Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Endgame of the Week

I haven't been playing much chess, or studying much chess recently for one reason or another. So when I do look at things, they tend to be about things I enjoy. And I must admit that as I get older, I become more interested in endgames. Downloading TWIC each week and then sorting the file according to number of moves lets one see which endgames are being played.

This week's longer games included a pawnless rook vs bishop ending which finished in a draw. The defender knew the technique of heading the king to the corner not controlled by the bishop. There was a knight and bishop checkmate, and some interesting queen and pawn and rook and pawn endings, including R + e and f pawns vs R which ended in a draw. I must admit, I don't know the theory of these endings, but roughly know that f and h pawns are mostly draws, and a and h pawns are mostly draws. It is something worth looking at to build my technique.

I was most interested in the following position, not least because a GM was getting bashed by someone 300 rating points lower.

I would imagine time was a factor here as white is about to play his 61st move. White will definitely lose their a-pawn, but can win material on the king side, which should be enough for victory. The best first move is 61.Ng7, when black's f-pawn falls. However, white played 61.Nd4+ and black traded on d4 going into a lost king and pawn endgame. 61..Bxd4 62.exd4 (to be fair, keeping the minor pieces on didn't hold out much hope either).

However, this game ended in a draw after both sides promoted.  From the diagram the game continued 62..Kb5 63.Ke2 Kxa5 64.Ke3 Kb5 65.Kf4 Kc6 when we get to the key position.

White now played the natural 66.Kxf5? missing the finesse 66.Ke5! when black's king will be forced away from d5 meaning that white will be able to capture both f and e pawns (and g and h if he wants). After the text move black promotes  the b-pawn in 8 while white promotes  the g-pawn in 7, but it is black to move so they promote at the same time. This leaves a dreaded queen and pawn ending which are notoriously difficult to win.

So once again, a natural looking move, a capture, turns out to be not the best move. A simple finesse of the king would have led to victory for white against a player 300 points higher rated. Still, a draw was not a bad result for the white player.


  1. 61. Ng7 runs into 61...f4. Neither 62.exf4 Bxf2 nor 62.gxf4 Bxe3! 63.fxe3 g3 is appealing.

  2. Hi Igor, 61.Ng7 f4 62.gxf4! when 62..Bxe3 runs into 63.fxe3 g3 64.Nf5! catching the pawn whatever: 64..gxh2 65.Ng3, or 64..g2 65.Nd4+ Kb5 66.Ne2 guarding g1.

  3. Wow Carl, I didn't calculate this far!