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Understand The Position 11: “None of the Endgames Is Boring.”

GM Ján Markoš | June 27, 2011 – 12:31One Comment | 1,159 views
Understand The Position 11: “None of the Endgames Is Boring.”

I’m not the endgame master. I usually don’t play for a “better endgame position,” but I prefer to try to decide the game by the attack. Only when I started with trainings, I began to learn the endgames systematically so as not to lie to my chess students. And the more I know about the endgames, the more confident I feel about them and thus I like them. Even some seemingly very boring positions contain much (often surprising) content. There is not a lot of material on the board. Therefore, if something is put out of order in the endgame, it cannot be fixed.

Translated by: D. Turcer

A chess player becomes a goldsmith or a watchmaker in the endgame. He has to be very accurate and his hands cannot be shaking. If he succeeds in that and wins – accurately and clearly – a difficult endgame, he will feel an aesthetic satisfaction, which can never be achieved in a chaotic and vague middle game.

When I had the following position on the board, it wasn’t very interesting to me first time. I didn’t know how to evaluate it and what exactly should I try to achieve. I played it quite well, but more or less by accident. I gradually returned to the position few times: first in the after game analysis, then during the preparation of training for youth. Today, I find this position only too interesting.

Markos – Rausis, Kallithea 2008, Black to move:

Latvian grand master came to the game with the clear objective: to exchange all the pieces and to achieve a draw. And so in a few moments after the opening the following position arose on the board. Black has the isolated pawn and a “bad” bishop in addition. Thanks to this fact, the white king could reach the ideal blockade square – d4. However, the pawn on d5 is the only weakness of Black – other pawns are not blocked yet and therefore cannot be a target of the attack.

How should Black defend similar positions? It is clear, that White would like to penetrate on e5 or c5 with his king. These squares are controlled by the black king on d6, but not from any other square. It is therefore safer for Black to cover these squares by the pawns and to play …b7-b6 and …f7-f6, so as not to get into a zugzwang.

Black can cover the d5-pawn twice. Is White able to attack it three times? Well, in theory, he can attack this pawn by playing e3-e4. But then Black quickly plays …d5xe4 and the position is immediately equalized. Or not? Well, there is one case in which Black wouldn’t be able to take on e4 – when the d5-pawn will be pinned, ie. the uncovered bishop will stand behind.

Therefore, the White’s threat in the position in the diagram is:

  1. To place a bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal.
  2. To wait. Black cannot move with his pieces, but the pawns. Hence he will play …f7-f6 sooner or later.
  3. To wait, still :). After …f7-f6 Black cannot retreat with his bishop to f7 or g8, because White would play e3-e4.
  4. Black will be forced to play …f6(f7)-f5 or to place one of his pawns on a white square. White will thus achieve the second object of the attack – another weakness – and his winning chances will grow rapidly.

However, Black is to move. Is he able to prevent this development of events from happening? He certainly is: d5-pawn can be covered by the bishop from two diagonals. If the black bishop was on the a8-d5 diagonal, e3-e4 breakthrough wouldn’t be effective anymore, and c3-c4 breakthrough would not be available for White.

Therefore the correct move is 27…b6! with the idea of ​​…Be6-c8-b7. (Inaccurate is 27…Bc8, because White wins an important tempo by attacking the f7-pawn: 28.Be8! Ke7 29.Ba4 Kd6 30.Bb3). Black would play f7-f6 then and would build an impenetrable fortress. Very important factor here is that the black bishop on d5-a8 diagonal has the three squares available – even if one of them was controlled by the white bishop, he would still remain with two available squares: the threat of zugzwang is over.

However, Rausis played …h6? and after 28. Ba4! (with the idea of Bb3) got into a considerable problems. Even if the ending is still drawish, he failed to solve them and lost.

The game continued:

28…b6 29.Bb3 a5 30.h4 (probably an inaccuracy; the pawn exchanges are better for the weaker side) 30…g5 31.hxg5 hxg5 32.Ba2 f5 (32…f6 33.Bb3 – White doesn’t need to hurry) 33.f3 (After 33.g3? g4! Black builds a fortress.) 33…a4? (The last chance was 33…f4! 34.e4!? dxe4 35.Bxe6 Kxe6 36.Kxe4 a4! leads to the equal pawn ending) 34.g3 b5 (34…g4 35.fxg4 fxg4 36.e4) 35.b4 axb3 36.Bxb3 Bf7 37.e4 g4 38.e5+ Kc6 39.fxg4 fxg4 (The bishop controls too many diagonals.) 40.Bc2 Be6 41.Bg6 1–0

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Comments (1)

  • Amanda says:

    Greetings Sebastian,New at pontisg here, but I’ve been reading on and off. I do enjoy your writings so do keep it up. Games are incredibly deep especially when you want to get good at them and many of the best lessons in my life have come from analyzing the mechanics of different games to win. I used to play a lot of Texas Hold’em Poker and the best points I learned from that game were:1. You have to learn to make decisions with incomplete information Corollary 1: Learn to live with those decisions, especially if things go bad Corollary 2: There is no point in worrying about what if or I should have 2. You can have a 90% chance to win, make the best decision*and still* lose Corollary 1: If you lose you still might have made the right choice Corollary 2: Even if you win, you might have been lucky Corollary 3: Learn to accept bad outcomes with the right choice 3. Learn to take risks and be able to survive them if things go wrong However: There will be times where you need to go all in 4. Not losing is just as important as winning5. The projection of your image to others affects the way they respond6. There is also an inner game; dealing with your own psychology, especially your own fearThere are probably more things to the game. I haven’t played in 5 years but I used to consistently make $1,200/month playing. I decided to quit because I had learned everything I wanted to learn from the game and there was a world outside to explore. If you’re in Tokyo, send me an e-mail and we could play. You could teach me a few things in chess.Cheers,Justin

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