Wednesday, September 02, 2015

This position is drawn even without White's b-pawn

I'm flying back home today, after a short working holiday in the UK and some Golders Green chess, so in lieu of anything substantial, here's a short item that caught my eye while looking through some old BCMs recently.

This is from the issue for May 1977, page 199. "This position is drawn even without White's b-pawn."

Here's the position without White's b-pawn.

Doesn't the draw strike you as the least likely result?


Anonymous said...

I would have thought the annotation is simply saying that the pawn structure of 4v3 is drawn almost regardless of rook placement. That's how I would have understood it, rather than the literal case of removing the b pawn. Against that there are historic examples of players winning it, I thing there's one by Capablanca in GK's work on world champions.

It may be this one
which shows top British player Yates unable to hold the defence.


an ordinary chessplayer said...

Since we are being finicky, your diagram is wrong.

AdamFF said...

I lost a similar endgame a few years ago, admittedly having very little time and thus needing to play instantly for the dozens of ensuing moves. If memory serves I played h4, to set up what I thought was the best defensive structure with the pawns in a diagonal line. This left me in an awkward position though after Black played f4, as if I take it then my pawns are isolated, but if I leave it Black has several good-looking options.

Be interested to hear what I should have done.

ejh said...

Since we are being finicky, your diagram is wrong.

Heh, I'm sure there's a variation of Murphy's Law that fits this situation. I hope I have fixed it now.

Matt Fletcher said...

Muphry's law I believe? From Wiki: "Muphry's law is an adage that states: "If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written."

Anonymous said...

This left me in an awkward position though after Black played f4, as if I take it then my pawns are isolated

I had a similar position about 15 months ago.

White had pawns on f2, g3, h4. The King on e2 and the rook on a5.
Black had pawns on e5, f5, g6 and h5, with the King on f6 and the rook on b3

Black played f4, White played gxf4 and Black exf4. White then played Ra6+, met by Kf5. White then played Ra5 check and Black retreated, setting up the repetition. If Kg4 had been played, White has Rg5 check picking up the g6 pawn. Endings with the Bishop's pawn and the Rook's pawn are notoriously difficult to win and Black is also unlikely to be able to capture the pawn on f2.

As far as the defence is concerned, I knew that h4 was mandatory. I also concluded that having the King on e2 was better than having it on g2.

an ordinary chessplayer said...

Murphy's law: Anyone critisizing an incorrect usage of the word "ironic" will provide a counter-example *also* involving incorrect usage. Which is highly ironic. Unless it isn't. Who knows?

an ordinary chessplayer said...

@Matt Fletcher - I missed it the first time. :)

an ordinary chessplayer said...

@anonymous - Still "awkward". If I had black I would keep trying. (1...f4 2 gxf4 exf4 3 Ra6+ Kf5 4 Ra5+) 4...Kg4 5 Rg5+ Kxh4 6 Rxg6 f3+ 7 Ke1 (or 7 Kd2) 7...Kh3. Now I have a simple plan ...Kh1 ...h2 ...Rb1(+) ...Rg1.