Funky stalemates and Underpromotions!

Funky stalemates and Underpromotions!

Jul 24, 2016, 12:13 AM |

Funky stalemates and Underpromotions! These are some of the outcomes you stumble into when you analyse your own games. I get far more out of exploring endgames I've played rather than middlegame attacks. Maybe it's because there are more moves played (hence more mistakes), but rather there are different themes than can branch off in analysis.


I was playing White in a Tarrasch French where I obtained nothing out of the opening. We landed in a Bishop versus Knight ending that looks harmlessly drawn. Imbalances in the position

Gone too far: Black to play

I had just played 43. Kg6 to prevent Black from playing Kf7. I had hoped to place Black in zugzwang where he can't move his King (without dropping his Knight) or move his Knight (without dropping the h-pawn).

I got a rude shock when Black replied 43. ... f4! when suddenly my King has venture too far forward and my Bishop is poorly placed to handle the soon to be passed h-pawn.

Do or Die: Black to play

My opponent played 48. ... b5 which doesn't make sense to me, as you shouldn't play on the side where you are weakest.

Instead, I feared 48. ... Nf1 with the idea of Ng3 to win the Bishop. After 49. Kh7 (to get the pawn moving) Ng3 50. Bg2 h1=Q+ 51. Bxh1 Nxh1 52. g6 Ng3 53. g7 Nh5 we reached the following position with White to move.

White can not play 55. h8=Q Nf6+ as the pawn ending is won for Black.

Instead, White is forced to play 55. h8=N+ allowing him to stay alive in an equal Knight endgame.

The Role of each Piece in the Endgame: Black to Move

My opponent played here 52. ... a5 which is illogical to me, for he is helping me create a passed pawn on the Queenside.

This is a good illustration of defining the role of each piece in the endgame. Black has both his King and the Knight watching over the White passed g-pawn. This is overkill.

He can free up his King by 52. ... Kg5 in order for the Black Monarch to head to h1 and capture the Bishop (that can oscillate from g2 and h1).

After 52. ... Kg5 53. g7 Nxg7 54. Kxh7 Kh4 55. Kf6 Kg3 we reach the following position with White to move.

White can not play 56. Kxe6 as he can not win a race between the far advanced Black h-pawn and his f-pawn.

Instead, White must play 56. Ke5!! with a stalemate idea of 56. ... Kf2 57. Kxf4 Kg1 58. Ke3 Kxg1 59. Kf2

Just in time! White has stalemated Black's King from ever moving (thus preventing promotion).

Unfortunately White can not promote a Queen, and in the ensuing play all pawn moves will be exhausted resulting in a draw. Fascinating!

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