Sometimes, less is more! Underpromotion

Sometimes, less is more! Underpromotion

IM vinniethepooh

On a regular basis, we encounter amazing, highly original ideas in chess, who's beauty can give one's soul unparalleled joy. One of these, for me is the tactical motif Underpromotion.

It is when a pawn promotes, to a piece rather than the queen. Usually this is done to avoid stalemate, although there are some cases where there is a different purpose (for eg. promoting to a knight because of it's unique way of moving).

Of course, we can always look at studies to understand these, but in this blog, I would like to use games from practical examples. It proves that it can happen in reality also; it's not just a myth!

First, I'll start with a well known opening trap, which has seen dozens of players fall into it. It comes from the Albin Countergambit variation. The following is the original game:

Note that 7...fxg1/Q?? runs into 8.Qxd8!-Kxd8, 9.Rxg1 and material is equal. Only 7...fxg1/N!! does the trick as it comes with a check! And directly 7...Bg4?? cannot be played because of 8.Nf3! Even some decently strong players ( Rating of 2000+) have walked right into this trap!

Here is a very simple but instructive example of avoiding stalemate:

Note that only 78.Nxd8!! works. While promoting to a queen or rook produces stalemate, promoting to a bishop results in a wrong colour bishop draw.

And here is a big example, where the result of underpromoting to something other than a knight will not cost you 1/2, but 1 point. Enjoy!

With check! And Black picks up the queen on the next move, and has a winning position since White cannot play 31.Kg1-Bd4! followed by mate on the next move. The king has to go to the e-file, where it will be checked, and then Black will pick up the f8 bishop and enjoy an extra piece.

To end, here is a brilliant game where the player with the White pieces got the chance to underpromote twice in one game!!

Wow!! Instead of a knight, if something else is promoted into, it falls into a fork from the opponent knight. Exquisite!

And I am very happy that I have got the chance to underpromote once in an OTB game and it was successful!

Lesson of the day? Sometimes, less is more! And the next time you decide to turn on Auto-Promote to save a couple of seconds on the clock, beware, as you might be messing up a very important game!


And use this idea at your own risk! 


That's all for today, I hope you enjoyed the post!

See you in the next one!