Salvaging a gem of xiangqi 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.

Red could have played P5=4 on the second move and checkmated on the 3rd move.

Suddenly the proverb “He laughs best, who laughs last” flashed accross my mind. Bingo! It could not be more appropriate a title for this short puzzle.

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