author, this puzzle is a modification of the endgame from a match between GM Li Laiqun（李来群）and GM Yu Youhua（于幼华）. There is no red Elephant in the original diagram. The theme of the puzzle is a succession of brave sacrifices that leads to the Angler’s Horse checkmate. However, the main line of play is not without flaw as some fans have pointed out during the discussion. I add the red Elephant so as to preserve the intended theme and rid off the draggy variations
In general, it is harder to compose a drawn endgame puzzle. My inspiration for this one came from watching a stake game played between two national players.
Converting a GM’s Endgame into a Puzzle
The composition of this miniature puzzle is inspired by the endgame in the match between Grand Master Liu DaHua（柳大华）and Master Wang BingGuo（王秉国）. Red to move and win. It’s not difficult, but be aware of traps.
While editing the games on the “2HC Checkmate Routine” page, a sudden inspiration helped me to compose this endgame puzzle.
Recently I bought a pocket-size xiangqi book 《妙破残局》. It is a collection of some 130 brilliant endgames compiled by Fu Baosheng(傅宝胜)and Zhu Zhaoyi(朱兆毅). In the left diagram below is game #16 from the book. Red wins with a stunning Smothered Mate. However, there is a flaw in the original move list. Red does not need to sacrifice his Chariot, he could have played P5=4 on the second move followed by R3+5 checkmate, a faster win!
I admire the brilliant design concept of the Smothered Mate sequence. Here we have a gem in xiangqi puzzle, if you care to give it a little polish. I managed to resuscitate the flawed puzzle by relocating a few pieces. The diagram on the right is the final product.