Monday, June 30, 2014

Rook vs Connected Passed Pawns: Part 3

In the final part of this series we shall wrap up by looking at an interesting example of the struggle between the rook and the connected pawns. Here, the main themes of this topic are illustrated clearly: The pawns trying to get beyond the 6th rank, and the rook + king working as a team in an attempt to block them.

Whoever moves wins

White to move makes use of the familiar motifs: Placing his own rook behind the enemy pawns, giving checks when necessary, and using his king to get in front of the pawns.


1. Kg4

1. Rc5 also wins after 1... c3 (White must be careful not to attack the wrong pawn, because after 1. Rb5? c3 2. Rxb4 Kd5 3. Rb8 Kd4 we reach a familiar drawn position) 2. Kg4 Kd6 3. Rc8 Kd5 4. Kf3 Kd4 5. Ke2 b3 6. Kd1 reaching a similar position to our main line.

1... c3

The other variations are 1... Kd6 2. Kf3 or 1... b3 2. Rb5 Kd6 3. Kf3

2. Rc5

White's mission is always the same: Do not let Black's pawns get beyond the 6th rank until the White king reaches them first!

2... Kd6
3. Rc8

We have already seen that the greedy 3. Rb5? won't work after 3... c2

3... Kd5
4. Kf3 Kd4
5. Ke2 b3
6. Kd1 c2+
7. Kc1
1-0

White's king has successfully managed to block the pawns, and winning them should only be a matter of technique.

...

For Black to move, he must be careful in which pawn he chooses to advance.


1... c3

1... b3? 2. Rb5 Kd6 3. Kg4 Kc6 4. Rb8 Kd5 5. Kf3 Kd4 allows White to get his king in front of the pawns, which is not what Black wants.

2. Rc5 Kd6
3. Rc8 Kd5

Black's king needs to support the pawns' advance if they are not to be plucked off by the rook.

4. Kg4 Ke4!

Looks familiar? The concept of direct opposition is the only one that saves the win for Black! On the other hand, 4... Kd4 5. Kf3 leads to a draw as White's king is able to get closer to the pawns.

5. Kg3

A trickier try is 5. Rc4+ Kd3 6. Rxb4 c2 7. Rb3+ but after 7... Kd4! (7... Kd2? 8. Rb2 is a draw) 8. Rb4+ Kd5 9. Rb5+ Kc6 10. Rb8 Kc7 White's rook can no longer stop the pawn.

5... Kd3
6. Kf3

Or 6. Rd8+ Kc2 7. Kf3 b3 8. Rb8 -+

6... c2
7. Kf2 Kd2
8. Rd8+ Kc3
9. Rc8+ Kb2
0-1

Black's king is safe from the rook checks, and White's king is too far away to stop the promotion of the pawns.

...

From this example you can tell the many themes that we have went through throughout our study of rook vs pawn endgames: Opposition, getting/stopping the pawns beyond the 6th rank, Tarrasch's Rule (placing the rook beyond the pawn) and many others. Hopefully y'all can take this opportunity to revise most of these basic concepts as you try to master the battle between the rook and the connected pawns.

Links:
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-1.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-2.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 3: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-3.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 4: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-4.html
Rook vs Connected Pawns Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/rook-vs-connected-passed-pawns-part-1.html
Rook vs Connected Pawns Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/rook-vs-connected-passed-pawns-part-2.html

Sources:
"A Guide to Chess Endings" by Max Euwe

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June Holiday Presents (Part 4)

So while y'all are busy grumbling about how the school vacation's about to end, then here are 8 more (easy) presents for you to drown your sorrows in:

Puzzle 1: White to move and mate in 5

Puzzle 2: Black to move and mate in 3

Puzzle 3: White to move

Puzzle 4: Black to move

Puzzle 5: Black to move

Puzzle 6: White to move and mate in 4

Puzzle 7: Black to move and mate in 4

Finally, here is a composed mate in 2 for y'all to enjoy!

Adabashev, Mark Ivanovich
Kiev 1937
Puzzle 8: White to move and mate in 2


Have fun, guys!

Links:
Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-holiday-presents-part-1.html
Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-holiday-presents-part-2.html
Part 3: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-holiday-presents-part-3.html

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rook vs Connected Passed Pawns: Part 2

Earlier on we saw how connected passed pawns can defeat a rook once they have crossed the 6th rank and both kings are still far away. This, however, is not common and in practice both kings are usually close to the action. Let us take a look at what happens when that occurs in the following position:

White to move draws, Black to move wins

When both kings are closer their position makes a major difference in deciding the outcome of the game. Here, White's rook is optimally placed on the back rank, where he can safely snipe at the enemy king and pawns from a distance:

The very bane of existence

Hence White to move draws by checking the enemy king from the back rank, forcing him in front of the pawns so that the White king can advance to help stop the pawns.


1. Kg4 Ke3

Or 1... c3 2. Re8+ Kd4 3. Kf4 c2 4. Rd8+ Kc3 5. Rc8+ Kd2 6. Ke4 leading to a similar position in our main line.

2. Re8+ Kd2

The Black king is forced in front of the pawns; attempting to shelter with 2... Kf2 3. Rf8+ Kg2 allows White to attack the pawns with 4. Rd8+

3. Kf3 c3

3... Kc2 allows White's king to arrive in time to stop the pawns after 4. Rd8 d2 (Or 4... c3 5. Ke3) 5. Ke2 =

4. Rc8

The rook attacks the unobstructed pawn.

4... c2
5. Ke4 c1=Q
6. Rxc1 Kxc1
7. Kxd3
1/2-1/2

Here White is able to draw because his rook is in a perfect position, and his king is close enough to stop the pawns. On the other hand, Black to move wins because White's king is one step too far to help:


1... Ke3
2. Re8+ Kd2
3. Kf4 c3
4. Rc8

4. Ke4 doesn't help either; 4... Kc2 5. Rd8 d2 and the pawn cannot be stopped

4... Kc2
5. Ke3

The White king wants to come in and stop the pawn but alas, it lacks the tempo to do so!

5... d2
6. Rd8 d1=Q
0-1

...

If we were to shift the position of the White king in the earlier example it might result in different outcomes; shifting the White king closer to the front of the pawns makes it easier for him to stop the pawns and play for a win. For example, if White's king were on g4 then he wins after 1. Re8+ Kd4 2. Kf3 c3 3. Rd8+ Kc4 4. Ke3 d2 5. Ke2 Kb3 6. Kd1 +-

You can try placing the White king on different squares and see whether White is able to play for a draw or a win, depending on the position. Try this out as a personal challenge! (:

...

When the position of the two pawns are swapped around, it becomes much more drawish because White's king is closer to the backward pawn. Here, White can draw easily even though his king is on the other side of the world; however, he has fewer winning chances as well.

White to move draws, Black to move wins

White to move draws in the usual manner: Using the back rank for rook attacks, and marching his king towards the pawns.

1. Kg7 Kd3

The other variation is 1... d3 where White draws after 2. Rc4+ (Not 2. Rxc3?? d2! and suddenly Black's pawn cannot be stopped) 2... Kd5 3. Rxc3 =

2. Kf6 Kc2
3. Ke5 d3
4. Kd4 d2

5. Rxc3+ Kb1
1/2-1/2

Black to move wins after 1... Kd3 2. Kg7 Kc2 3. Kf6 d3 when the White king is still too far away to stop the pawns.

Once again you can place the White king in different starting positions and see what sort of difference it can make to the game.

...

So we've seen how the position of both kings can readily affect the battle between the rook and the connected pawns. In Part 3, we shall take a look at a final but interesting example of rook vs connected passed pawns.

Links:
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-1.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-2.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 3: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-3.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 4: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-4.html
Rook vs Connected Pawns Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/rook-vs-connected-passed-pawns-part-1.html

Sources:
"A Guide to Chess Endings" by Max Euwe
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=238378856&insideModal=1

Monday, June 23, 2014

June Holiday Presents (Part 3)

So now that our camp is over, are any of you glad that you don't have to face all those annoying puzzles on the screen for the rest of the vacation? Then congratulations, because here's 8 more of those made specially for you:

Puzzle 1: Black to move

Puzzle 2: White to move

Puzzle 3: Black to move

Puzzle 4: White to move

Puzzle 5: White to move

Puzzle 6: Black to move

Puzzle 7: White to move

Finally, here's an interesting endgame position for y'all: At first glance it looks like a dead draw, but Black has a way to win over here! Can you see the winning variation?

Puzzle 8: Black to move


Have fun! (:

Links:
Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-holiday-presents-part-1.html
Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-holiday-presents-part-2.html

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More Chess Camp Curosities

Let us now take a look at the game y'all played with our best friend (Deep Fritz 12) yesterday; despite all the wild blunders at the start of the game, there is indeed some stuff worth looking through in the endgame. So here goes:

NUSHS Black Knights vs Deep Fritz 12 (Friend Mode)
Chess Camp 2014 (Sem 1)


I won't bother adding any commentary for the first part of the game since it isn't worth analyzing.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. d4 exd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 Bb4
6. Bd2??

6. Nxc6 dxc6 7. Qxd8+ Kxd8 8. f3 =

6... Nxd4
7. e5 Ng4?

7... Nh5! 8. Qxg4? Nxc2 -+

8. Qxg4 Bxc3
9. bxc3

9. Qe4? Bxd2+ 10. Kxd2 -+

9... Nxc2+
10. Kd1 Nxa1
11. Qxg7 Qh4

11... Rf8? 12. Bg5! f6 13. Bxf6 +-

12. Qxh8+ Ke7
13. Qf6+ Qxf6
14. exf6+ Kxf6
15. Bd3 c5
16. Ke2 d5
17. Rxa1 Bf5
18. Bxf5 Kxf5
19. Kf3 Re8
20. Re1 Re4
21. Rxe4 dxe4+ (D)

Position after 21... dxe4+

And here is where things start to get interesting. Although a bishop down, Black has a queenside pawn majority, a potential passed pawn on e4, and a more centralized king.

22. Ke2

During analysis the immediate blockade 22. Ke3 Ke5 (22... c4? 23. Kd4! and White makes inroads into Black's camp) 23. c4 was suggested, after which Black's attempts to infiltrate White's position will be busted and White can start to utilize his kingside pawn majority.

22... Ke5
23. Be3

Or 23. Ke3 b5 24. f4+ and White need not worry about Black trying to get his king into White's position, since White's bishop and pawns secure important squares in the area and protect each other.

23... b6
24. c4 h5
25. f4+ (D)

Position after 25. f4+

25... Kf5

Other moves aren't much better; 25... Kd6 26. Bf2 or 25... exf3+ 26. Kxf3 f5 27. Bf2 both lead to White having a breakthrough on the kingside, where his pawn majority will almost certainly decide the game.

26. h3 a6
27. a4 Ke6

An attempt to stop a queenside breakthrough will be 27... a5, but this will not work after 28. Bd2 f6 29. Ke3 (D)

Position after 30. Ke3; Black is in zugzwang!

If Black could just pass his turn he could hold out this position pretty well; but as the zugzwang motif dictates, he is forced to make a move and throw himself upon the sword. 30... b5 is suicide, any king move allows 31. Kxe3, and 30... h4 loses after 31. Be1 with 32. Bxh4 to follow.

28. a5!

Or 28. g4 hxg4 29. hxg4 f5 30. g5 and White will calmly walk his king over to the h-file and enter Black's position

28... bxa5
29. Bxc5 a4
30. Ba3 Kf6
31. g4 hxg4
32. hxg4 Ke6
33. Ke3 Kd7
34. Kxe4 (D)

Position after 34. Kxe4

Now White is really breaking through.

34. Ke6
35. c5 Kd7
36. Kd5 Kd8
37. Kc6 Kc8
38. Kb6 (D)
1-0

Position after 38. Kb6

A stylish way to win here will be 38... Kb8 39. c6 Kc8 40. c7 f6 41. f5 a5 42. g5 fxg5 43. f6 g4 44. f7 g3 45. f8=Q+ Kd7 46. Qe7+ Kc8 47. Qd8#

So it seems that having Deep Fritz 12 in Friend mode was way too easy for y'all (even after that blunder on the 6th move). Let's ratch up the difficulty next time and see how you guys stand up to it. Well done everybody!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rook vs Connected Passed Pawns: Part 1

Already from our Rook vs Lone Pawn series we can already see that a single infantryman can give the rook so much headaches. Now what happens if there were two pawns? Will the rook be able to fight them all by himself, or will the pawns overwhelm the rook like the zombie apocalypse?

The problem isn't that they're strong, but that there's just too many of them

In a Rook vs Two Pawns endgame, the first thing that we need to know is that unlike the minor piece, the rook performs well when against two disconnected pawns since its long-range abilities enable it to switch from one target to another quickly. On the other hand, connected passed pawns present a major problem for the rook since the enemy king is able to protect both pawns, which in turn protect each other!

To make things simple we will only discuss connected passed pawns in this series of articles; disconnected pawns will be our main topic in subsequent articles. In the case of connected passed pawns, the result of the game is often determined by the placing of both kings. If both kings are far away from the pawns, then the pawns will win if they are able to get to the 6th rank and beyond:

Whoever to move wins

Black to move wins since his pawns can reach the 6th rank:

1... g3
2. Rh8+

Neither the rook nor king are able to stop the connected passed pawns when they are beyond the 6th rank (e.g. 2. Rg7 f2 3. Rf7 g2 4. Rxf2 g1=Q -+) so White's best chance will be to rain checks and hope for a miracle

2... Kd7

No miracles! Black simply walks his king over to the rook and the checks will eventually peter out.

3. Rh7+ Ke6
4. Rh6+ Kf5
5. Rh5+ Kg4
6. Rh7 f2
7. Rf7 g2
8. Rxf2 g1=Q
0-1

Black reaches a theoretically won Queen vs Rook endgame (you can try winning this as an extra challenge!)

White to move wins because one of the pawns has not yet crossed the 6th rank:

1. Rf7

It is important to put the rook behind the more advanced pawn; 1. Rg7? loses after 1... f2 2. Rf7 g3!

1....  Kd8

Or 1... g3 2. Rxf3 g2 3. Rg3 +-

2. Rf4 Ke7
3. Rxg4
1-0

And the win should be quite obvious to us by now.

...

In order for the rook to have better drawing chances when the enemy pawns are on the 6th rank and beyond, the pieces must be positioned in such a way that:

  1. The rook and his fellow king can deliver mating threats
  2. One of the pawns can be captured with a check

In the following position, Black's pawns are on the verge of promotion, but White saves the day by pursuing Black's king with continuous mating threats:

White to move draws


1. Rh1 Ke8

Or 1... Kg8 2. Rg1+ Kf8 returning to the original position

2. Ke6 Kd8
3. Kd6 Kc8
4. Kc6 Kb8
5. Rh8+!

Not 5. Kb6?? b1=Q+ -+

5... Ka7
6. Rh7+ Ka6
7. Rh8 Ka5

7... Ka7 is met with 8. Rh7+

8. Kc5 Ka4
9. Kc4 Ka5
1/2-1/2

A draw is inevitable, since 9... Ka3?? leads to 10. Ra8#. It is interesting to note that had the pawns been on b2 and c2 instead, White's mating threats will not materialize after 4. Kc6 and Black would win.

...

In the following study by Salvioli, White cannot win since Black's pawns have reached the 6th rank. However, White saves his half-point because the position of Black's king poses tactical problems when the pawns reach the 7th rank:

Salvioli
1887
White to move draws... again


1. Kf4 Kg2

Or 1... a2 2. Ra1 Kh3 (2... b2?? 3. Rxa2 and Black cannot play 3... b1=Q because his pawn is pinned to the king!) 3. Kf3 Kh4 4. Kf4 and Black cannot win because of the continuous mating threats

2. Rb1!

It is important to choose the correct pawn to attack; 2. Ra1? loses after 2... b2 3. Rb1 Kf2 4. Ke4 Ke2 5. Kd4 Kd2 6. Kc4 Kc2 and the Black king chases the helpless rook away.

2... a2

2... b2 is met by 3. Ke3 and if Black plays 3... a2?? White wins after  4. Rxb2+. This shows the problems encountered when the king is on the same rank as his pawns: The enemy rook can capture the pawns with a check!

3. Ra1 Kf2
4. Ke4 Ke2
5. Kd4 Kd2
6. Kc4 Kc2

Or once again 6... b2 7. Rxa2 Kc2 and Black cannot promote the pawn because of the pin.

7. Kb4 Kb2
8. Rh1 a1=Q
9. Rxa1 Kxa1
10. Kxb3
1/2-1/2

A fine illustration of the theme of winning a pawn with check.

...

To wrap up Part 1, we have seen how the pawns work together to overpower the rook once they have crossed the 6th rank, with neither king having any ability to interfere. Once this happens, the rook can only save a draw if he is able to deliver mating threats, or is able to win a pawn with check. In Part 2, we will look at what happens when both kings are closer to the action.

Links:
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-1.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 2: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-2.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 3: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/05/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-3.html
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 4: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/rook-vs-lone-pawn-part-4.html

Sources:
"Rosen's Chess Endgame Training" by Bernd Rosen
"A Guide to Chess Endings" by Max Euwe
http://compactiongames.about.com/od/screenshots/ig/Left-4-Dead-2-Screenshots/Left-4-Dead-2-Screenshot-.-eQg.htm

Monday, June 9, 2014

June Holiday Presents (Part 2)

Once again, here are 8 more presents for those of you who are too drunk to remember any of your tactics:

Puzzle 1: Black to move and mate in 2

Puzzle 2: White to move

Puzzle 3: Black to move

Puzzle 4: White to move

Puzzle 5: White to move

Puzzle 6: Black to move

Puzzle 7: Black to move

Puzzle 8: White to move

Have fun! (:

Links: 
Part 1: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-holiday-presents-part-1.html

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Caruana vs Svidler: Norway Chess 2014 (Round 2)

For those who have been lamenting that top-level chess nowadays is a bore because of the high frequency of draws, then may I direct your attention to the still-ongoing Norway Chess Tournament 2014. Round 2 was truly an exciting round: Out of 5 games played among top GMs, three ended in decisive results. So to say that GMs nowadays are too "cowardly" to play for a draw is almost certainly misleading and a gross insult to these players!

So let me take the opportunity to analyze with y'all what can be considered the most exciting game of Round 2: Fabiano Caruana vs Peter Svidler, which saw Caruana making a bold knight sacrifice to create a lasting attack on his opponent's king.

Caruana, Fabiano vs Svidler, Peter
Norway Chess 2014, Round 2


1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 e6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nc6
5. Nc3 Qc7
6. Be3 a6
7. Qd2 Nf6
8. O-O-O Be7
9. f3

In typical Sicilian positions like this White prepares to launch a kingside pawn avalanche, and Black seeks counterplay in the centre or queenside. When the Sicilian used to be one of my pet repertoires, my favourite continuation would be to set up a Najdorf-Scheveningen hybrid with the pawns on d6, e6 and a6. In this situation Black will have a small but solid centre, which will help him for any future plans in the centre or queenside.

9... b5
10. Kb1 Ne5
11. g4 (D)

Position after 11. g4

Black has three common ways to reply to White's attack:

  1. He can ignore White's threats altogether and continue development as per normal, but this gives White more time to mobilize his pieces. So for example after 11... O-O 12. g5 Nh5 13. f4!? Black must be mentally prepared to defend against White's upcoming kingside attack.
  2. He can try to hit the centre with 11... d6 or 11... d5, but once again the threat of 12. g5 still remains
  3. He can counterattack on the queenside with a move such as 11... b4, which is precisely what Svidler chose in the actual game.

11... b4!
12. Na4 

Of course 12. Ne2?! leads to 12... Nc4! and White's attack is weakened after the minor piece exchange.

12... h6

With White's knight offside and the g5 advance checked for the moment, Black prepares for 13... d5; a strong central thrust to counter White's kingside attack.

13. Rg1 d5
14. Bf4! (D)

Position after 14. Bf4!

Pinning the knight. On the other hand, exchanging straightaway only helps Black achieve his plans: 14. exd5?! Nxd5 and Black has a solidified his grasp in the centre. White's offside knight will not help him when such a situation occurs.

Looking at the position, it is not hard to tell why this was such a crazy fight: The position is highly double-edged, with many pieces coming under fire from all directions. Tactical opportunities are plenty, and over the board it will certainly be a very tough battle for both sides.

14... dxe4

Not 14... Bd6 15. exd5 Nxd5 16. Nf5! where after 16... exf5, White suddenly breaks through with 17. Qxd5!

15. g5!

Much better than 15. fxe4?! which only creates a weak central pawn for White, and gives Black time to develop the rest of his pieces. White could also try 15. Bxe5 Qxe5 16. Nc6 with some tactical complications for Black.

15... hxg5
16. Rxg5

Attacking both e5 knight and g7 pawn; White has the better chances in this position.

17... Nfd7
17. Rxg7 exf3 (D)

Position after 17... exf3

During post-game analysis, the variation 17... Qa5 was suggested, and after 18. Qg2 exf3 (18... Qxa4? allows White to build a strong attack after 19. Rg8+ Rxg8 20. Qxg8+ Bf8 21. Bg5! Nxf3 22. Nxe6! Nxg5 23. Nxg5) 19. Nxf3 Bb7 Black might be able to fend off White's upcoming attack. I will not go deep into the variations lest I drown you in too many tiny details.

But now, the unthinkable occurs: Ready to launch a lasting assault on the kingside, Caruana lashes out with a knight sacrifice:

18. Nxe6!?


A less aggressive, but more solid continuation will be 18. Qe3 attacking the knight in the centre.

19... fxe6
19. Bd3 Bf6
20. Bg6+

White's sacrifice has paid off: His attack is crashing through, and after 20... Kf8? 21. Rf7+ Kg8 22. Rg1 Black can resign, while 20... Kd8? leads to an even faster demise: 21. Bxe5 Bxe5 (21...Qxe5 22. Rxd7+) 22. Qg5+ with mate on the next move. As quoted by GM Daniel King in his analysis video: "Objectively, who knows what's going on in this position, maybe Black is ok... but over the board, how to defend this is so difficult for Black, and I would take White every time in this position!". I will certainly agree with his words!

But not all hope is lost for Black; in order parry the numerous threats against his king, Svidler makes the critical decision to give up his queen:

20... Nxg6
21. Bxc7 Bxg7 (D)

Position after 21... Bxg7

Black has two passed pawns, two minor pieces and a rook for the queen; a good amount of compensation after the scare that he has been through. His main problems, however, are that his pieces are slightly uncoordinated at the moment, and his king is still dangerously exposed with no apparent safety on either wing of the board. White must seize the initiative quickly in order not to give Black time to rally his pieces together.

22. Qd3

22. Qe3 (attacking both passed pawns) may look strong, but after 22... O-O! Black manages to coordinate his pieces and this spells trouble for White.

22... Nge5
23. Bxe5 Bxe5
24. Qe4

24. Qxf3 Rb8 25. Qc6 Ke7 26. Nc5 also looks promising.

24... Ra7
25. Nc5

White's threat is to win the exchange with Nxd7 followed by Qxe5

25... Ke7
26. Rf1

Taking the exchange straightaway with 26. Nxd7 Rxd7 27. Rxd7+ Bxd7 28. Qxe5 seems fine at first, but after Rf8! White may have problems dealing with the passer on f3. Hence it was important to create a blockade around the pawn first.

26... Rf8

After 26... Rxh2!? 27. Nxd7 Rxd7 28. Qxe5 Rdd2 Black might have sufficient counterplay, but his king's exposed position will still be a thorn in the flesh.

27. Nxd7

Now White cashes in his advantage.

27... Rxd7
28. Qxe5 Rd5
29. Qe3 Rdf5
30. Qf2 (D)

Position after 30. Qf2

While this may look passive for White, the queen in fact makes a very good blockader that releases her fellow rook for operations elsewhere on the board.... such as striking the exposed Black king!

30... a5
31. b3 Bd7
32. Rg1

Black's king is still very dangerously exposed, and the marauding White rook makes full use of that fact!

32... Bc6
33. Kb2 R8f7
34. Rg8 Rf8
35. Rg4 R8f7
36. a3 bxa3+
37. Kxa3 Kd6
38. Rc4 Bd5?

After e.g. 38... Bd7 White still has a technical task ahead

39. Rc8 (D)
1-0

Position after 39. Rc8

Svidler resigns; lack of time and the exposed position of his king prove to be his demise. The threat of c2-c4 decides the game and the f-pawn comes too late: 39. Rc8 Bb7 40. Qd4+ Rd5 41. Qb6+ Ke5 42. Re8 Rf6 (42... Rd6 43. Qc5+ Bd5 44. c4) 43. Qxb7 f2 44. Qc7+ Kf5 45. Qc4 1-0

I do believe that even in this position, many of us will still fumble as White while trying to play for a win (as is the case for all Queen vs Rook + Minor piece endgames!). Nevertheless, we have to give credit to Caruana's adventurous streak when he made that sacrifice on the 18th move. This game dispels the distorted notion that modern day top-level chess is nothing but long and boring draws; it was truly a tough and fighting game, with great play displayed by both sides.

Caruana (left) and Svidler battling it out over the board, Round 2 (Image courtesy of No Logo Norway Chess)

As of the time of posting, Round 5 of the Norway Chess Tournament 2014 is about to begin, and after 4 rounds Caruana is the sole leader with Kramnik in 2nd place. Let us wish the participants all the best, and hope for more exciting games to follow!

Sources:
http://www.chess.com/news/aronian-caruana--grischuk-winners-in-round-2-norway-chess-5495
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3OXnzIPWc8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOlc59ziopc
http://www.oldgloryprints.com/In%20the%20Hands%20of%20Providence.htm
http://norwaychess.com/

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June Holiday Presents (Part 1)

I believe that some of you might get drunk and start forgetting all your tactics during the term break, so in order to sober you up again I have decided to post more freebies for everyone through the course of this month.

For a start here are 8 (very easy) presents for y'all to try out:

Puzzle 1: White to move

Puzzle 2: White to move and mate in 5

Puzzle 3: Black to move

Puzzle 4: Black to move

Puzzle 5: White to move

Puzzle 6: Black to move

Puzzle 7: White to move

Puzzle 8: Black to move and draw


Have fun! (: