The Winner Takes it All

The Winner Takes it All

WIM energia
Nov 26, 2010, 12:00 AM |
11 | Endgames

As I mentioned in the previous article, my friend sent me the endgame to take a look at it. At the end of the article you will find the details of who played which side. At first, I couldn't figure out what is going on in the game but after playing two games in this position the situation became more or less clear. Despite an extra pawn, black's position is worse. White has a better pawn structure: three pawns on the kingside can potentially create an outside passed pawn. On the other hand, black is left with two pairs of doubled pawns. White has a knight that blocks the black passed pawn. Black would be better off not having a d4-pawn, this would open a long diagonal for the bishop. Bishop on g7 is a bad bishop and does not have yet good prospects. We have to look on rooks activity too. White is in control of the c-file and is planning doubling the rooks there and penetrate the 7th rank. Black controls the e-file but there is no benefit of this control because there are no penetration squares: the knight on d3 controls the e1-square, from the e2-square the rook cannot get anything because the knight defends the f2-square.

Who would be better if we trade the knight for the bishop? I think black would have good chances for equality then because the knight is better than the bishop. What would happen if we trade all the rooks? White’s knight covers all the penetration squares so the black king would not be able to get into the game. White will play g3-f4 and bring the king into the center to control the d-pawns. Then the knight is free to go to attack the weaknesses in the black camp.

In the first game I chose the black side. It seemed to me that black has to put the rooks into the game by opening another file or by creating some weaknesses in the white camp. This is how the idea of a6 came into my mind. Black cannot afford to wait because white has a clear plan of 7th rank penetration. Since black is on the defensive, exchanging a pair of pawns benefits the defending side. In case white pushes the pawn to b7 it would be a real target for the black rooks. Letting black take on b5 opens the a-file for the black rooks to enter the game. One of black's main ideas is to chase away the knight from the d3-square.


The following important ideas can be extracted from the game:

-          Black much immediately create counterplay by attacking the knight on d3.

-          This can be achieved by opening another file on the queenside.

-          If white does not exchange the pawns, but keeps it on b6 then it will be a target for future attack.

We got captivated by the idea of exchanging on the a-file, thus opening the b-file, which white can be the first one to take. The second game features this idea. Over the board there are some moves that are extremely hard to make for black. But once you find them the position is defendable. My speculation is that black did not go for the variation with a6 because of the lines that are shown in game 2.


The ideas elucidated from the game:

-          After the exchange on the a-file it seems that white took over the b-file but in reality the weakness of the last rank let itself be known and instead black was the one to take the file.

-          Black used the same idea as in the first game to attack the knight on d3 to tie the rook to the defense of it.

-          Then, tying one rook to the defense of the knight while exchanging the other rook gives black equal chances.

-          Black has to be careful about keeping the pawn on the same color square as the bishop because otherwise the pawn might be lost.

Let us look at the real game. The winner of the recent tournament in LA, the Metropolitan International, sponsored by, Enrico Sevillano had the white side of the game. He showed impeccable endgame technique. I am truly impressed by his play, no wonder he ended up winning the tournament. On the black side played my good friend Tatev Abrahamyan; this was definitely not her tournament, she was out of form but still managed to finish respectably. During the game she did not come up with a defensive plan, while Sevillano steadily improved his position. At first sight it is hard to foresee the dangers that black faces in this position.


For the next week I chose a position from the Superfinal Russian Women's Championship that is still underway. Try your hand at it!


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