This is the fifth post in my blog series where I try to improve my chess with four exercises. The first post explains my methods and thoughts and the others describe my attempts at this exercise.
My first exercise is an endgame position. White to play.
I failed to find the correct move because I couldn't count and forgot a basic endgame principle. My first thought was towards Rd1 a reasonable looking move. I eliminated all moves exept for d4 because they were rapidly losing (they either immediatly blundered the pawn or let me bring my king in). I then looked at the idea of moving my rook to the sides and analysed (correctly) that these move failed. This left me with only Rd1 (Rd2 and Rd3 made no sense). I then calculated a line with Rd1 d4 followed by Re1+ bringing my king round and when needed Rd1. I counted the number of moves needed and it worked ! It took six moves each and because I'm white I get to pick up the pawn. This is where counting comes in, I didn't count one of these rook moves (the second Rd1) so 4+2=6. So what was the right plan ? Well you know how I said that Rd2 and Rd3 made no sense that is without thinking about the principal that kings are better on opposite sides of the pawn for the player with the rook. I needed the waste a tempo to get the opposition that meant that he was in zugzwang (chess terms overload, google them if you don't know them they are key in endgame you must know them and the idea behind them). So the plan was Rd2 (or Rd3) then after d4 Rd1 and the loss of a move is great for white. Ke4 loses to Kd6 and Kd5 lose to Kd7 followed by white going to the other side of the pawn.
1st puzzle: Passed
This position has equal material on the board and the only threat against me was the attack and my rook, though the back rank mate is important too. I started by looking for mate because the rooks looked powerfull but the black king escapes in all the cases. I then told myself that it could be material gain and quite literally immediately saw the fork. The line that the computer played was quite easy I think that the lines with Qxa3 (that I only noticed thanks to the comments) would have been more testing though I think I would have noticed the combination with Re1+.
2nd puzzle: Passed (press on flip board it is the one with two arrows, second on the left)
I laughed when I played the first moved and it said problem solved but then that really describes the puzzle, white can't do anything. I looked at the position counted the pieces, black was worse, my first thought was for a fork or trapped rook. That didn't work so I looked at the pawns to have a complete material count, I thought ''What if I pushed the f pawn ? '', The king can't get there because of the rooks and both rooks are blocked by a pawn. I then saw that the f squares on all open side lines is covered and that is other than the capture of the b4 pawn the only way to stop my pawn. If you take the b4 pawn than I take back and the pawn will be unstoppable (Kd1 Re4).
3rd puzzle : Solved
The next puzzle had to be mate, black's podition was too bad for anything else. My first thought was towards Re4+ but g2 defends well. I then took the ideas of mate down the dark diagnal and applied them to Rf4+. However black takes then mate arrives on the freed diagonal.
4th puzzle : solved
In this puzzle the material count shows that white is the exchange down. But tactics on g7 look tempting. Rg7+ fails to, for instance Qxg7. But black's king is going nowhere and black can't really create an attack. So we can play any build up move as long as it doesn't give black counterplay. The only piece that isn't in the attack is the queen and it's best square must be c7.
5th puzzle : failed
I need to get black to run out of moves on the queen side because if he does he will lose his kingside pawn and I will be closer to the queenside. My first candidate move was a5, if bxa5 then bxa5 c6 c5 and he runs out of moves, right ? Wrong. I missed the blatant c5 that forces a draw. I looked at c5 as a first move and eliminated it because with b5 than I don't get the passed pawn I would in the a5 variation.
Failing the last puzzle left a bitter taste in my mouth but I was quite pleased with my run of form in the first four puzzles. I was pleased to have had the correct plan in all the puzzles even in the one I failed I just hope I can execute it in a real game.
My real game was a 15+15 game because I am training my rapid time controls. Also it is better for analysing, when you spend more time on a game the mistakes are more important and in depth.
The game was interesting. I lost the exchange and a pawn early on with a tactic where I was hoping to win a piece. Before the analysis here is my game with computer analysis :
Trivia question Conrad Von Hamster refers (probably) to which historical character (think WW1) ? Well I think I messed up by letting him win the exchange because of the move Bxf3 but engine analysis shows that it was Qxe7 that was the main blunder. I should have played Qd5 and then the position would be just about equal. After that it was just a question of suboptimal moves by both typing the position to my favour. I think Qf3 was probably the moment where it started being very hard to win. By the time the queenside pawns were swapped off I think it was a draw, when he played g4 the game was basicly drawn but it was still quite testing. I think I should probably learn knight vs rook ending (and how to draw it). Without the pawn it would have been harder.
The Middlegames lesson was about queen vs rook+minor piece. The position is usually better for the side with queen but can sometimes be better for the side with rook+minor. Here are the main points, for the side with the queen :
-Keep your queen active, if it has no targets it can be very weak.
-Swap of into an endgame but think about fortresses, this is the main trick for rook+minor piece main trick.
-You need to get pawn majority to get a passed pawn.
-Try to weaken the adversaries pieces so that they are undefended so that you can target them.
For the rook+bishop :
- Put your pieces on safe active squares try to limit the number of weaknesses and keep them protected. This can help you get a fortress.
- If you have more active pieces try to pin the queen down.