as-Suli's Diamond

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From Wikipedia (English):
The problem called "as-Suli's Diamond" went unsolved for over a thousand years. In shatranj, the "queen" (counsellor) is a very weak piece, able to move only a single square diagonally. It is also possible to win in shatranj by capturing all pieces except the king.

as-Suli commented:

“This ancient position is so difficult that there is no one in the world who would be able to solve it, except those I have taught to do so. I doubt whether anyone did this before me. This was said by al-Suli.”
David Hooper and Ken Whyld studied this problem in the mid-1980s but were unable to crack it. It was finally solved by Russian Grandmaster Yuri Averbakh.

as-Suli gave the first move of the solution (1.Kb4) which was the same as Averbakh's solution; Averbakh was impressed with the obvious prowess of the Arab master.

Solution (from the German Wikipedia) is in the comments. You have 1000 years, starting NOW...

Solution

From de.wikipedia (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu-Bakr_Muhammad_ben_Yahya_as-Suli):
Yuri Averbakh gave the following main line in the 1980s:

1 Kb4 Kd6 2 Kc4 Ke6 3 Kd4 Kf6 4 Kd5 Kf7 5 Ke5 Kg7 6 Ke6 Kg8 7 Kf6 Kh8 8 Kg6 Kg8 9 Fd2! Kf8 10 Fc1 Ke7 11 Kf5

and the king will capture the black Fers and thus win. It was later found, with the help of computers, a stubborn defense, which Averbakh suspected that as-Suli also knew.

6 ... Kf8 7 Kd6 Ke8 8 Kc6 Kd8 9 Kb6 Kc8 10 Kc5 Kd7 11 Kb5 Kc7 12 Kc4 Kd6 13 Kb4 Ke5 14 Ka3 Kd5 15 Kb3.

Thus, the starting position is reached with Black to move. It is a Zugzwang. With the previous extended triangulation White has given the turn to black. Black loses after 15 ... Kc5 because White transfers the king and Fers to b1 and c1.

Another possibility is:

15 ... Ke4 16 Ka2 Kd3 17 Fb4 Kc4 18 Fa3,

...and White wins because the black king can not continue to attack the white Fers and the black Fers falls on a1.

Solution in PGN

The PGN doesn't quite work as the Bishop gives check at some point.

[Event "As-Suli's Diamond"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "800"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[FEN "8/8/8/3k4/8/1KB5/8/b7"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. Kb4 Kd6 2. Kc4 Ke6 3. Kd4 Kf6 4. Kd5 Kf7 5. Ke5 Kg7 6. Ke6 Kg8 7. Kf6 Kh8 8. Kg6 Kg8 9. Bd2! Kf8 10. Bc1 Ke7 11. Kf5 {and the king will capture the black Fers and thus win} 1-0

[Event "As-Suli's Diamond"]
[Site "Variation"]
[Date "800"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[FEN "8/8/8/3k4/8/1KB5/8/b7"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. Kb4 Kd6 2. Kc4 Ke6 3. Kd4 Kf6 4. Kd5 Kf7 5. Ke5 Kg7 6. Ke6
{ It was later found, with the help of computers, a stubborn defense, which Averbakh suspected that as-Suli also knew. }
6...Kf8 7. Kd6 Ke8 8. Kc6 Kd8 9. Kb6 Kc8 10. Kc5 Kd7 11. Kb5 Kc7 12. Kc4 Kd6 13. Kb4 Ke5 14. Ka3 Kd5 15. Kb3
{Thus, the starting position is reached with Black to move. It is a Zugzwang. With the previous extended triangulation White has given the turn to black. Black loses after 15 ... Kc5 because White transfers the king and Fers to b1 and c1. Another possibility is: }
15...Ke4
(15...Kc5) 16. Ka2 Kd3 17. Bb4 Kc4 18. Ba3 {..and White wins because the black king can not continue to attack the white Fers and the black Fers falls on a1. } 1-0

Chess Quotes

 

"...In some places words have been replaced by symbols which, like amulets from a witch's bag, have the power to consume the living spirit of chess. The notorious "!!" can never approximate the human emotions which accompany an "excellent move" or a "great idea".

 ...Oh, those exclamation points! How they erode the innocent soul of the amateur, removing all hope of allowing him to examine another player's ideas critically!"

— Tigran PETROSIAN