Meat and potatoes

Exeter Chess Club: Meat and potatoes - three phases of a tough game.

Peter Lane and Dave Regis

Introduction:

Dave thought this would be a good idea to do as a coaching session because:
  • we're often looking at master games, not club games
  • when we do look at a master game, we often play through it pretty quickly and often use it to illustrate only one chess point
  • when we see master annotations, they tend to give a reassuring and definitive judgement about a position, instead of a hesitant assessment about which there may be disagreement
A nice book on the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match is Both Sides of the Chess Board, where Robert Byrne and Ivo Nei both annotated the games, and you see their notes side by side. It's reassuring when they agree, and it's interesting when they don't! So, with this as a model, here is one amateur chess game, annotated in some depth by one of the players and one of the spectators, with all the mess apparent. I also showed it to Fritz, and where interesting I've included its annotations.

  [The phrase 'meat and potatoes' I borrowed from Bobby Fischer's M60MG]


M.Beveridge (BCF174) - P.C.Lane (BCF174)

  National Club Championship, Round 1

  Hereford vs Exeter, 1996

Annotations: (PCL) [DR/Fritz2&3]

Fritz gives annotations like [RR4...Bb4+ Fritz3 0.16 (8/29): (00:04:51)]

 


TODAY'S LESSON:It was said of Alekhin that to win a game from him required you to win three games: once in the opening, again in the middlegame, and another in the endgame. This is a good goal to set yourself: make it as tough for your opponent as you can, and seek counterplay at every stage. (DR)

 


1.e4

 


THE OPENING: White chooses an interesting variation, but underplays his hand. (DR)

1...e6

"I have never played the French Defence, which is the dullest of all openings" -- STEINITZ (DR)

A caricature: White wants an open, attacking game, and so plays e2-e4; Black prefers to play solidly and conservatively, and so plays the French, ...e7-e6. White groans, forced to play a closed game... but wait! We find lurking in the openings manuals a line which guarantees an open game, although promises no advantage. White, much cheered up, plays: (DR)

2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4

 

-------------------
|RNBKQBNR|
|PPP-+-PP|
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-+-PP+-|
|-+-+p+-+|
|+-+-+-+-|
|ppp+-ppp|
|rnbkqbnr|
-------------------

One of White's more dynamic tries in the Exchange French, and also found after 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.c4, with transposition into a QGA (1.d4 d5 2.c4 dc 3.e3 e5 4.Nc3 ed 5.ed Nf6 6.Bxc4 Be7); similar structures can also be found in the Petroff. Black can play as in the game, or ...Bb4+...Ne7 with ...Bg4 as appropriate. (PCL)

What are the characteristics of this position? We will probably soon see an isolated Queen's Pawn position (White having more space, outpost on e5, possible break with d4-d5, attacking chances if he avoids exchanges, etc.). There are many of these IQP lines, but this one has some distinctive features. In the classical Queen's Gambit, Black often has a Pawn on e6, obliging the Bc8 to seek a home on the long diagonal.

Here, there is no such barrier, but a White Bishop on c4 is also unimpeded; it may be the Bc8 is actually best placed on b7, and Black may prefer not to have to restrain d4-d5 by ...c7-c6. (DR)

[1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 A) 3.e4 c5 (3...e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Bxc4) ; B) 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4 Nf6 6.Qb3 Qe7+ 7.Be3 PLaskett-Lukin, Plovdiv 1984; C) 3.Nf3 3...Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.a4 cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6] (DR)

4...Nf6 [RR4...Bb4+ Fritz3 0.16 (8/29): (00:04:51)] 5.Nc3 [RR5.cxd5 Fritz3 0.22 (8/30): (00:10:22) 5...Nxd5 6.Be2 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nxd2 Nf4 9.g3 Ng2+; 5.Nf3] 5...Be7 [RR5...dxc4 Fritz3 0.13 (8/26): (00:03:04) 6.Bxc4 Be7 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.0-0; 5...Bb4]

  For educational reasons I like to head for this position as often as possible - for both sides! (PCL)

This is commendable: taking on both sides of a position in blitz and against computers is one of Karpov's training methods! (DR)

6.Bd3 ? (PCL)

  attracted by the thought of 6:...O-O 7.Nxd5 with Bxh7+, but this merely loses a tempo. It is normal in the QGD to delay moving the king's bishop as long as possible, thus: 6.Nf3 O-O 7.Be3 c6 8.Bd3 dc 9.Bxc4 Nbd7 10.O-O Nb6 11.Bb3 Bg4 or Nbd5 12.Ne5 Be6 with equality.

