Warning - the article you are about to read might produce a variety of symptoms, including lightheadedness, altered vision, eye or face twitching, jerking or shaking of arms or legs, disorientation, confusion, or momentary loss of awareness.
Allow me to present a brief backstory about the the puzzle I am about to present to you. It dates from the time of ancient Egypt under the rule of King Ramenhotep the Second and his most holy cat, Pickles the Seventh. Pickles was fond of chess and one day chased a stray rook into the catacombs underneath Ramenhotep's greatest Pyramid, the Qualcomm Discount Slave Emporium, and became trapped within an area still under contruction. Ramenhotep, upon learning of this calamity, summoned his wise men, viziers, and short-term prophets in an effort to determine if Pickles was still alive. Alas, the King's advisors could not agree upon his cat's existential state, and to make matters worse his construction crew had in the meantime gone ahead and sealed off the entire section and was now hard at work with plans for a second food court and ice rink.
"What does this have to do with chess?", I hear you ask. Well, I'll tell you, oh impatient reader. Apparently the mystic energies produced from Ramenhotep's most psychic assistants, combined with Pickles and several chess pieces, mixed together into a brew of quantum chess/cat probaballistics too potent to be contained within the bowels of the Emporium. Fearing the worst, Ramenhotep declared a general evacuation of the entire area and from a great distance witnessed his greatest Pyramid explode and, from its ashes, two creatures emerged - a Quantum Phoenix, the rarest and most confusing of all birds, and Pickles the Eighth, in hot pursuit. Evading Pickles' grasp, the Phoenix flew to Ramenhotep, and spoke thus:
"Hello. My name is Fnord. Fnord the Phoenix. Your recent quantum mishap has summoned me from my native plane of existence which is actually quite nice this time of year, so I'll be brief. I bring you a puzzle, oh King, for you to solve - if you cannot, your empire will crumble and your slaves will flee and eventually become pretty good at chess and violin playing. Good luck."
Here is Fnord's puzzle.
White to play and draw (?)
Pickles vs. Fnord
Qualcomm Invitational | Egypt | Round 1
[fen]3nR3/3p1n2/8/3kp1pN/B1p3P1/p3p2p/P1P1P3/KN2b3 w - -[/fen]
And now, the question that Ramenhotep could not answer due to Rybka being 3000 years away... is this a draw? With zero pawns on the board, Black's two knights cannot mate, but with one blocked pawn it is sometimes possible. However, here we have no less than four pawns for Black to deal with. Is this an advantage or a disadvantage?