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Wrong rook's pawn

Wrong rook's pawn

Flatfish
May 26, 2013, 11:17 PM 0

One of the pieces of chess advice which I most regret not following is "Study endgames first." I've always found the endings to be boring and dry compared to relatively exciting openings and middlegames, and I always hope that I will be able to checkmate my opponent before reaching the dreaded endgame minefield. After so many years of being this way, I doubt that I will ever really feel comfortable in the ending!

Today I want to discuss a recent ending which I didn't lose, but also didn't win, despite a substantial advantage. I had 16 secs vs. 57 secs. in the diagram position as black and chose the move 48. ... Be4+. The principle behind this is that when your opponent has more time than you, and a possibility of delivering an avalanche of checks, it's quite likely that you will lose on time, as discussed in the previous post. Now, sixteen seconds might sound like a lot, but it doesn't feel that way when you are playing the game. I generally start to activate panic mode at anything below 20. In fact, from watching videos I have noticed that coping with very small amounts of time well is a hallmark of strong players.

Anyway, I played 48. ... Be4+ to get the rooks off, and there followed 49. Kxc4 Bxg6 to reach the next diagram position. If I had had white here, I would have been cautiously optimistic of drawing. Why? Because this is a bishop vs. wrong rook's pawn position. Black only has two pawns; if he loses the pawn on e6 then it's a draw because white's king can hide on a1, black will never be able to give check, and if black's king approaches, white will be stalemated. If you haven't seen this before, then I have just given you a powerful weapon! Check out the Wikipedia article for more details, and make sure you can draw the position Ka1 vs. a-pawn, bishop and king against a computer; it's pretty easy, trust me!

So anyway, white has that possibility to aim for. He needs to get rid of the pawn on e6 and so one possibility that springs to mind is 50. f5. Then if 50. ... exf5 51. gxf5 Bxf5 and white just runs to a1 and draws. But white, to his credit, didn't play this, because it would have been a terrible blunder! Black has 50. ... Bxf5! and if 51. gxf5 then 51. ... exf5, and white's king cannot deal with the a- and f- pawns; black will queen something.

White ran after the a-pawn instead. I noticed that I couldn't approach the white pawns from the right, so I decided to get in behind them. I would use the a-pawn as a decoy and then get my king to e4 and take white's pawns with a cast-iron win in a B+P vs. K position. And another bonus to eliminating the white pawns was of course that it would only be a draw if I ran out of time, since white has a bare king.

The game ended like this:

with a draw. I had no choice after white played f5; the e-pawn is eliminated by force because if black takes with the bishop, the white pawn now queens as black's king cannot stop it from d4. But in fact, I believe that black can win from the diagram position. Crafty (the chess program) can certainly beat me! In fact, it can beat me with two completely different plans! You can check it out yourself here. You are white; good luck!

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