Because the Bishop must be moved sometime, White may think to clarify the situation as early as possible & play Re1 (DR).

6...dxc4

Gaining a tempo, although conceding the centre. Both sides must now develop, placing their pieces very carefully, although there are probably several sound continuations for each side. Pete actually puts his pieces on the most solid and least ambitious squares available, which is not my style, but Black can look to long-term chances if we can survive the early middlegame. (DR)

7.Bxc4 Nbd7

 

-------------------
|RN-KQB-R|
|PPP-+-PP|
|-+-+-N-+|
|+-+-PB+-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-n-+-+-|
|pppbnppp|
|r-+kqb+r|
-------------------

8.Nge2 ?! (DR)

  Presumably to avoid ...Bg4, but the knight is passive on this square, unable to move to (or defend) e5. A better avoidance is simply 8.h3. (PCL)

I see no virtues in this move over Nf3. Many of the themes of the IQP - outpost on e5, attacking the King's-side - seem suited to Nf3 much more than Ne2. The e-file is closed and the Bf8 committed to e7 over b4. (DR)

8...Nb6 9.Bb3 0-0 10.0-0 c6

  Perhaps ...Nbd5 first is more accurate, to prevent Bf4. (PCL)

Restraint of the d-Pawn. The classic Steinitz plan (seen in his Championship match with Zukertort) is to blockade the d-Pawn by occupying d5, then seeking exhanges to expose the weakness of the Pawn and defuse any attack. There is a lot of play left, but broadly that is the Black approach.

 

-------------------
|-KR+QB-R|
|PPPN+-PP|
|-+-+-NB+|
|+-+-P-+-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-n-+pn-|
|pppb-+pp|
|+kr-qb+r|
-------------------

11.Bf4

[11.Re1 Fritz3 - a reasonable try, seeing what Black will do before placing the Bc1.] (DR)

11...Nbd5 12.Be5

Looks a good post for the Bishop, but a Knight would benefit more from this support. In fact, the Bishop proves to be exposed to exchange here - not a tragedy, but may lead to other awkwardness. (DR)

[12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Bxd5 cxd5 Fritz3 is a typically junky computer suggestion, which is all in Black's favour: exchanging pieces and giving up the Bishop pair is emphatically not in White's interests!] (DR)

12...Be6

 


THE EARLY MIDDLEGAME: White seeks a way to an advantage, but drops a Pawn. (DR)

  Both sides need to find some ideas. Black's main concern is the pair of White bishops, and I expected 13.h3 to prevent ...Ng4, though the game shows White hoped to utilise d6 for a knight after the Nxe5 dxe5 exchange. Black may try ...Qb6...Rad8 to play ...c5. (PCL)

13.Rc1

  Nimzovitch in My System suggests Be3 Qe2 Rd1 Rc1 (and Nf3!) as White's ideal set-up. (PCL)

[RR13.Re1 Fritz3: Fritz's seems a more natural choice. White has three basic alignments for the Rooks: c1/d1, d1/e1, or c1/e1 (or maybe doubling, but that is unusual). Each is appropriate in some position or another: what about here? I'd suggest one on the open e-file, supporting the post on e5, and one behind the d-Pawn - in fact, not one on c1 at all! ] (DR)

13...Ng4

Black is safely developed and is tempted by the exposure of the Bishop. (DR)

14.Ne4 !? (DR)

 

-------------------
|-KR+QR-+|
|PPPN+-PP|
|-+-+-+B+|
|+n+NP-+-|
|-+-Bn+-+|
|+-+b+p+-|
|pppb-+pp|
|+kr-q-+r|
-------------------

This sort of move is normally a good idea, typical of IQP positions, moving a piece nearer the King's-side. It's also the sort of move you need to keep coming up with in tense, complex positions if you are going to take on players in the 170+ class. Here it looks particularly good, since after an exchange on e5 the square d6 beckons, but... (DR)

14...Qb6

Getting the Queen out from under the central battle-zone, but I might have gone for a Rook move. (DR)

[RR14...Nxe5!? Fritz3 0.72 (8/26): (00:02:57) ...is a typically robust Pawn-grabbing attempt by the computer. Computers are great for finding (and making) moves like this; humans like Pete may be more cautious! It's actually not a move I'd think about for long even if I spotted the ...Qb8 idea, because White's pieces looked pretty active at the end of the analysis. 15.dxe5 Qb8 16.Nd4 (16.Qd4 Rd8; 16.f4 Ne3) 16...Qxe5 17.Re1; 14...Re8] (DR)

15.Bd6 ? (PCL) ? (DR)

  White is looking at the dark squares d6 and c5, and natural would be 15.N2c3-a4-c5, additionally activating that knight on e2. I planned 15.N2c3 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Rad8 as if 17.Na4 Qc7 and e5 looks weak (the lack of the Nf3 is felt). Instead, White tries, ambitiously, to win the dark squares by exchanging the relevant Black bishop... (PCL)

Fails to a two-mover. Why, or how, was it overlooked? Sometimes these questions cannot be answered, even by the blunderer, but this one has a familar theme. (DR)

[RR15.Bg3 Fritz3 -0.34 (8/25): (00:03:14)Is certainly safer, but also an admission that White's opening play has come to naught, and is psychologically difficult to play for that reason.] (DR)

15...Bxd6 16.Nxd6

 

-------------------
|-KR+QR-+|
|PPPN+-PP|
|-+-+-+B+|
|+n+-P-+-|
|-+-+n+-+|
|+-+bNpq-|
|ppp+-+pp|
|+kr-+-+r|
-------------------

16...Qc7 ! (PCL) ! (DR)

A mischievous retreat. I'm going to guess that White missed this, because it's a retreat by a piece that is already developed. (DR)

  Very pleasant to play: pinning the knight to the h2-pawn ... (PCL)

17.h3 Qxd6

  ...and winning it. Note 17:...Ne3 18.fxe3 Nxe3 19.Qd3 Nxf1 20.Ne4 Qh2+ 21.Kxf1 Qh1+ 22.Ng1 and 20:...Nh2 21.Qg3 leaves Black down two knights for a rook. (PCL)

[17...Nge3?! is an obscure punt but you can have at least one point for noticing it. The main line "works" in that Black gets a Rook for two Knights but there is an amazing spuddle by sacrificing the Queen. Fritz3 ignored all this but Fritz2 fancied it! 18.fxe3!? (18.Nb5? Qb6 19.fxe3 Nxe3-+) 18...Nxe3 19.Nxf7!? Nxd1 20.Bxe6 Rae8 (20...Qe7! PCL) 21.Ng5+ Kh8 22.Rcxd1 (22.Rfxd1 h6; 22.Rxf8+ Rxf8 23.Rxd1 Qe7) 22...Rxf1+ 23.Rxf1 (23.Kxf1 Rxe6 24.Nxe6 Qf7+ 25.N2f4 g5 26.Nxg5 Qxf4+ 27.Nf3) 23...h6 24.Nf7+ Kh7 25.Nf4 g5 (25...Qb6) 26.Bf5+ Kg8 27.Nxh6+ Kg7] (DR)

18.hxg4 Bxg4

 

-------------------
|-KR+QR-+|
|+PPN+-PP|
|-+-+-+B+|
|+b+-P-+-|
|-+-+n+-+|
|+-+-qp+-|
|ppp+-+pp|
|+kr-+-+r|
-------------------

19.Qd2

``There exists a wide-spread and therefore dangerous delusion that with an extra pawn the win is achieved automatically.'' BRONSTEIN (PCL)

  So Black is a pawn up and the win is a matter of technique? If you insist, but I am not a strong enough player to lay claim to reliable technique, and it is worth detailing the thinking processes.

  Firstly, the extra pawn is a bonus, but it only matures in the(distant) future, and must be disregarded for the present. White should obviously make every effort to attack.

