Monday, November 18, 2013

Blue or Red Pill? XXIII

S&BC Blog 'til I die

So what's winning the World Championship? The Berlin Defence and rook endings, that's what. Clearly Magnus is a reader of this very blog. There's no evidence for that, but it is a fact.

Black to move

Anyhoo, just in case today doesn't bring us four in a row, here's a little action to keep you going. A pair of positions based on diagrams that appear on the last page of Minev's A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames (he, by the way, says he got them from Levenfish & Smyslov), Black has the move in both cases, but there's only one draw.


Half-point saved right here

This is the draw you're looking for

Rook and pawn Index
BORP? Index


Anonymous said...

I would presume the version with the pawn on g6 is the draw. With or without being checked, the White King reaches e5 and is attacking the f5 pawn in the position with the pawn on g4.

That looks quite simple, so am I missing something more subtle?

Obviously the White Rook must stay on the a file because of Rg8+ unless it can go sideways with check.


John Cox said...

Now this one I know – the one with g pawn on g4 is losing, because White takes his king over via b1, breaks through to the wide open spaces and mooches up to e5; Black has to play …Ra5+, White replies Ke6 (or Kf6 if possible), Black can only play …Kh7, White plays Kf6, and Black is zugzwanged up to his armpits.

By the same token, if there are only two pawns on the kingside f4/f5 wins while f3/f4 is a draw, because the zugzwang doesn’t work since you can’t both cramp the Black king and attack the f-pawn. I once saw Ikonnikov blunder as Black at the Isle of Man by not playing…f4 in such a position when he had the chance, and while I couldn’t quite follow the distressed torrent of Russian that followed, the gist of it was that every properly-schooled 12-year-old in Russia knows better than this.

I trust you’ll be bringing us properly explained coverage of how Anand lost these two endings, Jonathan?

Jonathan B said...

There was a post I was planning for today, which I didn't quite manage to finish.

The gist was, "Rook endings are bastard hard". Lacks a bit in terms of specific analysis, but gets to the heart of the matter, I feel.

Matt Fletcher said...

I'd have gone for g6 being the draw, simply because there is only 1 weakness vs 2 in the other position. Though I wouldn't have much of a clue how to win or draw either.

John Cox said...

To be fair, the Berlin now seems to be losing this world championship as well. It’s a difficult situation to assess. There seems to be some competing evidence.

Jonathan B said...


perhaps it is a little straightforward but the important thing about this kind of position is that you get an f-pawn - as per JC's first comment. Two weaknesses is all well and good but if you take the f and g pawns away and let White win Black's h-pawn for free then it's going to be a draw anyway.

Incidentally, I reached a position like these two during a (rare for me) post mortem and Penarth. My opponent didn't see at first how White could make any progress at all. I had to show him the idea of just marching the king across. I think it's hard for some folk to spot - even if higher rated types such as yourself don't even have to think twice about it.

Out of interest, do you think the match has been good/bad/indifferent for sales of your book?

Anonymous said...

Regarding JB's question on whether the openings used in WC matches are good for the sales of books on those openings or not. That reminded me of buying Danny King's book on the Najdorf after the 1993 Kasparov-Short match and Chris Ward's book on the Dragon after the 1995 Kasparov-Anand match.

Now, I've tried to think back a long time back to the 1990's to remember some games in World Championship matches with exciting, sharp and complex openings: Bg5 Najdorfs in the 1993 Kasparov-Short match and the Dragons in the Kasparov-Anand match in 1995.

That is what partly motivated me to take up competitive chess.

Since then I cannot remember a WC match containing a memorable opening or a theoretical battle.

I cannot see many people being inspired by for example, the Berlin endgame or the Reti opening to take up competitive chess or buy books on those openings....?

John Cox said...

I don’t really know. I’m not sure it’s still in print anyway, though QC did send me fourteen quid or some such sum a little while ago, so perhaps it’s still selling away somewhere.

I bet the humdinger that was game eight didn’t do sales any good, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s time to ride the wave with a second edition!?

ejh said...

Well I'd buy it. Probably less on 9...Ne7 this time, you think?

John Cox said...

Yeah, definitely, Justin. The theory’s changed out of all recognition, of course, and clearly 9…Ne7 is now nowhere near the main line I thought it to be in 2006 or whenever it was.

The fact that I recently poured coffee over my computer and lost the Word documents containing the book would be a bit of a disincentive (among many), but I expect QC probably still have something.

In reply to anonymous; were there any Bg5 Najdorf’s in 1993? I thought Nigel was going 6 Bc4.

I also thought the Berlin in game one in 2000 was quite the thriller. OK, it was a short draw, but it was the most dramatic and important first game of a WC match I’ve seen, and had the longest influence by far on the game of any WC game, I would say.

I s’pose Nigel losing on time in 1993 (if that indeed the first game) was quite exciting. But, frankly, the competitive drama in that match was really limited to correct-score backers.

Jonathan B said...

