Monday, April 23, 2007

Endgame tactics

Picture this: after a difficult middlegame you have managed to transpose into an endgame with an extra outside passed pawn. Smooth sailing, right? No, not always. If your opponent has blockaded your extra pawn you could still have a lot of work left to do. Before casting around for a second target, it is often worth another look to see if the blockade is actually all that sturdy.

Here is an example from one of my games in the 1983 B.C. Open. I am Black and I would like to promote my advanced b-pawn, but there doesn't seem to be an easy way forward at the moment. Enter the tactician... it turns out that the geometrical situation is perfect for an unusual trick:
Attacking the f-pawn. If White lets it go his position will deteriorate rapidly.
2.Rf3 Qc2+!
White's reply is more-or-less forced because the alternative 2.Rf2 runs into 2...Qxf2+! 3.Qxf2 b2 and Black will either win White's queen or get a new one of his own.
3.Qxc2 bxc2 4.Rc3
My opponent had banged out his last two moves quickly and was now looking quite satisfied with himself. Unfortunately for him, I have seen a bit further:
Although this is not a check, it has similar force. I am threatening the discovery 5...c1Q+, to which 5.Kg1 is no defence because of 5...Rb1+ followed by 6...c1Q and wins. So my opponent grabbed his king and went to play it up a rank... and then froze in mid-move... and then turned somewhat red... With his time running down he eventually realised he had to move the king that was in his hand, so he quietly put it on g3, pressed the clock, and waited...
5.Kg3 Rb3!
The point of Black's manoeuvre. White's rook is now pinned against his king and he has lost control of the important c-file. My opponent did not want to see any more and resigned the game here.

1 comment:

Ryan Emmett said...

That's a really nice end to the game! It's fascinating to hear you describe the psychology behind the moves - how you could tell he felt satisfied with himself and then got a terrible shock!

When this connection of minds occurs in my games I find it electrifying. The reality of chess as a game where two minds are locked in combat is really brought to life by incidents like this. :)

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.