Monday, February 28, 2011

This is the end II

JB v A.N. Other, January 2011

HIM: "Draw?" 

It wasn't an unreasonable offer from Black.  His flag was hanging and the position which we'd reached was, after all, drawn.

ME: "Let's play it out."

Usually I'd have agreed to split the point straight away, but this was the last round of the tournament and ours was the only game still to finish.  The final game of the final round going all the way to stalemate seemed rather appealing from an aesthetic point of view so I decided to play it all the way to the end.  As it happens, though, and somewhat to my embarrassment, the game did not in fact finish in a draw.  I hadn't even remotely been trying to win, and yet win I did.

I think I'll be playing this ending out next time, draw offer or not!  Anyhoo, this game, played just three days after the ending that I'd seen at Golders Green which had inspired the original post in this series, rather goes to show that I'm not the only one who can manage to come up short when only rather basic endgame technique is required.

Desperately in need of some stranger's hand

Was our man (rated in the 170s ECF - that's 2000+ elo equivalent) unlucky?  Yes, absolutely.  Rushing to beat the fall of his flag, and at the end of a long night, he simply put his king on the wrong square when faced with a choice of two.  In the heat of battle it could have happened to anybody.

On the other hand, as Jesus de la Villa writes in the introduction to his book,

... if you intend to reach a certain rating, I will not say that a good command of the endgame is essential ...


...if you neglect this part of the game, many half points, or even full points, will now and then elude you.

pdf sample from 100 Endgames You Must Know

Or, to put it another way, it's not enough to know that the position at the head of today's blog is drawn.  We must also know how to draw it and be able to put that knowledge into practice when the time comes.  Perhaps, then, it would be more accurate to say that when we end up losing positions such as these it is partly due to bad luck and partly what we call 'playing chess'.

So we can conclude that these basic, easily studied, positions deserve our respect and attention?  OK, but which are the fundamental positions that we need to know if we are to avoid coming a cropper?  I guess Jesus de la Villa gives one answer to that one, but since I haven't read his book I've had to make up my own - much shorter - list.

I wonder who amongst our esteemed readership,
(a) knows the theoretical evaluation of each position;
(b) knows how to proceed;
(c) has had such a position before in a game (blitz/rapidplay/otb/correspondence) before? 
Personally, I can say yes to (a) for most of the 19 but, the king and pawn positions aside, I do considerably less well with (b). I guess, then, I've got a bit of work to do or I'm going to end up rather embarrassed should I start get to say 'yes' a few more times for (c).




White to play


Black to play


White to play


Black to play



White to play


White to play






White to play


Black to play


White to play



White to play


White to play

Positions taken from/inspired by:-
Bruce Pandolfini: Pandolfini's Endgame Course
John Emms: The Survival Guide to Rook Endings
Ian Mullen et al: Master Chess: A Course in 21 Lessons

This is the end


Tom Chivers said...

This post made me feel... guilty!

Anonymous said...

Basically, you're a w*nker ;) To coin a phrase.


Jonathan B said...

Of course to make use of your endgame knowledge you have to endeavour not to obtain a lost position in the middlegame - as I've been doing of late.

Tom Chivers said...

Guilt and now shame, as I one through 19 I worked out my a,b,c...

Jonathan B said...

Hopefully you're doing ok with


and 18/19 T.C.

Jonathan B said...

Oops. 18/19 that should have been.