Slow and Steady: The Endgame Grind

Slow and Steady: The Endgame Grind‎

GM vbhat
18 | Middlegame

This game was from the last round of the Continental Championship in Brazil. After my loss to Vescovi (analyzed in my last article), I had 4/6. I then proceeded to struggle horribly, scoring only 1/3 against lower-rated opposition. I won my 10th round game to get to 6/10 and a shot against a solid FM in the last round. It was a long game, and I think it may have even been the last to finish in the entire tournament. The key to figuring out the endgame questions will be schematic thinking - there aren't many tactics in this game!

Question 1: What would you play after 13.Re1?

Question 2: What would you play after 18.Nxf3?

Question 3: What would you play after 24.Kf1?

Question 4: What would you play after 38.Kc3?

Question 5: What would you play after 53.g5?


Of my games from Brazil, this is maybe the one I'm the happiest with. I had some cleaner wins (the blindness that affected me on move 33 was my only real mistake, I think), but this took a full effort. The difference in the opening phase was that my opponent didn't ask himself what I was planning to do - he simply  made his own moves as though he was playing in a vacuum. The key in the endgame was a series of schematic plans - e.g., rounding up the c4-pawn with a bunch of knight moves; improving the position of my rook from b8 to d6; improving the kingside pawn structure with an eventual ...f5-f4; and arranging a breakthrough with ...b5. This sort of schematic thinking is often the decider in endgames where there opponent doesn't have a whole lot of counterplay or active possibilities.

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