  Secondly, the exchanges have removed a lot of the potential in White's position, and relieved the cramp in Black's. The plan must be an active one, and with dark-squared bishops I would perhaps attack the d-pawn, placing my bishop on f6, and hence defending g7 and e7. With light -squared bishops, doubling on the e-file with a view to entry on e2 is more logical. (PCL)

The endgame where such a Pawn may be converted is still some way off, and an extra h-Pawn is without doubt the most useless type of extra Pawn you can have. (DR)

 


THE LATE MIDDLEGAME: Black seeks central posts for the major pieces which prompts exchanges; White should have retained the Queens. (DR)

19...Rae8

I don't understand the Rook placements in this game. I'd have gone for two other moves over this one! (DR)

P.S. Black cannot win a Pawn with 19...Bxe2 20. Qxe2 Nf4 21. Qf3 Qxd4? 22. Rc4, but if he considered the Ne2 to be a more useful piece than the Bg4 he might have considered the exchange in any event. I have often heard strong players say 'this sort of position is all about what pieces you want to keep on', and while I don't think the Knight looks any better than the Bishop, Mike van Wissen was convinced that the exchange was good for Black!

20.Ng3 Re721.Rfe1 Rfe8 22.Rxe7 Rxe7 23.Re1

  Black can go wrong with ...Qb4 24.Qxb4 Nxb4 25.Rxe7 and ...Qf4 24.Rxe7 Qxd2 25.Re8 'mate (both ideas drifted through my mind). (PCL)

23...Rxe1+ 24.Qxe1 Qe7

 

-------------------
|-K-Q-+-+|
|+PP-+-PP|
|-N-+-+B+|
|+b+-P-+-|
|-+-+n+-+|
|+-+-+p+-|
|pppq-+pp|
|+k+-+-+-|
-------------------

25.Qxe7 ? (PCL)

  White's toughest line of resistance is 25.Qa5 b6 26.Qa4 Qd7 with a long struggle in prospect. Although exchanging rooks was necessary to remove the aggressive potential of the Black position, exchanging queens was an unnecessary simplification. (PCL)

Here I think White can dodge, because the Black Queen has no entry point; the complications produced by the presence of Queens may produce some counterplay. I think this error is crucial, and is one of the main instructional points of this game. [25.Qd2 idea Bxd5/Qa5; 25.Qa5!?] (DR)

25...Nxe7 26.Ne4

 

-------------------
|-K-+-+-+|
|+PP-+-PP|
|-+-+-+B+|
|+b+NP-+-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-+-+p+-|
|pppn-+pp|
|+k+-+-+-|
-------------------

26...Nd5 [26...b6?! 27. Nd6 Bh5 28. f3!]

 


THE ENDGAME: after some difficult manoeuvres in which both sides make mistakes, Black obtains a winning game.Over the next few moves Fritz preferred alternatives at each step. We are entering a phase where the machine is suggesting moves that are good-looking but often unmotivated. (DR)

  We now have a simplified ending where Black's win should be a matter of time. And accuracy I must add, as unfortunately Black plays some poor moves, and White grabs (nearly) every chance he is given! (PCL)

27.f3

[RR27.Nd6 Fritz3 -0.91 (9/18): (00:01:38)This is more active and probably better; 27. Bxd5 is probably also critical, tying White to the d5 Pawn at least for a while, but requires some courage!] (DR)

27...Be6 28.Kf2

[28.Nc5 Again, no harm in trying to mess Black up before either side activates the King. ] (DR)

28...h6 ? (PCL) ?! (DR)

  Error number 1, the king must be brought into play as a matter of urgency: 28:... Kf8 29.Nd6 b6 30.Nc4 Ke7 31.Ne5 Kd6 with an ideal setup, and not fearing 29.Ng5 h6 30.Nxe6 fxe6. `Centralise the king' is a basic maxim for the endgame, and the present sin must be justified - ...h6 was played with the aim of restricting the White knight's options, admirable in itself but misconceived, as the knight is only interested in the queen side - and another lesson is learnt. (PCL)

[RR28...Kf8 Fritz3 1.03 (9/18): (00:03:25) 29.Ng5 Bf5 preserves the Bishop without loss of time.] (DR)

29.Nc5

[29.Nd6 b6 and Black will gain a tempo by attacking the Knight with the King.] (DR)

29...b6 ? (PCL)

  Error number 2, and now White has realistic drawing chances! ...Bc8 allows the king to centralise without any weakening of the queen side. Note 29.Nd6 b6 (now forced) 30.Nc4 Nc7 (31.Ne5 Bd5) was possible, but in Black's favour. (PCL)

