Coffee Break Chess
GM Alexander Baburin's online newsletter
After the last few weeks, when I was very busy celebrating the arrival of my book Winning Pawn Structures (champagne parties & all that pleasant stuff), life is finally coming back to normal. I spent the previous weekend in Birmingham, where my team - Wood Green - did well in the 4NCL (Four Nations League), winning two important matches. Fortunately, their Irish hit man also stroke, scoring 2 points. To me that was a bit of a relief, as in November the very same hit man himself got hit in a league match there. In CBC-7 I am going to show those two games I played in Birmingham, while in this issue I want to deal with some endgame positions.
I recently received No. 1/2 of 64-Chess Review (Russia). It's an excellent magazine and you might like to check its Web site (in Russian) at: www.64.ru The editor of 64 - A. Roshal - is very keen in the Chess Oscar project. So, if you want to express your view on the top 10 chess achievers in 1998, e-mail your list (marking it 'Oscar') to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write for any periodical, please specify this.
Recently I came across Eric Schiller's Web site - perhaps this will be of interest to you too: www.chessworks.com.
There are already several sites, where you can see CBC. Check some of them and look what their creators have to say about chess - this might be of interest to you:
If your mother tongue is Spanish, now you can enjoy 'Coffee Break Chess' fully, thanks to Argentinean chess enthusiasts - check this page: www.geocities.com/~ajeinteg.
I am very grateful to Igor Yagolnitser for his help with this project. For assistance regarding CBC, please contact Igor at: MOHCTP@ix.netcom.com
The following material is taken from 64-Chess Review No. 1/2 of 1999. Their policy allows reproduction of any material they publish, provided they its origin is mentioned. I must say that Vladimir Kramnik, with his clear style of play, is one of my favourite players. Thus, I was particularly fascinated with his article in 64 and soon you will understand why. In my translation I cut off notes before move 25. So, Kramnik annotates:
1 Nf3 c5 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 dxc4 7 Nxc6 Qxd1+ 8 Nxd1 bxc6 9 Bg2 Nd5 10 Ne3 e6 11 Nxc4 Ba6 12 Na5 Bc5 13 Bd2 0-0 14 Rc1 Bd4 15 b4 Bb5 16 Nxc6 Bb2 17 Rc5 Bxc6 18 Rxc6 Rac8 19 Rxc8 Rxc8 20 Bxd5 exd5 21 f4 Ba3 22 Rf1 Rc4 23 Rf3 Bxb4 24 Bxb4 Rxb4 25 Ra3!
position after 25.Ra3
This is the point of White's previous play. Instead, 25 Rb3? would lead only to a draw after 25 Rxb3 26 axb3 Kf8 27 Kd2 Ke7 28 Kc3 a5!. 25 h5! It took Timman only a couple of minutes to realise that Black should sacrifice the a7-pawn at once. After 25 Rb7? 26 Ra5 Rd7 27 Kd2 Kf8 28 Kd3 Ke7 29 Kd4 Ke6 30 g4! Black's defence would be much more difficult. 26 Rxa7 Rb2 27 a4 Ra2 This is the only reasonable move. 28 f5! This very important move keeps the enemy king restricted in its movements. Now Black loses after 28...f6 29 a5 Kh7 30 a6 Kh6 31 h4 g6 32 fxg6 Kxg6 33 Ra8 Kg7 34 a7 and then as in the game. 28...Ra1+ Black tries to complicate the issue, but White is alert! 29 Kf2 It was not too late to blunder a pawn - 29 Kd2?? Rf1. 29...d4 30 a5 f6 31 Kf3! Otherwise Black would have survived: 31 a6? Ra5 or 31 h3 Kh7 32 a6 Ra5 33 g4 hxg4 34 hxg4 Kh6 35 Ra8 Kg5. 31...Kh7 32 a6 Kh6 33 h4 g6 34 fxg6 Kxg6 35 Ra8 Ra2 36 Kf4 Avoiding the last trap - 36 a7 Kf5!, where White's winning chances are questionable. After 36 Kf4! it's all over. 36...Kf7 Or 36...Ra4 37 Ke4 Ra2 38 Kd3+-. 37 a7 Kg7 38 Kf5 Now Black is in zugzwang and must let the enemy king in. 38...Ra5+ 39 Ke4 Ra4 40 Kd5 Ra1 41 Kxd4 Black resigned. 1-0
This is a very interesting endgame, where Black defended resourcefully, but White was precise from the beginning till the end.
The game could have continued: 41...Ra4+ 42 Kc5 Ra2 43 e4 Ra1 44 Kb6 Rb1+ 45 Kc6 Rc1+ 46 Kd6 Rd1+ [46...Ra1 47 Rc8 Ra6+ 48 Rc6 Rxa7 49 Rc7+ Rxc7 50 Kxc7+-] 47 Ke6 Ra1 48 Rd8 Ra6+ 49 Rd6 Rxa7 50 Rd7+ Rxd7 51 Kxd7 f5 52 e5!, winning.
Now I would like to disappoint those who followed my annotations to this undoubtedly very interesting and complicated, endgame - the point is that my notes were just a parody - they were bogus! I began to notice too often that annotations by some well-know players do not try to uncover chess truth at all, pursuing some other aims instead. When I think of this, I come to the following reasons, why they do it:
They work for their image, showing that the opponent was hopeless even before the game started;
They suffer from the complex of a unrecognised genius - I don't make mistakes!.
Their high professionalism does not allow them to waste their precious time on such things, as quality annotations to a game.
I feel that the latter reason is the most common. Alas, in our pragmatic times, searching for chess truth becomes increasingly unpopular End of quote.
Then Vladimir proceeds to the real analysis of this endgame, but before we move on, I would like to give a few key positions, which should help you to understand this ending better:
Here White can't win: 1 Kb6 Rb1+ 2 Kc5 Ra1=. White needs f-pawn, instead of a pawn on the g-file. Then after f5-f6+ he wins easily.
Position No. 2:
This is a very important position. If Black stays idle, he loses: 1 ..Kf7 2 Kf2 Kg7 3 Ke2 Kf7 4 Kd2 Kg7 (4 ..Ke7?? 5 a7+-) 5 Kc2 Kf7 6 Kb2 Ra5 7 Kb3 Ra1 8 Kb4 Ra2 9 Kb5 Rb2+ 10 Kc6 Ra2 11 Kb7 Rb2+ 12 Ka7 Ke7 13 Rb8 Ra2 14 Kb7 Rb2+ 15 Ka8 Ra2 16 a7 Kd6 (16 ..Kd7 17 Kb7 Rb2+ 18 Ka6 Ra2+ 19 Kb6 Rb2+ 20 Kc5+-) 17 Kb7 Rb2+ 18 Kc8 Rc2+ 19 Kd8 Rh2 20 Rb6+ Kc5 21 Rc6+ Kb5 22 Rc8+-. On the account of this variation Tarrasch believed that this endgame was winning for White. However, Black can save this ending: 1 ..Ra5! 2 Kf3 Rf5+ 3 Ke4 Rf6! This idea was discovered by Vanchura. Black targets the enemy pawn from the side and as soon as White's king protects it, Black starts driving him away. 4 Kd5 Kh7 5 Kc5 Kg7 6 Kb5 Rf5+ 7 Kb4 Rf6 8 a7 Ra6 =
This should be a draw - when White will move his king to the queenside, Black
will take one or two pawns on the opposite wing, which should allow him enough
counter-play. Note that here Black's king is more active than in the endgame
Kramnik-Timman. Also, in that ending there were more pawns on the board,
which favours the superior side.
