Monday, March 23, 2015

Work Avoidance

"Can Black draw with 53 ... Bxf3 54 Kxf3 h2 ?"
Joel Benjamin: Liquidation on the Chessboard

An interesting conversation about chess improvement broke out in the comments to 10 Types of Chesser III last week. I particularly liked the comment from An Ordinary Chess Player which ended with,
I'm pretty sure all the computer stuff is just a trap. I was reading an online review of ChessBase and the blogger was all glowing about how great it was going to be for his game, but a couple of years later his rating was still the same. I think most amateurs use the computer like the television and the smartphone: as a way to avoid work.
and began,
Rolf's basic idea is that you improve by testing yourself.
The conversation between AOC-P and Niall is well worth a read if you haven’t already seen it. "Rolf", by the way, is one Rolf Wetzell who apparently went from 2000 ish USCF to 2200 in his 50s. Impressive stuff.

Anyhoo, back to Benjamin’s book. I have certain reservations about the book - next week I will deal with my principal concern, in the meantime you can find a contribution from Tim Harding on the issue of typos and misprints in the comments to Sixty Memorable Annotations #32 - but one thing I like very much about Liquidation on the Chess Board is that every chapter ends with a series of exercises. The position at the head of today’s blog being one of seventeen puzzles to be found in the chapter on bishop versus knight endings.

I chose this problem partly because it sets us up for next week’s post and partly because it leads to a rather lovely and instructive (to me, at least) pawn endgame. Do spend a moment to think about it if you can. Alternatively, if you fancy a bit of work avoidance - and what is this blog for if not that? - then the solution as given in a video made by one of the players involved can be found below.

King and pawn Index


an ordinary chessplayer said...

I botched the last K+P puzzle so badly I am hesitant to offer a solution here.

AdamFF said...

Got this one, although I didn't realise how close the ending with the extra queen is. If Black doesn't needlessly play h1=Q then after 1. Qd3+ Kc1 White has to be careful to avoid 2. Kxh2 b5 3. Kg2 b4 4. Kf2? Kb2 and White will have to capture Black's b4 pawn leaving a drawn bishop's pawn position. He has to play 4. Qb3 Kd2 5. Qb2 Kd1 6. Kf2 and if 6. ... c1=Q 7. Qe2 mate.

John Cox said...

I'm drunk and useless, but isn't this one of those wrong-pawn tricks? White wins with Kxf3 h2; Kg2 Kxe4; c5 bxc5; a5 Kd5; a6 and queens - something like that? I can't be arsed to actually work it out, obviously. This is what self-improvement is absolute;y not all about, you understand.

an ordinary chessplayer said...

@AdamFF - Good point, I stopped after queening with check, which was inexcusable.

Miles - Sadler, Hastings 1995-96, after 41.Kd2xBd3.
"Black is lost. ... In such situations it is impossible to generalise and the player must use concrete calculation. Sometimes the connected pawns prove the stronger, sometimes the separated ones." -- James Plaskett, The Queen's Bishop Attack Revealed (Batsford 2005), page 25.

I will quibble -- we can generalise that disconnected pawns usually prevail over connected ones. But he makes an excellent point, the devil is in the details (especially since white only has one passed P at the moment). Same for the Q-vs-Ps ending that AdamFF analyses. The Q usually wins, but it needs to be verified.

Jonathan B said...

The tired and emotional IM JC has the key variation - the variation that made me feel this was the greatest pawn ending ever when I first saw it 20 years ago.

Adam FF has the key point about the other line - White only wins (as Shirov explains in the video) because of the presence of Black's b-pawn. That sort of thing always strikes me as rather unfair but thems the rules, I suppose.

Matt Fletcher also got the key lines on twitter, btw, but stopped at the same point as O-CP.

Matt Fletcher said...

In fairness I didn't even bother queening with check - just did the Twitter version of an 'Ivanchuk wave' after a6.

Andrew B. said...

I'm not sure why he says in the video (near the end) that he'd have "serious difficulties to win" if the Black a-pawn was on a5 instead of a7; it's still a pretty easy win for White - which is just as well for him since Black could have played a7-a5 while the White king was still on h2 (since bxa6 ep allows Kxc6 with an easy draw).

Anonymous said...

I saw the a6-trick basically instantly and felt very clever. Then I noticed that black white cannot easily stop the c-pawn and felt less clever. Then I saw that white gets some tempi because of the b-pawn and felt clever again. But I couldn't find the winning trick with Qe2 mate, so ultimately I did't solve this at all …