Saturday, July 14, 2007

Endgames Phooey!

One of these days I'm going to have eat my words about endgames - I can feel it in the wind. A time will come when the playing strength of my opponents is such that we frequently wage balanced struggles that make it all the way to theoretical endgames. For now though, experiences like my latest USCF game remain very unusual.

White: Joshua Haunstrup (1880)
Black: Larry Pratt (1798)
Event: MCC Independence Day Swiss (2)
Date: 2007-07-10
(B42 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Bd3)
1 e4 c5
2 Nf3 e6
3 d4 cxd4
4 Nxd4 a6
5 Bd3 Nc6
This variation is surprisingly popular, and I'm not really sure why. Either players don't know the theory and just make this move because it seems obvious to attack the knight on d4 after Bd3, or else for some strange reason, everybody's really excited about a flat middlegame with a symmetrical pawn structure, and this out of a Sicilian opening...
6 Nxc6 dxc6
7 0-0 e5
Here we are, many dry moves await!
8 Be3 Nf6
9 h3 Be7
10 Nd2 Qc7
11 a4 Nd7
12 a5 0-0
Yeah, so the basic idea here for me was to center my whole game around taking advantage of those weak dark squares. It worked in the big picture, but what a vanilla way to win a chess game...
13 c3 Bc5
14 Qe2 Bxe3
15 Qxe3 b5
16 axb6 Qxb6
17 Qxb6 Nxb6
Some subtleties remained, but essentially, white will win a pawn here one way or the other, and then it'll be just a question of how to convert the endgame, grrr. 18 Nb3 Nd7
19 Ra5 Rb8
20 Bc4 Re8
21 Rfa1 Kf8
22 R1a2 f6
23 Nc5 Nxc5
24 Rxc5 Be6
25 Rxc6 Bxc4
26 Rxc4 Rb3
27 Rxa6 Rxb2
28 Ra7 Re7
29 Rcc7 Rxc7
30 Rxc7 Rc2
31 c4
In this position, I actually think that white should go for the h pawn and the simplification, but I really am not that certain. I do know that the way that I won in the game had more to do with my opponent playing it wrong in the time scramble than because I knew what I was doing. I shall have to put in some time with Fritz and figure it out... 31... g6
32 g3 Re2
33 f3 Rc2
34 Kf1 h5
35 h4 g5
36 hxg5 fxg5
37 Rc5 h4
38 Rxe5 h3
39 Kg1 Rg2+
40 Kh1 Rxg3
41 Rf5+ Kg7
42 Kh2 Rg2+
43 Kxh3 Rg1
44 Kh2 1-0


Blogger BlunderProne said...


Nice win. I was looking at the rook and pawn endding and couldn't help recognize "the rule of three squares" ( from a previous lesson on endgames.

Obviously Black misplayed that game by pushing the king side. Rather, if he worked on maintaining the rule and keeping the white's Passed pawn at bay he would have stood a better chance. Staying on the backside of passer is important, he would have been harrassed by your King eventually. But at teh same time your king was closing in on the Rook likewise his King on yours. I'll have to play it out with Fritz... I will try it first without the King side pawns to see if there was a way he could have drawn. It'll be a fun exercise.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Good stuff. I look forward to hearing what you find. Looks like I have some work cut out for me...

11:03 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

I plugged teh skeletal position of the rooks and kings with only the c-pawn ( a slight modification so I could initiate Fritz was to allow for the black to move in the given position).

[Event "Theoretical draw"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2007.07.15"]
[Round "?"]
[White "R+P"]
[Black "R"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Annotator "Duval,George"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5k2/8/2R5/8/2P5/8/2r5/6K1 w - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "36"]

} 1. Rc7 {0} 1... Ke8 {11} 2. Kf1 {31} 2... Kd8 {18} 3. Rc5 {4
} 3... Kd7 {13} 4. Ke1 {3} 4... Kd6 {10} 5. Rd5+ {65} 5... Kc6 {16} 6. Rd8 {2}
6... Kc7 {19} 7. Rd4 {11} 7... Kc6 {16} 8. Kd1 {3} 8... Kc5 {9} 9. Kxc2 {13}
9... Kxd4 {0} 10. Kb3 {Reached a theoretical draw 2} 10... Kc5 {18} 11. Kc3 {3}
11... Kb6 {18} 12. Kb4 {4} 12... Kc6 {6} 13. c5 {26} 13... Kb7 {0} 14. Kb5 {6}
14... Kc7 {6} 15. c6 {20} 15... Kc8 {0} 16. Kb6 {65} 16... Kb8 {14} 17. Kc5 {34
} 17... Kc7 {7} 18. Kb5 {1} 18... Kc8 {17} 1/2-1/2

No matter what I tried, it was a drawn position due mostly to teh position of the King. Had your king been on f1 instead of g1, you would have reached the rook. Important to note that with the king on d2, the black rook can no loger attack the c-pawn. Given that, Black's plan in the skeletal setup was to get his king to support teh attack on the pawn.

After playing against Fritz and trying a couple different paths, I checked the online endgmae database ( )usign the FEN of the position. It says its a dead draw.

I reached a position where the rooks got traded and White had K on c2 Black K on d4 and the white pawn pawn on c4 with white to move. This is a draw... the white king needs to be on b4 in order to win.

I then took a look at the skeletal position of 4 pawns versus 4 pawns on the King side. Again the king position was critical. HAd teh King been on f1 you would have been able to reach a critical opposition to penetrate on through to the other side. But I haven't played this out enough. I need to work it a little more.

This reinforces some of the ideas that Jorge was saying. Even though a game may be a theoretical draw, the player who knows how to draw that game may actually have winning chances against a player who doesn't know the technique.

I find that an endgame position you come across in a game is not the same as studying theoretical positions from an endgame book. However, learnign to recognize the proper technique ... and breaking it down to a known skeletal position helps.

10:00 AM  
Blogger transformation said...

nice post. thank you.

11:57 AM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Alright Josh,

You've been tagged. Here is the post that explains what i just said:


6:32 PM  

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