Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mystery chess position V: messing a perfectly good endgame up

The position shown on the right with white (me) to move is from on eof my recent games at ChessWorld. White has the material advantage and a promising passed pawn on the g-file. The game started balanced until black made a tactical mistake on the 35th move and I was able to keep the advantage for 20 moves until I finally managed to come up with a series of really bad moves. It started with 55. g6 - passed pawns have to be pushed, right? As usual, rules do have exceptions. There is only one sensible move for white in the shown position. What is the correct move? (Hint: it is not 55. g6 ;-)

Lately, I have been playing mostly against players whose ratings are above mine (in this case, the difference is about 150 points). Therefore, I am loosing most of my games but I hope to improve faster by playing against stronger opponents. In the few games where I manage to obtain an advantage, I tend to make devastating mistakes in the endgame. It seems that there is some mental barrier making me look for "killer moves" instead of ensuring that all my pieces are safe (see also the interesting article "When You're Winning, It's a Whole Different Game" [pdf format] by Dan Heisman at chesscafe.com). Even after 55. g6, however, the game was not lost. Take a look at the full game with annotations for more hints on making bad moves in the endgame.


Blogger Loomis said...

There is another option on move 55 other than what you give in your annotation. 55. Kf6 also wins for white, though I admit I had some computer assistance finding this move.

55. Kf6 Bg2 56. Re6+ and now if black plays Kd5 he will block the bishop from stopping the g-pawns promotion after 57. g6 h2 58. Re1 h1=Q 59. Rxh1 Bxh1 60. g7 and promotes next move. On the other hand, if black moves the king to the seventh rank, white plays Re7+ followed by Rh7 stopping the h-pawn in its tracks.

Bg2 is a difficult idea to find if you've never seen it before, but now that you've seen it, you'll be much more dangerous in the endgame! This type of shielding out maneuver is more common than one might first imagine.

The rest of this is just my own thoughts, so take them with a grain of salt :-).

I was also interested in something earlier in your game too. I thought recapturing the knight on move 13 with the pawn instead of the queen would be good. It would half-open the c-file and you could have a dangerous rook on c1. You also then get pawn support for the e4 push and with better placed rooks opening the center could really favor you.

For example: 12. Ba3 Nxd3 13. cxd3 and your opponent is struggling to find productive moves. He might try to shut down the diagonal so he can castle, but 13. ... c5 14. Rac1 and now the c-pawn is in trouble and can even be attacked again with b4.

I think 12. a3 is not necessary as it seems the whole purpose of that knight is to take your d3 bishop, so you are really giving up a tempo. You could play Ne5 or Rfe1 there instead.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Maximus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:49 PM  
Blogger sciurus said...

You are of course right - 55. Kf6 would work, too. Also thanks for the other comments, particularly the one on playing 12. a3. I like the idea of playing 12. Ba3 instead to make castling for black harder.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Boris Shakhmatov said...

Playing against opposition that is 150 points stronger than you on average is very good for your development as a chess player. The traditional Russian approach was that you should win at most 40% of the games that you play. Remember also to study your wins too and see where your opponent might have improved his play and how you should have responded. Good luck in your games!

Boris Shakhmatov
Chessology Blog

12:24 PM  
Blogger sciurus said...

Thanks for the advice to analyze both wins and losses - I always tend to disreard the former.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Rook Van Winkle said...

Although not completely new to chess (but still much of a beginner), I just took up the game again after 25 years, and I wanted to mention I am enjoying your blog very much. Keep up the good work!

P.S. I recently started a blog of my own, quite similar to yours, to document my experiences getting involved with chess again. I’m not so sure anyone is reading my blog, but I did give your blog a mention: Rook Van Winkle's Chess Blog: Chess on the Web - Installment One

11:54 AM  
Blogger transformation said...

yasser seirawan says notably in the preface to winning chess endings that he started to REALLY improve when he decided to only play better player, lost a lot of games, and in time found himself starting to beat them.

me, unless i cannot get a game going and or it is late at night in the west usa (at 1am here, there is a lull in internet chess worldwide, and i get off work at 11 pm most days), i simply will not play anyone unless they are rated above me, or equal to.

i lost 65% of my games last year, and sincerely cultivated a negative win-loss ratio, but being a bit underated, i tend to win nicely when i beat folks 150 or even 250 elo above me!

i have this theory that an elo with 600 wins/ 150 loses, and 10 draws, if the same elo as another person who is 250 wins/ 480 loses, and 30 draws, cannot compare in skills. my math friends say that a rating is a rating, and asymtopes rule, but i am not so sure!

is carlson who is now battling world top 50 the same as other peers who got there just beating a LOT of lower ranked persons??

2:51 PM  
Blogger Rd Smith said...

Hi. This is is a very impressive site. I am glad to be a part of the first game you decided to detail. I must admit i was incredibly desparate until I made that bishop move.

I must admit it is one of the games (of my non-illustrious chess career) that i recall with pride. Come backs are few and far between in chess. thanks for the right up and please continue your work here.

Good luck and I hope to play you again some time.

Rd Smith

4:41 PM  

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