Position No. 4:
Unzicker-Lundin. This endgame illustrates that often it's good to push the passed to the seventh rank, as that ties down the enemy rook. Here after 49 a7!+- Black got absolutely paralysed. The game ended: 49 Ra2+ [or 49 ..Ra6 50 Kd3 Rd6+ 51 Kc4 Rd7 52 Kb5 Re7 53 Kc6! Zugzwang. 53 ..Re6+ (53 ..Rg7 54 Kd6 Rb7 55 Rc8+-) 54 Kd7 Ra6 55 Ke7] 50 Kd3 Ra1 51 Kd4 Ra5 52 Kc4 Ra3 53 Kc5 Ra1 54 Kd6 Ra3? 55 Ke7 [better was Ra6+ 56 Rc6 Rxa7 57 Rc5#] 55 ..Ra6 56 Kf7 Ra3 57 Kg7 Ra1 58 Kh6 Ra6 59 Rb8 Rxa7 60 Rb5+ Ke6 61 Kxg6 Ra8 62 Kxh5 Rg8 63 g4 Rh8+ 64 Kg6
I should also mention that rook endgame with 4 pawns vs. 3 on the same flank is usually a draw. Thus, exchanging the a-pawn for Black's d-pawn would not be good for Kramnik. Yet another comment - note that not all Vlad's comments were bogus, only some. His old comments are bold. My own comments will be italic. So, as Kramnik wrote, now "let's be serious":
position after 26.Rxa7
The attempt to exchange some pawns on the kingside was worth considering: 26...h4 27 Kf2 hxg3+ 28 hxg3 g6. Then White can continue with 29 Kf3! Kg7 30 g4 Kf6 31 Ra6+ Ke7. It's hard to say whether White can win here. But he can certainly try, for example by playing 32 Ra3!? Rb2 33 Re3+ Kd6 (too passive for Black is 33...Kf6 34 g5+ Kg7 35 a3) 34 a3.
At first I considered this move to be a serious mistake, but I am no longer sure in this. At any rate, White should have preferred 27 f5!. Then after 27...h4! (the only move) 28 g4! (28 gxh4 Rb4 or 28 Kf2 hxg3+ 29 hxg3 f6 30 a4 Kh7 31 a5 Ra2 32 Ke3 Ra4 33 a6 Kh6 is not enough to win the game.) 28 ..Rb1+ 29 Kf2 Rh1 30 Kg2 Re1 Black has good drawing chances, for example: 31 Ra8+ Kh7 32 Re8 Kh6!? 33 Kf3 Rh1 or 31 Re7 Ra1 32 Kh3 Rxa2. Now after 33 Re8+ Kh7 34 g5 (34 Kxh4 f6 35 Kh5 d4 36 h4 Ra5 37 Re7 Rd5 drawing.) 34 ..f6 35 g6+ Kh6 36 Kxh4 Ra4+ 37 Kg3 Kg5 Black should survive. Also after 33 Kxh4 d4 (33 ..Kf8!? 34 Re3 d4 35 Re4 f6) 34 h3 though White maintains some practical chances, a draw is the most likely outcome.
The only reasonable move. A serious mistake - Black had to play 27...g6 (now or never!) and after 28 a5 Ra2 29 a6 Kg7 30 Ra8 Kf6 31 a7 Kf5 Black has just enough time to survive. 32 h3 (32 e3 Kg4!) 32...h4! (otherwise White will play e2-e3, depriving Black any counter-play) 33 gxh4 Kxf4 34 Kd1 Kf5 35 Kc1 Kf6 36 Kb1 Ra5 37 Kb2 Kg7=. Perhaps, White should not force the play to much and prefer 29 Kf2 instead, but here also after 29...Kg7 or 29...Ra3!? Black should survive.
28 f5! This is a very important move, which keeps the enemy king restricted in its movements. Now Black loses after 28...f6 29 a5 Kh7 30 a6 Kh6 31 h4 g6 32 fxg6 Kxg6 33 Ra8 Kg7 34 a7 and then as in the game. 28...Ra1+ Black tries to complicate the issue, but White is alert!
position after 28...Ra1+
29 Kf2? It was not too late to blunder a pawn - 29 Kd2?? Rf1. White would have won easily after 29 Kd2! Rf1 30 a5 Rxf5 31 Rd7! Rf6 (or 31...d4 32 a6 Ra5 33 a7 Kh7 34 Rxf7+-) 32 Rxd5 g6 33 Rd3! Ra6 34 Ra3 The strange thing is that I saw the whole variation, but decided to choose a 'safer' line. Even if 29 Kf2? does not miss the win completely, it makes it much more problematic.
