Pawn Fatale. Part 2.

Pawn Fatale. Part 2.

| 11 | Endgames

We return to the position studied last week. Let us review our findings from the previous game. Black is better because of an extra pawn but it is not enough for an easy win. Black should be careful of not coming under attack on the kingside, especially to try not to lose the h4 pawn right away. White will try to hold the kingside and try to open the game there as all his pieces are concentrated there. Black eventually should push the passed c-pawn which will put extra pressure on white. There are many pieces present but the pawn structure is locked which makes finding a good plan a challenge. Usually, in such positions players wait for some time and slowly maneuver to see if the opponent will make mistakes. Since white does not have a clear plan either, a waiting strategy might be a correct one.


Here is the second game played between me and my second. This time we switched sides and I had the white pieces. He found an interesting plan, already mentioned in the previous article. This plan is a bishop transfer to the d7-square. On f7 it has limited space for movement and besides indirectly defending the h5 pawn does not do much. On d7 it will threaten the g4- pawn which is something that white has to figure out how to defend. I found an indirect way of defending it but then went astray somewhere later in the game. The maneuver is dangerous and it is not easy for white to regroup to counter it.


The following ideas are important to keep in mind:

  • When the position is closed and there is no clear plan look for a piece in your position which is the least productive. Find a better square for it and this will be your short-term plan. In the game my opponent transferred the bishop to d7 where it has more tasks to do.
  • When defending you do not always need to directly defend the attacked piece or a pawn. Instead you can counterattack his pieces or pawns. In the game white chose not to defend the g4-pawn but to build the pieces against the h4-pawn.
  • Watch out for tactics. Qg5 was a horrible blunder it left Bd7 undefended and put black's pieces in a cramped position. These are the signs that the move is a tactical miscalculation.
  • Being up a pawn in rook endgames sometimes is not an advantage. In the game the passed pawn was blocked by the king. The white rooks were inactive on the h-file, while the black rooks harassed the king and weak white pawns.

Overall, the game showed how many hidden resources there are on the kingside. Both sides missed winning opportunities which shows that positions with limited plans can be complex. And one should be alert in any type of position. Now, it is time to see how world-class player Ivanchuk handled the position. The game ended very quickly as a result of Ivanchuk’s persistent play. He rid himself of the deadly c-pawn right away. Instead he aimed at piece activity. How many of you can sacrifice the only passed pawn you have? Not me… Ivanchuk has not fallen for the deception of the passed pawn and correctly judged that his position without the pawn is better. It is a simple but eye-opening solution. His move is counter-intuitive but it falls under the category of transformation of advantage. He had an advantage of the passed pawn and now he has an advantage of an active black queen, weak white king and open c-file.


The following ideas are important:

  • Ivanchuk played very aggressively exchanging the passed pawn for piece activity.
  • This game reminded me of great games played by World Champion Alekhine. He liked to create play on all sides of the board. Here, Ivanchuk first threatened white's position on the queenside and after deflecting white pieces from the kingside made a decisive blow there.
  • Piece activity, passed pawns, and a weak opponent’s king are a winning combination.

Next week we will analyze the following position:

More from WIM energia
A Farewell!

A Farewell!

Positional Methods From Carlsen's Play, The End

Positional Methods From Carlsen's Play, The End