Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Smirin - Anand, Moscow 1994
White to play

Chess is such a simple game.

King and three pawns versus king and two. How difficult can it be?


Anonymous said...

It looks to me as though there's a neat way for Black to get a draw. The question is: can White avoid it?

Black threatens h6-h5-h4 and then f3. To stop the Black h pawn, White will need to play h4. However h4 will then be a target.

Play might go: 1 Kc3 h5 2 h4 Kf5 3 Kd4 Kg4 4 Ke4(Ke5) Kxh4 and then 5 Kxf4... is stalemate.

Is there something different White can do?


Jonathan B said...

Is there something different White can do?"

That is indeed the question. I like your stalemate idea v. much Angus - although I can reveal it's not what happened in the game.

Jonathan B said...

... and that was only half a clue.

Anonymous said...

Obviously not 1.g3, which only draws. In fact White doesn't want to make any pawn moves at present. I would try to improve White's king position, starting with 1.Kc3. Then ...h5 can be met by h4, and ...f3 by g3, so Black will have to retreat.

The other king move is 1.Ke2 threatening g3, so 1...f3+ and now 2.Kf1 so as to capture on g2.

I would expect White to win this.


Jonathan B said...

Mandarin - do you have an answer to Angus's Stalemate line after

1. Kc3 h5, 2. h4


Jonathan B said...



1. Ke2 f3+, 2. Kf1 fxg2, 3. Kxg2

what happens after 3. ... Kf4


ejh said...


Superchess said...

The stalemate idea doesn`t work as 5.Kf5!(instead of 5.Kxf4??)is a simple win. (sorry Angus!).

1. Ke2 looks like a draw after 1...f3+ but 1.Kc3 seems to win comfortably.

Anonymous said...

In the stalemate line, White should play 5.Kf5 rather than 5.Kxf4. After the forced sequence 5...f3 6.gxf3 Kh3 7.Kg5, White will queen the f3 pawn and win the h5 pawn.

In the other line, I agree with the suggestion of 4.f3. The White king and f-pawn will combine to force back the Black king and then White will take Black's h-pawn. Of course, with both h-pawns off the board it would be a draw.


Jonathan B said...


I got this position from the Grandmaster Video Series - specifically episode 10 which covered the PCA speed chess tournament held in Moscow of 1994.

Smirin v Anand went

1. Ke2 f3, 2. gxf3

and the game ended in a draw.

On the video Danny King says 2. Kf1 would have won and also that 1. f3+ was the clearest way to win (he doesn't mention 1. Kc3 at all).

So supplemental questions...

Prove that

1. f3+ wins


1. Ke2 f3+, 2. gxf3 only draws.

the position arose in an Armageddon game and both players were down to the last seconds. By drawing the game Anand went through.

Anonymous said...

1.f3+ Kd4 2.h4 h5 followed by Ke2, Kf2 and g3, with similar positions to those I described earlier. The White king and f-pawn combine to force the Black king to retreat. The winning method is triangulation.

After 1.Ke2 f3+ 2.gxf3+ Kf4 3.Ke1 Kxf3 the crucial difference is that White is on the edge of the board and can no longer triangulate.


Anonymous said...

(2) It's not so much about triangulation as White's inability to defend both pawns, viz:

1.Ke2 f3+ 2.gxf3+ Kf4 3.Ke1 Kxf3 4. Kf1, and now Black just plays 4. ... h5, 5. ... h4, 6. ... Ke4 7. Ke/g2 Kf4, when 8. f3 lets the king in at g3 or e3 and White loses one of his two pawns (and probably the race as well if he drops the h-pawn).

So White must move the king, Black plays Kf3 forcing K-defend, and then goes back to e4 and hopes he doesn't lose on time first.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that White can defend both pawns by leaving them on f2 and h3, and moving his king between the f1, g1 and g2 squares. However, he can't win that way. Attempts to win risk losing the f3 pawn, as Anonymous points out.