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Understand The Position 2: “Horse-race”

GM Ján Markoš | March 16, 2011 – 23:39One Comment | 2,283 views
Understand The Position 2: “Horse-race”

This unbelievable position looks like a made-up chess study. White is two pawns up with a bunch of passed pawns on the queenside. His king is somehow trapped and the bishop has to protect the b2 pawn.

Translated by: Dusan Turcer


After a long analysis I finally realized, that this position is drawish from a practical point of view, but White has more to worry about. It would be tiring to discuss all lines. I will therefore only outline the several rules of the following game development:

  1. Very much depends on when Black retreats with his bishop from h3. The king itself will not be able to capture all pawns on the queenside; on the other hand, Black will try to keep thewhite king in a cage as long as possible.
  2. It would be very uncomfortable for White if the black bishop got to a6-f1 diagonal with a tempo, because then this piece will became active and will be also limiting the white king.White therefore plays Bc2-b1 in some lines, so as to prevent the threat of …Be6-a2 after previous …Bh3-e6
  3. Sometimes it is advantageous to play g3-g4 for White in order to force Black to make one more move with the bishop on his way to the queenside. On the other hand, when the g3-pawn is off the board, Black is also able to create a passed pawn on the kingside. So it is good for Black to wait after g3-g4 and to advance the kingside pawns first, in order to gain a few tempos for the f-pawn advance.
  4. White queenside pawns have a very stable position, however, they will get weaker once the advance. It is, therefore, essential for White to control the timing of these pawns’ advance,so that they will not end up in the esophagus of the black king.

Both players had about 3 minutes on the clock at this point (plus bonus 30s/move). It is therefore clear that we did the following moves more or less as we felt.

35. Bb1

In the time pressure, Csaba follows the motto: “better safe than sorry” and prevents the threat … Ba2. But both 35.g4 and 35.c5 Ke7 36.a3! were sufficient for a draw Kd7 (36…Be6?37.Kf1 Bxb3 38.Bb1 leads to the endgame, in which White remains with the passed a-pawn) 37.b4 Kc6 38.Ba4+ Kc7 39.Bc2 with the repetition of moves.

Logical phase of the fight is over, White advanced his pawns and Black moved his king under them. However, the pieces will come into a direct conflict in the next move. And there is only a few minutes on the clock. What to play?

38. c5?

Balogh stepped aside. The advance of the white pawns is a must, because otherwise .. Bh3-e6xc4 will come, but it seems more logical to advance the a-pawn, which is farther from the black king. 38.a5 leads to a draw after safe 38…Be6 39.Kf1 Bxc4+ 40.Ke1 Kb5 41.a6! Kxa6 42.Kd2, and also after more difficult 38…g5 39.a6 Kb6 40.b5 h5 41.c5+ Ka7 42.Bd3 Bd7 43.b6+ Ka8 44.a7 Bb5 45.Bb1; white king will not get freed.

38…h5 39.g4 (White has a move disadvantage because after Kh1 ..Sf1 follows, after the bishop moves …Be6 follows with a threat of …Sa2 and after a4-a5 the pawns will be lost) 39…h4! (One more tempo) 40.a5 (40.g5 g6 doesn’t change a lot in the zugzwang position) 40…Sxg4 (Timepressure is off, White’s position is lost. The rest is easy to understand.) 41.a6 Sc8 42.a7 Kb743.Kf1 Sd7 44.Ke1 g5 45.Kd2 g4 (White is missing a tempo for being able to recapture the b-pawn) 46.Ke3 Kxa7 47.Sd3 Sb5 48.Sc2 Sc4 49.Sb1 Ka6 0–1

This post is also available in: Slovak


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Comments (1)

  • Denis says:

    Incidentally I fainlly got round to adding a favicon. It’s probably not showing up in most browsers but if you go to it directly in e.g. Chrome then after that it shows up: For those who have as many tabs open as I do :)

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