One of the recreational past-times we enjoy at my club is to bring along interesting positions and games and analyze them together. It's always funny and instructive, because you can pit your ideas against those of your teammates, and you actually work and learn without even noticing it. And you never get stuck : there's always someone to fuel the discussion, while you're sipping you coffee/beer/tomato juice.
Last saturday, Fabrice, an endgame lover, brought the following position. Glancing at the diagram, I thought : "damn, another super-difficult study", but I felt better seeing the position came from an actual game. OK, so it was probably less difficult than all those Reti mindbenders. Well, actually, it wasn't that easy, and we didn't fully crack the position despite spending around 45 min. on it. However, we had lot of fun and I learnt a damn lots of things in the process.
So here is this position with some suggestions to toy with it :
a) Set-up the position on a real board and think about it for a couple of minutes like you would do in a real game. Then put it on your favourite engine, and play the position as black. Try to draw. If you can't do it, go back to the starting position and try to win as white. A good time-control to practice this position would be something like 15/15 vs. 15/0, but you can take more time if you want.
b) Send a challenge to a friend - you both analyze the position on your own and play it one against the other at a quick time-control (20/0 for example). Of course, you don't use the computer during your preparation. Write your conclusions and check them with an engine.
c) Try to crack the position : set it up on the board and analyze as deep as you can without moving the pieces. Write every variation you have found. Then move the pieces around and improve your notes (the total process may take 20-40'). Then check all your notes with an engine. Draw some conclusions and rules about these pawn endings.
d) Bring the position to your chessclub and invite your teammates to find the way for white and black. Listen carefully while sipping a coffee/beer/tomato juice ;-)
What is important here is not to find the solution (it's actually quite difficult), but to learn from the trial and error method.
I still haven't checked my own analysis with an engine, so I will post my thoughts in a week and the engine corrections shortly after. If you have already found the solution, please don't post it and spoil other people's fun :-)
See you soon, for other intriguing travels in the world of chess !