93 - game 2 and 4 were Bg5 Najdorfs. 2 a sideline, 4 the Poisoned Pawn that went badly wrong

Agree about game 1 in 2000. Understanding nothing myself, feeling I was picking up from my betters was that Black was about to be rolled over ... Then Kramnik plays ...h5 and changes everything

Anonymous said...

John Cox - Sorry, I'd forgotten the 6.Bc4 games but there were 6.Bg5 games as well, as confirmed by JB. Obviously all these lines and others are covered by King's Najdorf book.

My point still stands, these openings and the Dragon are far more exciting, richer, complex, sharper (add your own words as you see fit :-) ) than your Berlins, Retis, etc

I just cannot for the life of me see how the openings used in WC matches since after 1995 can inspire people to take up competitive chess and buy these books.

Each to their own and all that, I guess.

Jonathan B said...

Don't like the Reti? Don't like the Berlin? I'm distraught Nonny. Next you'll be saying you find the French Exchange tedious.

This 'world chess championship openings were more interesting in the good old days' thesis, though, I'm really not too sure about. Yes there was a certain variety that we don't have now - e.g. the Botvinnik - Bronstein Dutches of 1951 - but really. The reality of opening play back then? Lots of short draws and non-events.


Anonymous said...

The French Exchange issss tedious though :-) 2.b3 looks like it should spice things up a bit though against the French.

I didn't include pre-93 WC matches as I was too young to follow them back then. It is certainly relevant to compare the '93 and '95 match openings to all the WC matches since then up to now.

WC matches are arguably the best opportunity to bring new people into the world of competitive chess. I don't think that has been achieved as much during 2000-2013 as it did in the '90's.

Anonymous said...

Last weekend, the 4NCL (British/English National Chess League) was taking place at various venues. The games were available very promptly and after assembling them into a consolidated database, I had a look at "Trends in the 4NCL". Despite the topicality, not a single Berlin.


Campion said...

Some of Kasparov's KIDs against Karpov helped fuel an infatuation I've never really shaken off. The famous back rank grovel was before my time but there's a game where Kasparov got his bishop cemented on f4 flanked by pawns on e5 and g5 while Karpov had pushed g4, d5 etc

an ordinary chessplayer said...

The two endgame positions were analyzed by Milton Hanauer in "Chess Made Simple" (1957). The one on the left was from a game where Hanauer had white, Ventnor City some year, and IIRC the white pawns were on a6 and f2, king on g2, but I don't remember if black missed a draw or if Hanauer gave it as a forced win from the start. He gave quite a bit of analysis to the game, as black did not resign until well after losing the f-pawn. For the one on the right he just stated it was a draw. This is the opposite of how Levenfish and Smyslov (diagrams 240 and 241 in the Batsford 1971 edition) treat the two diagrams. I no longer have the book, but someday will try digging through the back issues of Chess Review to see if Hanuaer published it there as well.

an ordinary chessplayer said...

I hereby recant. It was a false memory. Sorry about that. Before I unloaded Hanauer's book I apparently made a more or less complete PGN of it, and these positions are not in there. The closest one is the following:
[Event "US champ"]
[Site "Hanauer 1957 Chess Made Simple:pg102-103diag258"]
[Date "1936.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kupchik"]
[Black "Hanauer, Milton L"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/6k1/6p1/5p1p/PR2pP1P/4P1P1/3r4/6K1 w - - 0 41"]

41.Kf1 Ra2 42.Rb7+ Kg8 $2 (42...Kf6) 43.Ra7 Ra1+ 44.Ke2 Ra2+ 45.Ke1 Ra3 46.Kd2 Rd3+ 47.Ke2 Rd6 $1 48.Rc7 Kf8 49.Rc3 Ke7 50.a5 Ra6 51.Rc5 Rd6 52.Rc7+ Kd8 53.Rc1 Ra6 54.Ra1 Kc7 55.Kd2 Rd6+ 56.Ke2 Kb7 57.Rc1 Rc6 $1 58.Rd1 (58.Rxc6 $2 Kxc6 59.Kd2 Kb5 60.Kc3 Kxa5 61.Kd4 Kb4 62.Ke5 Kc3 63.Kf6 Kd3 64.Kxg6 Kxe3 65.Kxf5 Kf3 $19) 58...Rc2+ 59.Kf1 Rc3 60.Rd7+ Ka6 61.Rd6+ Kxa5 62.Ke2 Rc2+ 63.Kd1 Rg2 64.Rxg6 Kb4 65.Ke1 Kc3 66.Kf1 Ra2 67.Rd6 Ra1+ 68.Kf2 Ra2+ 69.Ke1 Ra1+ 70.Ke2 (70.Rd1 Rxd1+ 71.Kxd1 Kd3 72.g4 hxg4 73.h5 g3 74.Ke1 Kxe3 75.Kf1 Kf3 76.h6 g2+ 77.Kg1 e3 78.h7 e2 79.h8=Q e1=Q+ 80.Kh2 Qh1#) 70...Ra2+ 71.Kf1 Ra1+ 72.Kg2 {(1/2-1/2)} *