Thursday, December 22, 2005

Deflect and Stretch

This position looks like it came straight out of an endgame manual on rook and pawns endings, but it is an actual position from an online game. So, the highly-regarded chess trainer, Mark Dvoretsky, had nothing to do with this example. He would, however, know exactly what to do with it!

My opponent and I had played on equal basis throughout the game, and a pawn advantage was one of the two good things I can show for my efforts. The other is a positional advantage consisting of a passed C pawn and aggressively placed king and rook. As you know, rook and pawn endings are drawish even if one side has an extra pawn. So, the question is how do you make your extra pawn count. Is it possible to win in this position?

Very often, it is not the passed pawn that ends up being promoted, but another pawn whose advance to the queening square is made possible by exchanging off one advantage for another.

From this position, white played 1. c6+ , and the black king must now relinquish his support for the pawn on e6. He might as well take the C pawn with 1... Kc6 . Now, white picks up the under-defended E pawn by 2. Re6+, Re6+ 3. Ke6. All white has done is to exchange his C pawn for the black's E pawn, resulting in the exchange of the rooks as well. But, white retains a passed pawn in the form of a pawn on e4.

Now, the strategy, or technique is different. White will force black to address the passed E pawn while he goes after the queenside pawns. Black will be stretched between stopping the E pawn and defending his queenside pawns. As the saying goes, something has to give!

Play continued 3... Kc7 4. Kd5, Kd7 5. Kc5, Kc7 6. e5, Kd7 7. Kb6, Ke6 8. Ka6, Ke5 9. Kb5, Ke5 and ultimately white's win will come from his A nd B pawns.


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