Monday, April 25, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 20/4/2011

The subject of the fortnightly group meeting was how to play endgames where one side has a piece and the other doesn't. The main emphasis was on endgames with rooks against pawns.
For instance, in this example the question is whether white should take the pawn on h2 or not? After 1.Rxh2 Kxh2 black's rook is sufficiently far enough away from the white king to harass it perpetually with checks. Therefore, white's next move is 2.b4! bringing the other pawn forward to act as a shield as well as to support the advanced pawn. 2..Rf5+ 3.Ka6 Rf6+ 4.Ka5 Rf5+ 5.b5 and black has no more checks.

If we compare this position to the last one, we see some important differences. Firstly, the pawns are not so far advanced, and secondly the kings positions are very different. Here, white's king is much closer to the pawns, while black's king is less advanced. These essentially are the factors to consider when dealing with pieces against pawns.
Of course, it gets harder with more pawns on the board, and rook against 3 connected pawns is a classic case which we examined.

These 2 positions show how difficult this subject can be. The first diagram is a win for the rook because the pawns are not far enough advanced, though in the game, it was not achieved easily. In the second diagram the pawns are more advanced, but they can be won as white's king is excellently placed in their path. The key idea to understand is preventing the rook from attacking the pawns from behind. The analysis to this endgame is from Alexander Baburin in Chess Today.

Finally, we looked at the exercises from Karsten Mueller's latest Endgame Corner article at the chess cafe site. The article deals with the related subject of the importance of the last pawn in endgames.

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