Illingworth's Interesting Endgame Examples Taught Today

Illingworth's Interesting Endgame Examples Taught Today

GM Illingworth

(This blog post title was brought to you by Alphabetical Aerobics's alliteration and assonance 'Artificial amateurs, aren't at all amazing' )


Before you suspect fellow GM Paul Motwani of hijacking my account today, I should share with you a few endgames from last night's Big Boards Match in Sydney to prove otherwise...


Let's start with the following piece-up position...but the extra material does not always win by itself! With Black to move, what is the winning plan?


Time to find out how you did! it doesn't matter what exact moves you found, but rather if you appreciated what pawns in White's position we should be attacking, and how we position our pieces to eventually capture one of the peasants. 
A nice technical display by CM Thomas Xuan, who succeeded me as the Norths Club Champion this year after I decided coaching every Tuesday evening of the first term would be more lucrative. 
Still, I think the next example is even more instructive, especially since neither the kibitzers nor the players (rated in the 2050-2200 range) were able to find the winning idea for White in the post-game discussion...let's see if you can do better! It is White to move. 
Naturally, I saw the winning idea instantly (an unexpected benefit of being enslaved ten years ago to study Rook vs Pawns positions until I could match the tablebases without thinking). But before you hide out in a shed for a month to study chess, check if you managed to win the game...
I have one other endgame position inspired by a game from the 'Big Boards' match between the Sydney chess clubs North Sydney (my club) against St George, featuring a quite tricky endgame where White is a full piece down, but is getting into the opponent's position with the king, devastating the city while Nero basks in his Stabiae shelter, fiddle in hand...
So how would you evaluate this position?
Well done for asking whose turn it is to move! It is Black to move. 
It is easy once you see it! I have to admit that when I first looked at the related position in the game, the winning idea didn't occur to me, and the IM playing Black also missed it in time trouble, only drawing in the end. 
Still, Norths Chess Club managed to defeat the St George Chess Club 28.5-21.5 in the first leg of the club derby, so we can't complain! Whether it was a Pyrrhic victory on home soil remains to be seen...
Meanwhile, I'd like to share a couple of interesting examples from the last round of the European Championship in Kosovo. First, how would you make progress as White from the following position? (If it helps, Black just played ...Ra5). 
And finally, here is a tense endgame (or perhaps it's more of a queenless middlegame?) position from a game between two 2600+ GMs. 
What do you think of the move White played in the game, 29.Bd5? Once you have made up your mind on its strength, show me how Black should respond: 
Well, these blunders can happen to the best of us! 
Let's recap the two key skills we practiced in this article: calculating variations and coming up with a long-term plan. In sharp endgames (i.e. the second, third and last examples), the key to playing well is to be a strong calculator and find the key tactical resources for ourselves and the opponent. But in much more static endgames, such as the first example, the key is more to understand where your pieces should go to achieve some objective (often when we have a long-term endgame advantage, that objective is to attack the opponent's weaknesses or create a passed pawn). 
Still, the tactical radar is not something we should turn off when the position looks quiet, as we saw in the fourth example!
Learning more about chess is a never-ending process, and you learn a lot more quickly when you have a strong player and easily understandable teacher to help you, showing you how to improve your chess thinking and acquire new skills to make better decisions in your games. I'm always looking for new students, so send me a message if you're ready to take your chess understanding to a new level! Max