Monday, March 09, 2015

Sixty Memorable Annotations

#32: Al-Rakib Abdulla - Nigel Short, Dhaka 1999

60 Rd8!?

Only a player with complete confidence in his understanding of pawn endings should consider this move
Joel Benjamin (Liquidation on the chess board, New in Chess 2015)

That sounds a bit like the Soltis quote. The one RdC tipped us in the comments box to Grandmaster Preparation: (King and pawn) Endgame Play. Except that Benjamin goes an awful lot further than

Never to trade down into a king and pawn ending unless you could safely bet your first-born child on the result. The reason is that K+P endgames are 90% *calculation*. No matter how much book theory you know, even a world class player can err badly.
In Liquidation on the chess board he suggests that trading down isn’t always a good idea even when you know for sure that the game should end in a draw.

Something I look for in a chess book - but don’t often get - is a memorable turn of phrase or a neat encapsulation of an idea. It isn’t just that it makes for a more pleasant read, it really helps cement learning.  Jacob Aagaard is 2700 at the chessic bon mot, that’s why he turns up so regularly (SMA4; SMA7; SMA10) in this series, and while I wouldn’t quite put Joel Benjamin in that class he’s certainly better than most.

When Benjamin tells you that at move 63 of today’s game that Short’s pawns have "race potential" you don’t need  to read anything more to know exactly what he means. Similarly, I suspect you’ll only have to see 

"In pawn endings, it is not where you go, but when you get there."

once and it will stay with you.

And these phrases are helpful too. You can find White’s losing blunder in this game, using these two concepts.

And blunder White did. The pawn ending might have been entirely drawn when they started, but as Benjamin points out, with the rooks on Al-Rakib would have to make several mistakes to lose. Swap the pieces, though, and it only takes one.

It is, as Benjamin tells you in the introduction to the game, "a fine line between a shortcut to a draw and an unnecessary extra challenge."

King and pawn Index

Review copy of Liquidation on the chess board supplied by New in Chess


Jack Rudd said...

Would 67.Kb2 have drawn?

Jonathan B said...

Yes I think that's it.

I've managed to butcher the Benjamin quote. It should say, *when* you get there. Won't be able to fix it for a few hours.

Jonathan B said...

Benjamin quote now fixed.

Anonymous said...

Unless you play in the London League and other similar refuges from rapid and increment finishes, it's almost inevitable that you will be playing endings in circumstances where quick or even intuitive decisions are needed. For practical purposes, Rook endings are likely to offer a greater margin of error, even if the pawn ending appears to offer the prospect of an instant draw.

I only partly agree with Benjamin about the need to calculate. Once your ending is inside the tablebase universe, you could substitute pattern recognition and memory for calculation. Even there the patterns of Rook and pawn endings are clearer and easier.


Tim Harding said...

The Benjamin book on Liquidation looks interesting but I think I'll wait for a better-edited second edition. You can download some sample pages in PDF from the NIC website and see for example two incorrect diagrams. On page 66 (page 4 of the excerpt) the first diagram has a black rook on b5 which was actually traded off a few moves earlier. On page 73 (page 11 in the PDF excerpt) the diagram in the RH column is also botched. So I don't have enough confidence in the reliability of the rest to buy this book. If they can't even get right the samples being used to publicise the book, what hope for the rest?

Jonathan B said...

That’s a fair comment Tim - and one I was going to make myself in a later post.

I’ve found a couple of other problems with diagrams so far too. To be fair not as many as other books. de la Villa’s 100 Endings, for example, is simply littered with typos and diagram misprints.

That said, while typos normally annoy me I still liked de la Villa’s book. And i haven’t - yet, at least - found them to be sufficiently numerous in Benjamin’s to make me think it’s stopping the book from being useful.

That said, if you’re actually going to shell out money for a book rather then get sent a copy for free it’s a reasonable expectation that the book is printed correctly.

Tim Harding said...

I should add that I have just (October 2015) bought the Benjamin book and the two diagram issues in the sample chapter that I mention have been fixed.
The flyleaf says "Second edition August 2015."
So far I have only gone through the queen endings chapter (on a proper chessboard) and then tried to solve the puzzles for the chapter in my head.
I would now recommend this book, I think. Earlier I bought Aagaard's "Endgame Play" but have found it rather hard going (it's mostly puzzles and solutions) and abandoned it after going through his worked examples.
As probably nobody will read a comment posted on such an old article, maybe you'd like to mention this somewhere, to be fair to the author and publisher?