Stephan Gerzadowicz says that if you have a choice between a piece move and a Pawn move, and you can't decide: then move the piece, because you can't undo a poor Pawn move! (DR)

30.Nd3 Nc7

  This is all but forced.30:...Kf8 31.Ne5 c5 32.dc bc 33.Nd3 regains the pawn, or if 31:... Ne7 32.Bxe6 fxe6 and the knight on e5 is very strong, bearing down on the queen side. 30:...f6 31.Nb4 Nxb4 32.Bxe6+ also is not simple. (PCL)

31.Bxe6 Nxe6

 

-------------------
|-+-+-+-+|
|+PK-+-PP|
|-+P+N+-+|
|+-+-P-+-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|p-+n+pp-|
|-pp+-+-p|
|+k+-+-+-|
-------------------

A Knight ending has arisen, where Black still has his extra h-Pawn and White's d-Pawn is still isolated. Guess what type of Pawn Knights find it most difficult to defend against? Right, Rook's Pawns! (DR)

32.Ke3 f6

  stopping Ne5: if Nb4 Nxd4; Kxd4 c5+ (PCL)

33.Ke4 Kf7

 

-------------------
|-+-+-+-+|
|+P+-+-PP|
|-+P+N+-+|
|+-+KP-+-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|p-pn+pp-|
|-pk+-+-p|
|+-+-+-+-|
-------------------

34.d5 ! (PCL) ! (DR)

  White's king is almost enough for him to consider winning the game by infiltrating the queen side: this is the punishment for Black's 28th and 29th moves - 34:... cxd5+ 35.Kxd5 and the king walks over to a7. Black must blockade the centre to allow time to sort his pieces out, even at the cost of a White passed pawn on d5. (PCL)

34...Ng5+ 35.Kd4 c5+ ! (DR)

A grown-up winning attempt: a lesser player would have feared giving White the passed d-Pawn. [35...cxd5 36.Kxd5 h5 37.Kc6 with better chances for White] (DR)

36.Kc4 Ke7

 

-------------------
|-+-+-+-+|
|+P+-+-PP|
|-+P+N+-+|
|+-+-+K+-|
|-n-+Pp-+|
|p-p-+-p-|
|-p-k-+-p|
|+-+-+-+-|
-------------------

Along with his passed Pawn White has some goals (exchanging off Pawns) and some choices (play with K+N on Q-side, or send K to Q-side and N to K-side, or what?) (DR)

37.b4

  Seeing 37.Kb5 Kd6 38.Nf4 Ke5! and Black takes the advantage, White tries to lift the queen side blockade, and gain b4 for his knight. (PCL)

37...cxb4 38.Nxb4 Kd6? (PCL) [38...Kd7]

  Error number 3. A very poor move, and an instructive error: d6 is a knight's move from b5 which is a knight's move from a7, the destination of the White knight. The aim of the king move is to take a step over to the queen side and potentially defend the b6/a7 pawn. This could be accomplished without being a tempo-gaining target with Kd7!

The game should now be drawn. (PCL)

39.Nc6 h5

 

-------------------
|-+-+-+-+|
|+P+-+-+P|
|-+P+-+-+|
|+-+-+K+-|
|pn-+P+-+|
|+-p-kNp-|
|-p-+-+-p|
|+-+-+-+-|
-------------------

40.Nd4 ? (PCL) ? (DR)

  And White backs out of 40.Nxa7 Nxf3 41.gxf3 h4, though with 42.Nb5+ he gets back in time. Black would have to play 40:... Nf7-d6 (41.Kb5 Kc7 etc), when he is probably still better due to the king-side majority.

  Unfortunately for White, having made the most out of his chances thus far, he flinches from the final realisation, and the delay is critical. (PCL)

He who says 'A' must say 'B', advises Tarrasch. Although Nxa7 is committal, it does offer counterplay. (DR)

[RR40.Nxa7! 40...Nxf3!? (40...h4 41.f4; 40...Kd7) 41.gxf3 h4 42.Nb5+ Kd7 43.Nd4 (43.Nc3 h3 44.Ne2) 43...h3 44.Ne2 h2 45.Ng3 f5 46.f4 g5 47.fxg5 f4 48.Nh1 saves it: White had to anticipate this save at move 40] (DR)

40...g6

against not only Nf5 but also f3-f4-f5, crippling the majority.(DR)

The game should now be won (PCL)

41.f4 ? (PCL)

  Natural enough, but weakens the pawns. (cf. Black's error on move 29). White cannot now take the a7-pawn: 41.Nb5+ Kd7 42.Nxa7 Nxf3 43.Kb5 h4 44.Kxb6 Ne1xg2 queens the h-pawn in time. White has to defend against ...a6...h4...h3:gxh3 Nxh3-f4xd5, which is not easy, as creating a second chance on the queen side is time consuming. White obviously wants to regain his pawn, without allowing the line above. (PCL)

f4-f5 is no longer a threat, but ...Nxf3 may be (DR)

41...Ne4 42.Nb5+ Kd7 43.Nxa7

  At this point White (audibly) asked his match captain whether a draw would be sufficient, or should he be playing for a win! Meanwhile Black, contemplating an attack on four weak pawns with an active knight, can finally claim to be winning. (PCL)

White finally gets the courage to play this, but Black is better than previously. (DR)

43...Ng3 !(!) (PCL) ?! (DR)

 


This is an interesting moment where our analysis and judgement differed. After careful consideration of my ?! Pete gave his move another exclamation mark! (DR)

  The position we both reached is obviously critical. The details of the analysis actually decide the point, but they shouldn't obscure some principles in the position:

 

  • because White has a passed Pawn it must be blockaded, preferably by the King because the King also attacks the Pawn
  • the Black Knight goes around hitting White Pawns weakened by loosening moves
(PCL)

 


If now 44.Kb5 Ne2 45.Kxb6 Nxf4 46.a4 Nxg2 47.a5 Nf4 48.a6 Nxd5+- c7 or 48.Nb5 Nxd5+ 49.Kc5 Ne7-c8 and the King's-side pawns win (though this appears the line with most chances - the winning moves with the knight, leaving the king alone, would have been hard to find). Or 44.Nb5 Ne2+ 45.f5 g5 with ...Nf4: g3 Ne2 to follow.

  White instead gives up the least disastrous pawn... (PCL)

[RR43...Nd6+!? Fritz3 0.25 (11/24): Going backwards is not the idea in endgames usually, but it keeps the King out, and comes at the King's-side from what looked like a better angle, although the two approaches converge. (DR)

  A check is easier to respond to, so 43...Ng3 must be the better move order! (PCL)

A) 44.Kd4 Nf5+ 45.Ke4 (45.Kc4 Ne3+ 46.Kb5 Nxg2 47.f5 g5!) 45...Nh4 46.g3 Nf5 47.Kf3 (*) Kd6 (I thought this won, but Pete found a draw for White by liquidating Pawns after 48. Nc8+ Kc5 49. d6 Nxd6 50. Ne7 g5 51. Ng8 Ne8 52. Ke4 e.g. 52...Kb4 53. Kf5 h4 54. gxh4 gxh4 55. Kg4 Ka3 56. Ne7 Kxa2 57. Nd5=; however Black can still win by 47...Nd4+! 48. Ke4 Ne2 or 48. Kf2 Nc2 49. Nb5 Nb4 50. Nc3 Kd6-+ e.g. 51. Ne4+ Kxd5 52. Nxf6 Ke6 53. Ne4 Nxa2);

B) 44.Kd3 Nf5 45.Ke2 (45.Ke4 Nh4 46.g3 Nf5 47.Kf3 Kd6 is the same position (*) as in (A); 45. Kc4 Ne3+ 46. Kb5 Nxg2 47. Nxg2 47. f5 g5 -+) 45...Ne7-+(PCL); 43...h4-+] (DR)

44.Kd4 ?! (PCL)

Putting the King where is can be easily checked. Knight endings are very tiresome, needing exact calculation more than general plans. [RR44.Kd3! Fritz3 -0.50 (11/22): (00:02:00) 44...Nf5!] (DR)

  45. Ke2 Ne7-+ or 45. Ke4 Nh4 46. g3 Nf5 47. Kf3 returns us to the position (*) above. I saw 44. Nb5 Ne2 45. f5 g5 when ...Nf5-e2 wins. I also saw 44. Kb5!? Ne2 45. Kxb6 Nxf4 when I hoped I was better! (outside passed Pawn); afterwards I found 46. a4 Nxg2 47. a5 Nf4 48. Nb5 (48. a6 Nxd5+ and ...Nc7) 48...Nxd5+ 49. Kc5 Ne7 and ...Nc8-+ (PCL)

44...Ne2+! 45.Ke4 [45.Ke3 Nc3] 45...Nc3+ 46.Kd4 Nxa2 47.Nb5 Nc1

  With the removal of the a-pawn, all Black's problems are over. The White King and Knight have no effective target, and it remains for Black to coordinate his pieces, and move on to the king side in earnest. First step is to return the knight to d6. (PCL)

48.Nc3

 

-------------------
|-+-+-n-+|
|+P+-+-+-|
|-+-+-N-+|
|+-P-K-+-|
|p+-+P+-+|
|+pp-+-p-|
|-+-+k+-+|
|+-+-+-+-|
-------------------

48...Nb3+ ?! (DR)

Drives the King forward! [48...h4!?; 48...Kd6] (49. d6+! (PCL)) (DR)

  These alternatives look less constructive! (PCL)

49.Kc4 Nc5 50.Kb5 Kc7 51.Kc4

  Note: 51.d6+ Kxd6 52.Kxb6 h4! 53:...Nd3-e1 wins a pawn. (PCL)

The King was OK where it was, I thought. (DR)

51...Nb7 52.Nb5+ Kd7 53.Kd4 Nd6 54.Nc3 Nf5+

  and now back to the king side... (PCL)

55.Ke4 Kd6

 

-------------------
|-+-+-+-+|
|+P+-+-+-|
|-+-+-N-+|
|+-PK+-+-|
|p+n+P+-+|
|+pp-k-p-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-+-+-+-|
-------------------

White is running out of moves! (DR)

56.Kd3

loses contact with the d-Pawn, but there wasn't much else (DR)

56...Nh4 57.g3 Nf5 58.Ne4+ Kxd5 59.Nxf6+ Ke6 60.Ne4

 

-------------------
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-+-+-+-|
|-P-+K+-+|
|+-PN+-+-|
|p+n+-+-+|
|+p+k+-p-|
|-+-+-+-+|
|+-+-+-+-|
-------------------

White has lost the asset of the d-Pawn, and allowed Black to exchange an extra near h-Pawn for a distant Passed b-Pawn. (DR)

60...Nd6 61.Nf2

Of course the exchange must be declined. (DR)

61...Kf5 62.Kd4 Nb5+ 63.Kd5

  ? (PCL)

  makes it easy, but if 63. Kd3 Black has two winning plans, ...h4 ...Kxf4-g3xh4 with two passed pawns, or ...Nxf4 : gxf4 Kxf4 with three pawns vs one knight! (PCL)

[63.Kd3 h4 or maybe ...Nc7-e6xf4] (DR)

63...Nc3+ 64.Kc6 Ne2

That's how it works: while your opponent battles with the Passed Pawn you eat the King's-side. (DR)

65.Kxb6 Nxg3 66.Kc6 [66.Kc5] 66...Kxf4 [66...h4 67.Kd5 Ne2] 67.Kd5 Nf5 [67...g5 is probably better, but it doesn't matter]

0-1

 


A long and hard struggle, typical of some of the complexities possible in endgame play. In particular note how a strong player will find resources in any position, and how accuracy must be maintained throughout.

  The numerous errors are instructive: Black's delay in centralising his king, leading to queen side weaknesses. These weaknesses gave White the initiative, but he backed out of realising this to its optimum. (PCL).

 


This was a good game in many respects: exciting and close-fought, with more good ideas found by both sides than errors (no amateur game is really free of the latter.)

There are lots of instructional points here: the need for counterplay (25. Qxe7? 40. Nd4?) and the need for the courage of your convictions (35...c5+! 40. Nxa7! ) being two that we didn't spend a lot of time on in the notes.

Perhaps the most instructional point of all is: I asked Peter if he would annotate this game for us, and discovered that he had already put a lot of time and effort into it for his own study.

Original analysis of our own games - not self-serving but hard work, checked and worried about - is perhaps the most valuable sort of study we can do. (DR)

Chess Quotes

"The chess-board is the world,
the pieces are the phenomena of the Universe,
the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature,
The player on the other side is hidden from us.
"
— Thomas HUXLEY (1825-1895).