An Intricate Endgame

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | Oct 3, 2013

This week I will show a very complicated endgame I played many years ago, in the 2001 World Open. My opponent was GM Pavel Blatny. This ending contains many exciting characteristics - passed pawns on both sides, mating threats, Zugzwangs. Through a series of adventures and mistakes the game finally reaches a rook and pawn ending. Here is how the game began:

After an unusual opening and middlegame, the following strange position was reached. White has two extra pawns, and basically if he can simplify the position (especially remove the d-pawn) he will win easily. Black, meanwhile, places all his hopes on the passed d-pawn and some tactical threats against f3.

In my 2002 annotations, I considered this position lost for Black, and that the move he played in the game was a clever trap — losing, but as good as any. In fact that is not correct, as the variation I intended in the game after 36...Nxg5 would lead to a draw.

White blundered seriously in the time scramble, letting a won position become devilishly complicated. Black found the excellent idea of sacrificing the Exchange, for now has kept the d-pawn alive, and White needs to find the desperate idea of bringing the king back to the center in order to hold on.

The position has simplified, and White is out of danger — of a loss, at least. But the position is still subtle and study-like. White has to make a huge decision about to which wing to send the king.

The king has escaped to the queenside. Now both the black bishop and pawn are under attack. It is clear which is the most valuable...

Just as White had to decide to which side of the board to send the king, Black now has to make a critical decision. To capture with the a- or c-pawn? One road leads to a draw, and the other...

Not a perfect game, but a very unusual one. A huge battle took place, full of strange positions, study-like themes, and time pressure mistakes; which is why I dug up this old game to include in my column.



  • 3 years ago


    What were your ratings at this time??

  • 3 years ago


    Thank you for the article Bryan.Enjoyable and instructive.Amazing the situations that arise in OTB play at the highest levels.

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    It's ok to be bitter about the scholarship. The world is very far from being the perfect place, where everything goes according to pure merit...

    But persistance pays. 

    Brian has a measure of creativity and clarity in communication, that is very hard to parallel. Few players of his level have this gift, and when they do, it is treasured by all. 

    Your career is all ahead of you :-) I'm sure that you can see that. 

  • 3 years ago


    Yes ,Bryan- it's really Chess Art ! Both sides played very well, thanks!

  • 3 years ago


    An instructive article!

    Going over your endgames and "queenless middlegames" certainly gives one a feeling about how a strong master looks at such positions. 

    Speaking from experience, I can tell you, that this later reflects on my own thinking in my own games (anybody who looks at the last post in my "first FIDE tournament" thread will see that). Keep these great analysed games coming. 

    - - - - - - - - - 

    On another note, although I come from a very different field to yours, I can totally relate to a situation where people less capable, less talented and less ambitious get the support that you should be getting. I've been there too. 

    However, don't hurry to jump into the conclusion that this has "costed you your chess career". You are still very young and your entire career is still ahead of you. With such talent as you have in communication, it can be a very brilliant one indeed! Not to mention that GM is also not out of reach. Keep on plowing! :-)

  • 3 years ago


    Some don't understand the difference between bitterness and truth, and how some choices that are made by others can have a long-term detrimental effect on someone else.

  • 3 years ago


    What a game. Loved it.

  • 3 years ago


    Nice game. Bryan, sometimes God closes a door but opens another one. Maybe He had better things in store for you.


  • 3 years ago


    Cool Ok A Good One!!!!!Cool

  • 3 years ago


    Ohh boy, did I have fun reading this! Thank you very much!

  • 3 years ago


    " This decision by the committee pretty much destroyed my career as a chess player, since for years I could hardly play, nor get any kind of training, due to financial reasons."


    No offense man, but this is crazy.  What if there had been no committee or scholarship in the first place??  You would never have known your career was 'destroyed'.  Glass is half full, man.  Because of this you had some cool adventures and are writing for this site largely because of them. 

  • 3 years ago


    I bet that win felt good. Blatny is a big name to beat.

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    You seem a bit bitter about the scholarship.

  • 3 years ago


    That looks more like an Endgame.  Bad title.

  • 3 years ago


    Very insightful, thank you for the article! Also, there seems to be a typo in the title where "endgame" is missing a letter 

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