A Pawn Up, Part 3

A Pawn Up, Part 3‎

GM BryanSmith
17 | Endgames

How does the young Anatoly Karpov win with an extra pawn? This will be the subject of today's article.

In 1972 Karpov was twenty-one years old, and a new young talent. He was competing in the Soviet Team Championship, held in Moscow. His opponent in this game was Anatoly Kudryashov. The game began in the following way. I will supply some light annotations, since the beginning is also very instructive, even though it doesn't fit our "queenless" theme:

Karpov's operation with 17.Bxc5, 18.e5, and 19.Bxc6+ reminds me strongly of a similar operation I carried out in tournament last fall:

Learning such positional themes can be applied to other similar positions. The chess student needs to absorb such patterns, making their sense of positional evaluation progressively more and more exact.

Back to the Karpov game. At this point, White is up a clear pawn and does have a won position. However, there are some positional factors that make White's win non-trivial; with less than good technique, the position could easily get out of hand.

Most important is the advanced white pawns on the kingside. Advancing pawns is always a double-edged sword. Here it would be better if these pawns were a bit further back. They are fixed on dark squares, which makes Black's potential counterplay more dangerous, since they can be targeted by the bishop. The advanced g5 pawn can also be hit by the break ...h6. This will result in "negative tension" from White's point of view. He can hardly break the tension by capturing on h6 but Black could at any moment open the h-file with ...h6xg5. Of course, when Karpov pushed the kingside pawns it was a different matter, and indeed it was the kingside pawn pushes which partially induced Black to play the very dubious 12...Na4.

Let's now see how Karpov managed to control Black's play and guide the game to victory.


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