Reuben Fine's "Basic Chess Endings" in action
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Reuben Fine was one of the strongest chess players in the world from the early 1930s through the 1940s, an International Grandmaster, psychologist, university professor, and author of many books on both chess and psychology.
One of my favorite chess books is Rueben Fine’s “Basic Chess Endings.” I've had that volume for years and it’s literally falling apart. In fact, I looked for an image to post and did not recognize the cover. Mine is 1969 (see my cover on the blog heading) before the newer algebraic notation versions were published.)
If I reach a position that looks drawish, or crucial for a win, I can look to see what Fine has to say about the material left on the board.
Recently, as White, I arrived at the following position after 76 .... Kxf5 (capturing my last pawn) in a hard fought battle to stay alive. Looking at my opponents three connected pawns vs my lone Bishop made me feel quite uneasy.
I found the following diagrams In “Basic Chess Endings” under the heading BISHOP AND PAWN ENDINGS:
No. 142 is the model position. White's Bishop is so favorably placed that the Black pawns must soon come to a halt. If: 1 .... P-B6ch; 2. K-B2, K-B5; 3. B-Q8, P-R6; 4. B-B7ch (not 4. BxPch?, K-Kt5!!! and wins), K-Kt5; 5. B-Kt3, or 1. .... K-R4: 2. B-Q6(to prevent 2 ....P-Kt5), or 1 ....K-B4; 2. B-Q8.
In No. 143 the Bishop has too little freedom of action to stop the Pawns.
My mission (and I chose to accept it) was to maneuver my King and Bishop to resemble No. 142 and proceed from there with the knowledge that I had a chance for a draw. Naturally, my opponent was not going to comply, but I was determined to do my utmost to get as close to the diagram as I could. I decided that my first step was to get the King in place as soon as possible.
The game followed with my move: 77. Kd3 ....
As it turned out we both made a couple of blunders, but my opponent made the last one. So, as Savielly Tartakower said "The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake."