Donny November 2014 Featured Pic

Endgame Fundamentals: Knowing the Concept

By Donny Gray

Last time we discussed how even if a bizarre position never makes it to your game exactly, just knowing the concept of the problem goes a long way in your quest for chess knowledge. One of the examples we looked at is shown below.

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1.g6                 hg


Of course, no matter which pawn black decides to capture, white queens!! This concept of sacrificing pawns to queen one is good to know even if the exact position does not occur on your board.

Now let’s look at a real game where something similar happened. This position came about in a radio consultation game in Russia 1964. Warning: if you look at this position, you may never look at an endgame the same again. You will be looking for ways to sac pawns! But this is a good thing, so carry on.

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First, let us take a look at what not to do.

1.Rc7               Kc7

2.ab                 Kb7

Yikes. White is losing. Not good.


How about:

1.ab                 Rb7

Again not good. This is getting out of hand quickly.


How about we try the ole pawn sac idea we have been talking about?

1.b6!!  Wow! Not only are we sacrificing a pawn, but our rook as well.


On to the variations.

1.b6!!              ab

2.Rc7               Kc7


And white wins easy!


1.b6!!              ba


And black is in the middle of a nightmare that he won’t wake from.


1.b6!!              Rc8

This is what was tried in the game.


2.ab                 Rb8                 Kc7

4.a8-Q             Resigns

If black wanted to continue the game, it would have gone something like this:

4.a8-Q             Rb7

5.Qf8               Rb1✔

6.Kh2              Rb6

7.Qf7✔            Kd8

8.Qg7 with a fairly easy win.  Black wanted no part of this so he resigned.


Also, in my last column I said I would show anyone’s “mate-in-one” composition. No one had anything to report past 30, so as promised here is my “mate-in-one” that has 38 solutions.

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Break down of the mates are as follows:

The queen has 7 mates

The rook on b5 has 9 mates

The bishop on e3 has 10 mates

The 2 knights have one each for 2 mates

The pawns have 10 mates

All for a total of 38 distinct mates!!

One interesting thing about this position is when I put it on Rybka to solve. Now Rybka on my super 6 core is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of the astronomical rating of 3200.  Rybka thinks for about 5 seconds as trying to decide which mate to choose and then selects h8-Q mate. One wonders why, when presented with a position that has 38 solutions, he chooses h8-Q mate, and why it takes 5 seconds to do so!



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