Saving a Draw with a Stalemate Blunder
In a recent five-minute blitz game, both my opponent and I were running out of time. However, I was at a decided disadvantage. In the endgame, we both had two pawns but he also had a knight. In addition, although we each had a passed pawn, his was only a move away from the final rank. After 48 moves, the following diagram shows the board position.
After promoting his pawn to queen, he proceeding to eliminate any possible counterplay by me without trying to force my king into a position to be checkmated. After 51 moves, the following diagram shows the board position.
He had 22 seconds remaining on his clock. My only hope was to move quickly and see if I could stay alive and hope that he ran out of time first. After all, it’s not uncommon for a losing position to win if the opposing player doesn’t manage time adequately. I quickly moved a5 and then had one more second at my disposal than my opponent. Seeking to avoid a loss if he would run out of time, he focused on capturing my remaining pawn (so that I would have inadequate material to win) rather than attacking my king. After my a5 move, the following diagram shows the board position.
What is the one move that Black should not make?
If Black had chosen a6, he probably could have won the game. Instead he quickly moved the queen to a6, which ended the game in a stalemate. Managing time in a blitz game is important, but it’s also important to focus on the enemy king.