29...d4 30 a5 f6 31 Kf3! Otherwise Black survives: 31 a6? Ra5 or 31 h3 Kh7 32 a6 Ra5 33 g4 hxg4 34 hxg4 Kh6 35 Ra8 Kg5.31...Kh7 Also loses 31...Ra3+ 32 Ke4 Re3+ 33 Kxd4 Rxe2 34 a6 Rxh2 35 Rc7 Ra2 36 a7 Kh7 37 Kc5 Kh6 38 Kb6 Kg5 39 Rxg7+ Kxf5 40 Kb7 Rb2+ 41 Kc8 Ra2 42 Kb8 Rb2+ 43 Rb7 Ra2 44 Rb4!. 32 a6 Kh6 33 h4 g6 34 fxg6 Also interesting is 34 Ke4!?. 34...Kxg6 35 Ra8 Ra2
Very interesting play would occur after 35...Kf5!?
position after 35..Kf5
Now 36 a7? Ra2 leads to a draw. This line I'd like to continue: 37 e4+ dxe3 38 Kxe3 Ra3+ 39 Kd4 Ra5 40 Kc4 Ra1 41 Kb5 Ra2 42 Kb6 Rb2+ 43 Kc6 Ra2 44 Kd6 Ra6+ 45 Kd7 Ra3 46 Ke7 Ra4 (46...Rxg3 47 Rf8 Rg7+ 48 Rf7 Rg8 49 Rxf6+ winning.) 47 Kf7 Ra6 48 Kg7 Kg4 49 Kh7! Kf3 50 Kh6 Ra5 and Black is OK. White has to play 36 Kf2! Ra2 37 Ke1 Kg4 38 a7 Kh3 39 Kd1 and it seems that White wins here: 39...f5! 40 Kc1 Kg2 41 Kb1 Ra4 42 Kb2 Kf2 43 Kb3 Ra1 44 Kc4 Ra4+ 45 Kc5 Ke1 46 Kb6 Kxe2 47 Kb5 Rxa7 48 Rxa7 d3 49 Re7+ Kf3 50 Kc4 d2 51 Rd7 Ke2 52 Kc3 d1Q 53 Rxd1 Kxd1 54 Kd3 Ke1 55 Ke3 Kf1 56 Kf4 Kf2 57 Kxf5 Kxg3 58 Kg5+-. This long variation, resulting in a winning pawn endgame, looks impressive, but here Larsen's postulate, that all long variations are wrong, works fine - after 42...Rb4+ 43 Ka3 Rb7
position after 43...Rb7
Black has shifted his rook to the seventh rank, where it will work as a shield for his king. This way Black generates enough counter-play: 44 Ka4 Rg7! and Black draws - 45 Kb5 Kxg3 46 Kb6 Rg6+ 47 Kc5 Rg7 48 Kxd4 Kxh4 49 Ke5 Kg5. Slightly better is 42 Kc2, but after 42...Rc4+ 43 Kb3 (or 43 Kd3 Ra4 and White is stuck. 44 Rg8 Rxa7 45 Kxd4 Re7=) 43...Rc7 Black gets similar position - 44 Kb4 Rg7 45 Kc5 Kxg3=. Thus, we may claim that 35...Kf5 would have been a better try.
36 Kf4 Avoiding the last trap - 36 a7 Kf5! where White's winning chances
are questionable. After 36 Kf4! it's all over. 36...Kf7? Or 36...Ra4
37 Ke4 Ra2 38 Kd3+-. At that moment we both regarded Black's position as
absolutely lost and only a few days later I discovered that after 36...Kg7!
Black could put up a much tougher defence. Perhaps, 37 Ke4 is worth trying,
although I am not sure that White can win after 37...Rxe2+ 38 Kxd4 Rg2! 39
a7? Ra2!. There are a few holes in
this line. First, 38...Rg2? is a mistake, as after 39 Rb8! Ra2 40 Rb7+ Kg6
41 a7 Kf5 42 Rg7! White wins. Instead of that, Black must play 38...Re6!
(D) and he Black holds the position easily, using Vanchura's
position after 38...Re6
39 Kd5 Rb6 40 Kc5 Re6 41 Kb5 Re5+ 42 Kc6 Re6+ 43 Kd5 Rb6 44 Kc5 Re6 45 a7 Ra6.
Finally, I found a way to crack Black's defence after 36...Kg7, but would have I found it over the board? White should play: 37 a7 Kh7 38 Kf5 Kg7 39 Kf4 (or 39 g4 Ra5+ 40 Kf4 Ra4 with the same variations.) 39...Kh7 40 g4!
position after 40.g4
40...Ra4! (After 40...hxg4 41 Kxg4 White wins easily, bringing his pawn to h6 and then picking both Black's pawns. I'd like to extend this line: 41...Ra5 42 h5 Kg7 43 h6+ Kh7 44 Kf4 Ra2 45 Kf5 Ra6 46 Ke4 Ra4 47 Kd5 Ra2 48 Kxd4 Ra5 49 Ke4 Ra2 50 Kf5 Ra6 51 e3 and Black must give up his last pawn, after which having a passed pawn on the e-file, White wins easily.) 41 g5! (But not 41 gxh5? d3+ 42 e4 d2 43 Rd8 Rxa7 44 Rxd2 Ra1 and Black escapes.) 41...d3+ 42 e4 d2 43 Rd8 fxg5+ 44 Kxg5 (44 hxg5? Rxa7 45 Rxd2 Rf7+ 46 Ke5 Kg6) 44...Rxa7 45 Rxd2 Kg7 46 Kxh5 Re7 47 Re2 Re5+ 48 Kg4 Kf6 49 Kf4 Rh5 50 e5+ Ke6 51 Kg4 Rh8 52 h5 and White wins. Black can play a bit better - 42...fxg5+ 43 Kxg5 Ra5+! now after 44 Kf4? d2 45 Rd8 Rxa7 46 Rxd2 Rg7 47 Kf5 Rg4 Black gets enough counter-play. Alas, after 44 Kf6! Ra6+ 45 Kf5 Ra5+ 46 e5 d2 47 Rd8 Rxa7 48 Rxd2 Black is lost.
37 a7 Kg7 38 Kf5 Now Black is in zugzwang and must let the enemy king in. 38...Ra5+ 39 Ke4 Ra4 40 Kd5 Ra1 41 Kxd4
position after 41.Kxd4
The game could have continued: 41...Ra4+ 42 Kc5 Ra2 43 e4 Ra1 44 Kb6 Rb1+ 45 Kc6 Rc1+ 46 Kd6 Rd1+ [46...Ra1 47 Rc8 Ra6+ 48 Rc6 Rxa7 49 Rc7+ Rxc7 50 Kxc7+-] 47 Ke6 Ra1 48 Rd8 Ra6+ 49 Rd6 Rxa7 50 Rd7+ Rxd7 51 Kxd7 f5 52 e5! 1-0
This is a very interesting endgame, in which Black defended resourcefully, but White was precise from the beginning till the end. After this analysis it becomes clear that both sides committed serious mistakes in this endgame. Yet, I got a lot of pleasure analysing this rook ending and would be happy to answer to all letters, containing corrections (or refutations) of my analysis. End of quote.
Well, I also had very good time, navigating through this fascinating endgame - I guess you can clearly see it! By the way, I would appreciate your comments. You can contact me at: email@example.com. I hope this is not too much analysis for one issue. Besides, a funny phrase which I saw recently, comes to my mind here: "Anyone has a right to write a book, everyone has a privilege not to read it!".
I hope that you've enjoyed this issue of Coffee Break Chess. I will be in touch next week - stay tuned! I would really appreciate if you can recommend CBC to your friends - it's very easy to subscribe to it - tell your friends just to send an empty E-mail to: AlexBaburin_on_Chessfirstname.lastname@example.org. Shortly after that they should receive a confirmation.
Alexander Baburin, Dublin.
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