Monday, November 14, 2011

A rare event II

White to play and seal a move
JMGB v Drunken Knight, October 2011

I have Malc Pein to thank for this one. The commentary room of the British Championship in 1990, a snippet of chess knowledge passed on: a bishop totally dominates a knight when they are separated by two squares. Trivial if you already knew it, but I didn't and, twenty years ago though it might have been, I've never forgotten that moment.

I came to learn that Malc's* bishop/knight aside was one of those little nuggets of wisdom that turn out to be extraordinarily powerful, today's game being a case in point. More of that in a moment. Right now I've got a move to seal.

It looks like it should be relatively straight forward. I'm a pawn up, I've got a bishop on an open board and what's more his knight is miles away from the action. A simple case of mopping up, then?

Objectively speaking that might be right, but nothing's really that easy in chess is it? Especially not when you've been playing for three hours and you're on the verge of what will be a notable scalp. Chuck in a history of ballsing things up at the last moment and things start to look a little trickier.

Still, long story short, I took my time and managed to come up with what looked to be a winning line. 38 Kb4 a5+, 39 Kxa5 Nb3+, 40 Kxb5 Nd4+, 41 Kc5 allowing 41 ... Nf3 forking e5 and h4.

Initially I didn't fancy being just one pawn up with everything on the same side of the board. It was only after failing to find anything else that I returned to this position and discovered that it would actually be very good for me. 42 Kd5 leaves Black in all sorts of trouble since after 42 ... Nxh4 I have the simple 43 Be4! leaving his knight without any moves whatsoever.

This much I calculated at the board and it was enough to persuade me that 38 Kb4 was the move that I wanted to seal. Later I realised that instead of taking the pawn Black could try 42 ... h5. Then, regardless of what your engine might tell you, 43 gxh5 Nxe5! is just a draw, but instead I can play 43 g5 and now if 43 ... Nxh4 I have 44 Be4 again.

"No Garry,  two squares"
Photograph from Chessbase

Black resigned without resuming, so this game turned out to be another adjournment that didn't happen. It's a shame that we didn't get to 'finish' the game, but I got a lot of pleasure out of sealing that move. Game in x, then wind the clock back y minutes and play to the end has it's advantages, but if that had been what we we'd had here I wouldn't have had the time to think things through in the same way. Maybe we would have ended up in this position anyway,

but I can imagine it happening with me 'blundering' a pawn and only realising at the last minute that it couldn't be taken. The result might not have been any different, but it wouldn't have felt even remotely the same.

It would have felt like I'd fallen into it rather than earned it. Rather than earned my share that is. Like I say, for this win Malcolm Pein deserves at least part of the credit.

* Yes, I know it's not really Pein's, but I always think of it as his.

1 comment:

Tom Chivers said...

Good analysis, it seems to me.