Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do you know how to analyse?

This complicated position was cited by Alexander Kotov in his well-known book Think Like a Grandmaster. He wrote:

I once analysed in detail the apparently simple, but in fact very tricky position of the diagram. Then I asked the people in the group to study it and in the course of half an hour write down all the variations which they thought should be examined. They were not allowed to move the pieces. Then we examined the position together and so exhausted all the possibilities it contained. It turned out that it was far from simple to discover all the special features of the position. This can be shown by the fact that one strong master in his notes wrote that White would win by 1.e8Q and gave the beautiful variation 1...Rxe8 2.Qxg7+ Bxg7 3.Rxe8+ Qf8 4.Rxf8#. He also took account of the cunning reply 1...Rg1+ which fails to 2.Kh3 Qf5+ 3.Kh4. However, he failed to find the excellent rejoinder 1...Rd2+! and Black draws. Taking the rook is bad – 2.Qxd2 Rxe8 3.Rxe8 Qc6+ and 4...Qxe8. 2.Kf3 (or f1) loses to the reply 2...Qf5+, while after 2.Kh1 there comes 2...Rd1+ with perpetual. Black has a very fine win after 2.Kh3 viz. 2...Qf5+ 3.g4 Qf1+ 4.Kh4 Rxh2+ 5.Kg5 Rc5+ 6.Q(either!)e5 Qf6#.

That is the way to work on the second important factor in developing analytical ability – the ability to find the really important lines.

Good advice, but today we are going to turn the sword on Kotov and demolish his assessment of the test position.

After the initial moves

1.e8Q Rd2+ 2.Kh1

Black is not obliged to settle for perpetual check. He has another, much stronger idea:


For a small price Black destroys a key player in White's attack and transforms his pawn majority into a powerful force. This idea is somewhat counter-intuitive because it allows White to keep two queens on the board. However, it turns out that the “queen pair” is not very effective!


There were many other choices:

a) 3.Qxc8? Qd5+ and mates;

b) 3.Qce5 Rxe8 4.Qxc5 Rd8 5.Qh5 Rdd2 6.Re1 Rxh2+ (6...c3 7.Rc1 Kg8 8.Qh3 Re2 9.Qh5 Rbd2 and White is helpless) 7.Qxh2 Rxh2+ 8.Kxh2 b4 and Black is winning;

c) 3.Qxb2 Rxe8 4.Rxe8 Qc6+ and wins;

d) 3.Qe4 Ra2 4.Qce5 Qxe5 5.Qxe5 b4 and wins;

e) 3.Qee5 Rb3 4.Qe1 Qxa3 and Black is winning.

3...Rf2 4.Qe1

If 4.Qee5 Qb6 5.Qe6 Rc6 6.Qe4 Rcf6 7.Qcd4 Bc5 8.Qa8+ Rf8 9.Re8 Qg6 10.Qxf2 Rxe8 11.Qxe8+ Qxe8 12.Qxc5 Qb8 and White can safely resign.

4...Rf6 5.Qe4 c3

and Black's pawns decide the issue; for example: 6.Kg2 c2 7.Qc1 Rd6 8.Re1 Rcd8 9.Qexc2 Qxc2+ 10.Qxc2 Rd2+ 11.Qxd2 Rxd2+ etc.

The search for important candidate moves has to be relentless!

About Me

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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.