Please remember diagrams are always seen from the White player point of wiev. White to play unless otherwise stated.       

Mate in two moves
The key: 1 Ra6
After 2 Kf6

A problem by the american
Paul Morphy (1837-1884),
unofficial world champion
and a legendary player.

Defying common sense but

The a7 pawn is now blocked
and any Black move leads to
immediate mate.

Really nice.

Richard Reti (1889-1929) was a
vanguardist Czech grandmaster.
This simple but amazingly witty
study by him is likely the most
famous in chess.

As the black pawn is far beyond
reach, it looks impossible for
White to draw.

The miracle comes when the
white king threatens both to reach
the black pawn and to support
the white one. Let us see.

1 Kg7, h4. 2 Kf6

Now if 2 -, h3. 3 Ke7 and
the white pawn queens.

And if 2 -, Kb6. 3 Ke5 threatening
both Kf4 and Kd6; White is saved.

In the Middle Age a manuscript
titled Bonus Socius (Good
Companion), containing some
dozens of solved chess
studies, helped some
specialised minstrels to make
a living from betting.