Endgame Essentials: From Khanty to Krulich
Here's a snippet of my latest piece for Chess^Summit. Since uploading images is a pain, here's a link to Chess^Summit so you can see the whole thing!
In spending Thanksgiving here in Pittsburgh, I finally got to sit down and start my preparation for December’s Pan American Intercollegiate Games. This year’s edition of the Championships will be in New Orleans, marking my second trip there this year, having already made the trip south for the US Junior Open this past summer. Last year I managed to hold my own on board 4 in Cleveland, scoring 4.5/6 with no losses throughout the tournament to earn my Candidate Master title, while also producing this tactical gem against a Webster University team:
This year, our team is much stronger, and I know my teammates will be depending on me to perform once again for a strong team finish. I will play again as a fourth board, and I plan on making the most of my second appearance for the University of Pittsburgh
Speaking of making the most of opportunities, how about the Pitt Panthers defense this past Thanksgiving? Last Saturday, I went to the final Pitt regular season game against Syracuse, in which the two teams for a college football scoring record in a 76-61 Panther win. How does this have to do with chess? Hear me out – Pitt was never in danger of losing the game, consistently up two to three touchdowns throughout the second half. However, the defense lacked the technique to lay the knock out punch to end the game. There was no critical third down stop, late interception, so the Orange kept scoring and forcing Pitt to prove it could stay on top.
Our game is a little more brutal. Fail to put your opponent away, and you leave yourself open to even losing – no matter how much material you are up! So technique is probably one of the most important elements of tournament preparation.
As of last week, I thought I had my mind made up on what I wanted to discuss in today’s post (and trust me, I will at a later time), but last Saturday’s game pushed me to add to my ongoing series, Endgame Essentials, which you can find by searching the title in the search bar.
Endgames, generally speaking, are the toughest phase of the game, and a lack of good technique can make the difference when it comes to converting an advantage. With Saturday’s game in mind, I decided it was time to expand on my Endgame Essentials series.
For today’s post, I’ve selected four recent non-World Championship games to discuss. I chose two positions because I thought the planning behind White’s play in each game was particularly instructive, and really punished Black for poor decision-making. In the latter two, I will discuss “the grip”, a term that was formally introduced to me by chess.com’s death match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura. I will briefly go over that game, and then share a recent Nigel Short game in which Black tried to break the grip, which ultimately decided her fate.
With the exception of Carlsen’s game, I chose games from the Khanty-Mansiysk Women’s Grand Prix, and the recent Beautiful Minds Krulich Cup, which featured many strong players in a round-robin rapid tournament. Let’s start with the Vallejo Pons’ game from Krulich.
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