Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 9/2/11

The second meeting of the MCC Endgame group for 2011 saw us looking at a number of pawn endgames and trying to calculate variations. A great online resource for endgames are the articles written by Karsten Mueller on  the chess cafe site. It was one of these that I used for tonight's group. You can check out the article for yourself here.

Trying to calculate long variations in pawn endgames is an excellent training method for looking ahead in chess. In pawn endgames, there aren't that many possible moves so calculating ahead is easier than on a more cluttered board. That doesn't mean, of course, that everything can be calculated correctly. One interesting point was raised tonight in one of the positions tonight.

In this position as white you are instructed to calculate a winning variation which involves a b4-b5 breakthrough. The winning line starts with 1.Kc5.

However, Jesse Jager suggested 1.g6 as a candidate move, which isn't considered in the article. The move 1.g6 offers a decoy to the black king which is distracted from its defensive duties of the passed black d-pawn. We took to analysing this and went no further when we couldn't find a defence for black. The line runs 1.g6! Kf6 2.b5! axb5 3.Kd5 Kxg6 4.Kc5 and black is not fast enough to get to c8 with his king, nor is he fast enough to take on h4:

a) 4..Kf7 5.Kxb5 Ke8 6.Kb6 Kd8 7.Kxb7 and the a-pawn will promote.
b) 4..Kf5 5.Kxb5 Kg4 6.Kb6 Kxh4 7.Kxb7 Kg3 8.a6 h4 9.a7 h3 10.a8=Q h2 11.Kc7 and white's next move will be 12.Qh1 preventing the pawn from promoting and any stalemate tricks.

There was plenty more calculation, debate, and some pretty sore heads by the end of the evening as everything was attempted without moving pieces, as in the spirit of the article. The next Endgame Group at the MCC will take place in 2 weeks time on Wednesday February 23rd at 7.45pm, and we welcome anyone who wants to practice or improve their endgame knowledge.

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