A Month of Studies: Part 2

| 3 | Endgames

For the past week, 5 hours a day, I have worked on studies. Every morning at 10:00 or so I sit indian-style on the floor of my room and begin to work with my floor board. I also have a magnetic board for when I am tired of sitting, and when I am unable to use these, I set up the position on the Shredder app on my phone and work there. 

The result of this effort? Not much, so far. I have good and interesting motifs, but I have as yet created nothing that I would be proud to call my study. Let me show you my attempts, and tell the stories of their inception. Let us begin.

I began with a simple position that I had become interested in some weeks previously: 

White wins, despite being down a rook! White threatens cxd7 or dxc7, when the pawn will queen. If Black plays cxd6, White plays cxd7 and queens, sheltered from the rook by Black's own pawn. And due to the terrible placement of Black's king and rook, he cannot do anything else either. This was my end position for the study I envisioned, but I realized that it seems rather difficult to force this position, so I added a discovered check mechanism to force the pawns forward. This was the result:

However, this was hardly inspiring, being only two moves long! Besides, I was forced to include an ugly c5 pawn to stop ...Kc5! which would have prevented the motif. All in all, I felt this could be further improved, so I continued to work on the position.
This was the result of my fiddling and complicating, but perhaps I made this study too complicated. It lacks the simple brilliance of studies by classic composers, and despite the stunning first move being clearly the best, Na3-b1, Bxb7, and Bxc7 all are ranked at about +1.50 by Shredder, which is highly aggravating, as it would take a very long to determine if they are actually "duals" (alternative wins) or wrong, drawing paths. Furthermore, the study itself is marred by less beautiful, more complicated sub-variations. A further problem is the pawn on h2, not used in the study except to make one subvariation with Q vs. B+R winning. The counterintuitive first move is one of beauty, but beyond that the study lacks grace and insight. I decided to stop trying to make this theme work for now and try another motif. Let's take a look at this one. In fact, this is pretty simple, so why don't you try and solve it:
However, this was too simple as well, and I began trying to improve it. I found quite by accident that, by adding a knight, I could introduce a pretty drawing motif:
I still wasn't completely satisfied with this effort; I wanted to make use of the possible knight promotion after ...Nd8 f8=N, which only leads to a draw in this version. I also wanted to include the slightly offside Black king in the study more. This was the somewhat disappointing result:
I was very disappointed that I was unable to actually mate the Black king. Ending the study ignominiously in a position that is still somewhat unclear hurt me, and I looked desperately for mates in a position where there seemed to be none.
Nonetheless, these early efforts seem promising, if not yet conclusive. If any of you see anything I (or Shredder) missed, or would like to reccomend a way to "fix" any of these positions, you are welcome to comment. I hope this has given you some insight into the way these studies are developed. Until next time!

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