Things that Happen on a Long Diagonal
Today we continue with the endgame examples from the recent Washington International chess tournament. There were quite a few games where queen and bishop were well-coordinated and participated or could have participated in a mating attack against the other side's king. These games ranged from a grandmaster to an expert level but nevertheless were interesting to analyze. Here, I would like to share with you a few of these examples.
The first and the second examples are from Gareev's games. The first example is unorthodox - one side sacrifices a piece in the endgame for a few pawns and manages to draw even without perpetual with the queens still on the board. How can it be? I remember scrolling through this game during the tournament and the first impression was that black planned the piece sacrifice all along and aimed for the position a piece down. As I prepared this game for the article it dawned on me that black did not have that much of a choice of whether to sacrifice the bishop. In the starting position B:f2 is forced. After the bishop sacrifice Sarkar played very well: he kept an eye on the d5-square and harassed the white king all around the board with checks.
Gareev managed to consolidate and defend his weak h-pawn with the king. Being up a piece, Gareev has to be winning it is only a matter of finding the right plan. From the next example you will see that the idea of forming a battery along the long diagonal is familiar to Gareev. Maybe he was low on time or saw some ghost and did not end up playing for the d5-break.
In the next game white has three pawns and a bishop for a rook. So material advantage is on white's side. Moreover, one of the pawns is a passed pawn. Black's king is shielded by one pawn only and can be easily attacked. Gareev has an option to trade queens or not to trade them.
Gareev correctly avoided queen trades as with the queens on the board white has an additional advantage of the weak black king. Nevertheless, black's position is solid: the queen controls the 7th-rank and can help out the king if needed, the rook is ideally placed on a8; it attacks the a-pawn and at the same time defends the 8th rank. So what is next, how should white break through? The next few moves are in Karpov's style. If you watched some of his games, he almost always improves the king position before setting out to complete an active plan. Gareev does the same here.
Black's next move is a mistake. First of all, if you are defending and have a chance to grab material even if it is risky - go for it! Because at least you will have something to hold on to, when the attack dies out. Secondly, the check on h6 is not that scary because after Kg8 white has no follow-up -- the rook on a6 defends the g6-pawn. And finally, after Kg7 one is asking the white pieces to step onto the long diagonal, after which the game will be decided because the queen and the bishop on the long diagonal are too strong to defend against.
Today we looked at two examples from the Washington International chess tournament, where one side had a queen and a bishop attacking the king. Both games were Gareev's, where in the first example he did not use the idea of building the Q+B battery along the long diagonal and in the second example he implemented this idea and the game was soon won. The next article will look into more examples of Q+B in endgame attacks.