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See previous contests:
The 2007 Present Hunt | The 2008 Present Hunt | The 2009 Present Hunt | The 2010 Present Hunt
The 2011 Present Hunt | The 2012 Present Hunt | The 2013 Present Hunt

RULES FOR THE 2014 HOLIDAY PRESENT HUNT: Each clue below refers to a chess game in our database, and these games contain a banner that you can click on to claim a present. Be the first to find the game and click the banner to claim your prize. We will be adding more clues to this page at random intervals until December 24th, 2014. See our Official Rules to view the prizes and for other important information.

NOTE: You are not currently signed into In order to claim a prize, you must have an account. Registration is easy, free, and confidential. If you don't have an account already, visit our Registration Page page to get a free account now! If you do have an account, sign-in so you can claim prizes.

Sorry, there are no unsolved clues right now. We will post several clues each day, so keep using Chessgames and you're bound to see a special top-of-page announcement when a clue is released. Good luck!

THESE CLUES HAVE BEEN RECENTLY SOLVED: [click here for full list]

clue #32: prize claimed by The HeavenSmile!
It's a Small World

Hint: There is no need to work out titles of the movies or the years they were released.

SOLUTION: V Borovikov vs N Maiorov, 2005
PRIZE: The book Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition from New in Chess
COMMENT: East meets west in this puzzle, where Disney animals are brought into accord with the Chinese Zodiac. When you arrange the zodiac animals in traditional order (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig) the math spells out 1203*237 + 18732*58 - 53 + 93 which is 1371607.

clue #33: prize claimed by AnimusEtOblivio!
Play fair, iunior.


SOLUTION: Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1978
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: Shown is a Playfair Cipher which decodes to "AXLONGXGAMEXBYXKARPOV" when using the standard ABCDE/FGHIK/LMNOP/QRSTU/VWXYZ tableau. (The use of that tableau was suggested by the word iunior used for junior.)

clue #34: prize claimed by BVer!
Bolt from the Blue
   E L G C H X F

SOLUTION: D Reinderman vs M Pavlovic, 2003
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: When you read along the diagonals starting in the upper left corner, it reads "ELEGANCEXSHOULDXBEXLEFTXTOXSHOEMAKERSXANDXTAILORS." That's a quote by Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann. The solution is based on the Bolztmann contstant, 1.3806488 x 10-23 JK-1. (Thanks to member WannaBe for the inspiration for this clue.)

clue #35: prize claimed by 7krzem7!
G Whiz

SOLUTION: J Cavendish vs R Marsh, 1990
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: Pictured is a diagram of the apparatus used in the Cavendish Experiment of 1798, in which Henry Cavendish determined the gravitational constant G, and thereby the mass of the earth. (Diagram from A Question and Answer Guide to Astronomy by Bely, Christian, and Roy, 2010)

clue #36: prize claimed by BVer!
It Takes a Villain

SOLUTION: F E Hamond vs W E Evill, 1916
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: Pictured is evil-doer Reverend Amos Howell from Superman: The Animated Series. He is an evil Reverend, and this is a game by Reverend W. E. Evill.

clue #37: prize claimed by druid!
A Regular Clue


SOLUTION: J Friedel vs G Markzon, 2005
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: The above statements are regular expressions displayed in Perl/Python style format. The lines mean, in order: starts with a 1, contains "14" or "40", contains "34" or "53", and contains a string of the form "3-(any)-(any)" followed by an identical string. The only 7 digit number that meets these criteria is 1340340. (This game is not a coincidence: another J. Friedel wrote the definitive book on the topic of regular expressions.)

clue #38: prize claimed by BVer!
Tom's Rebus

SOLUTION: Alekhine vs A Vida, 1929
PRIZE: A six month subscription to Chess Evolution Top GM Secrets from Chess Evolution
COMMENT: The images are a pictorial representation of the first few lines of Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim's song Aguas de Marco (Waters of March):
   A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone
It's a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun
The question mark indicates the missing item, the word "life", which in Portuguese is "vida".

clue #39: prize claimed by Sastre!
It's Golden

The golden calf, back in business. Believe the hype. Here's a mnemonic that is logically suited for Wednesday's test: If debris is nearby, breathe in the autumn air.

SOLUTION: E Lie vs D Madsen, 2006
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: What's golden? Silence is golden. Some of the words here have conspicuous silent letters. In fact, every third word does: the L in calf, the I in business, the E in hype, the M in mnemonic, the A in logically, the D in Wednesday's, the S in debris, the E in breathe, and the N in autumn. That spells LIE-MADSEN.

clue #40: prize claimed by The HeavenSmile!
Missing Words

Find the missing words. Which one is different? Add one if it has an even number of letters. Then double it if it starts with a vowel.
  2. TIDE
  1. HOUR
  1. HOLE
  1. BOARD
  2. DRIVE
  3. VOICE
  1. ON
  3. GRANT
  1. CHILD
  2. BIRD
  3. WASH
  1. SHINE
  2. WALK
  3. HONEY

SOLUTION: A Billio vs E Ladanyike-Karakas, 1981
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: For each set of three, find the word that links up to the others. The solutions are RED (seeing red, red tide, red carpet), GLASS (hourglass, glass ceiling, Google Glass™), PIGEON (pigeon hole, pigeon English, carrier pigeon), OVER (overboard, overdrive, voice-over), CARRY (carry on, concealed carry, Carry Grant ;-), BRAIN (brainchild, bird brain, brainwash), and MOON (moonshine, moonwalk, honeymoon). In each set, one of the words is special in the way it links to the missing word, e.g. in the first set SEEING is different because it comes after while the others come before. Take the number by the special words and apply the rules, this gives 1-4-7-8-2-4-9.

clue #41: prize claimed by tpstar!
What's Next?

SOLUTION: S Rosenthal vs Zukertort, 1880
PRIZE: A $150 shopping spree at the Chessgames Store
COMMENT: The goal is to enter the next word in sequence, based on the number and name of the page you are on. For instance, when it says "one", you type "two". Most of the in-game tips were meant to be humorous, but a few were useful. The complete solutions and explanations are:
  1. one = two (spelled out numbers)
  2. ttwwoo = tthhrreeee (double each letter)
  3. III = IV (roman numerals)
  4. rouf = eivf (changing the letters in a specific order)
  5. Davison = Baker (the 5th and 6th doctors of the Doctor Who series)
  6. hexagon = heptagon (names for 6 and 7 sided polygons)
  7. hét = nyolc (7 and 8 in Hungarian)
  8. 21 = 34 (the 8th and 9th numbers in the Fibonacci sequence)
  9. LAMECH = NOAH (the 9th and 10th decendants from Adam in the Old Testament)
  10. NONE = ODIUMS (anagrams for the 10th and 11th elements, neon and sodium)
  11. KLOP = ROLYAT (the 11th and 12th US Presidents, backwards)
  12. UXFMWF = UIJSUFFO (Add one to each letter of TWELVE to get UXFMWF; add one in each letter of THIRTEEN to get UIJSUFFO)
  13. RI = VT (postal abbreviations of the 13th and 14th states to join the US)
  14. APBONITUSA = TROCOTUSTV (the initials of the first 10 words of the 14th and 15th amendments to the US Constitution)
  15. Zukertort's Ra7+!! = referring to Zukertort-Rosenthal, 1880 from the 15th round of the Rosenthal - Zukertort Match (1880), implying that the solution is the 16th game of the same match.
Congratulations to the winner!

clue #42: prize claimed by crawfb5!

MP3 playing ability required; if your browser cannot play MP3 files try downloading it
to your hard-drive (right click; Save As...) then play it in your favorite MP3 player.

SOLUTION: Stockfish vs Houdini, 2014
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: The audio is a recording of Harry Houdini in 1914 using early Edison technology. He was offering $1000 to anybody who could prove that it was possible to draw air while trapped in his "water torture" apparatus.

clue #43: prize claimed by druid!
All Hands on Deck

*** TOP SECRET *** Missives will be sent at the following times: 6:22:30, 9:22:30, 9:00:00, 6:07:30 (x2), and 12:30:00. Good luck and godspeed.

SOLUTION: G Speed vs N Littlewood, 1968
PRIZE: A Four Month Premium Subscription to
COMMENT: This is a clue that has to do with naval codes, which brings to mind semaphore flag code. Each of the clock times, if interpreted in semaphore (with the right arm representing the hour hand) spells out G (6:22:30), S (9:22:30), P (9:00:00), E (6:07:30), E (6:07:30), D (12:30:00). Godspeed—it's Graham Speed!


  1. This list is designed to provide some helpful hints and tips to win the contest. See the Official Rules for complete information.
  2. Bookmark this page and check back frequently. You never know when the next clue might appear, and as soon as it does, the race is on.
  3. Each clue has a title. Occasionally the title is critical to solving the clue, most of the time it's intended to be a hint, and sometimes it's utterly meaningless.
  4. Some clues involve initials. E.g., the clue "B.F. vs B.S." might refer to Bobby Fischer vs Boris Spassky. But don't expect the obvious: we like to be intentionally misleading, too.
  5. If you are trying to solve a clue, keep your eye out for a seven-digit game ID number, for that is the index to all games in our database. For example, to see game number 1234567 you just go to (Alternately, you can enter the 7-digit number into our EZ Search on the homepage.) Be aware that the valid range of game ID's goes from 1,000,000 to (approx.) 1,780,000. So you don't have to examine all 10 million numbers, "only" about 780 thousand.
  6. Because every valid game ID begins with the numeral "1", if you see a sequence of 7 items try to figure out how the first item could possibly be interpreted as a "1"--once you've got that, the rest may follow.
  7. Starting in 2012, all clues will have titles. These titles may provide additional hints to help solve the problem, although some are red herrings.
  8. Some clues draw upon popular chess literature and anecdotes.
  9. Not all clues will narrow the field down to a single game; some clues may refer to more than one possible game. Some clues are very hard exactly because they are very vague. For clues like these, you'll simply have to search through the possible games and hope that you get lucky. We're not cruel: we try to keep the number of possibilities down to a manageable number.
  10. Some clues involve anagrams. For example, if a clue was "Apply Humor 1850" then you might want to look at Paul Morphy games from 1850. ("Apply Humor" is an anagram of "Paul Morphy".)
  11. We like to pick games from collections, so don't rule out the Chess Game Collection Search as a solving method.
  12. Some clues are puns, similar to what you might find on our Game of the Day. The Game of the Day Archive might come in handy, even though it only goes back one year.
  13. For some clues, a knowledge of chess players and chess history is helpful--but there are also references to literature, language, pop culture, mathematics, and the arts.
  14. Many clues are intentionally misleading, in the spirit of crossword puzzles.
  15. Some clues look easy and truly are. We call these "race clues" because once it's released, the race is on to get to the right game page and claim the prize.
  16. Sometimes a clue will be very hard, and then a subsequent clue will make a reference designed to act as a hint for the earlier very hard clue. So if everybody is stuck on a real stumper, pay careful attention to the new clues being released.
  17. We promise that we will never insert hints into the HTML of the pages. This includes the filenames (e.g. what the clue graphic file is named in our web server) as well as "alt text" that we use for our graphics. In other words, there's no point in viewing the hidden elements of the HTML page, because we assure you that it will never help.
  18. Don't ask the chessgames administrators for any clarification of the meanings of clues. Some of them are designed to be confusing and ambiguous; we will refuse to clarify their meaning. However, we sometimes offer additional hints to clues which go unsolved for a long period of time.
  19. To give everybody a fair chance, there is a limit of five (5) prizes per member. If you are skilled enough to win 5 prizes you'll have to stop playing until next year.
  20. It is possible to design software that downloads thousands of games in bulk to scan the HTML pages for prize graphics. This is regarded as cheating. We have measures in place designed to detect and prevent this. Anybody caught using these methods will be disqualified, and the prizes will not be awarded but instead returned to the prize pool.
  21. will be the most important site to use for all clues, but being skilled with can also help a lot. Some of the clues will involve anagrams, for which the Internet Anagram Server is an indispensable resource. Cryptograms are easily cracked with an online tool such as QuipQuip. For questions of history, art, mathematics, or a number of other subjects that our clues reference, Wikipedia will surely come in handy. Having a good dictionary will also be an asset.
  22. There is no rule against discussing clues in progress. Traditionally, this is done at the Kibitzer's Café.
  23. Since many clues refer to player names, our Player Directory will be a valuable tool. When searching for players by name, it's probably best to use the Advanced Search on the homepage.

    and finally:

  24. This contest would not exist were it not for the generous contributions of our sponsors. Whether or not you win, you should take a minute to visit their websites and see the fine publications and merchandise they have to offer.

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