Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Not All Hanging Pieces are Free


A hanging rook looked very enticing, but hold your horses. Look around, spend a second or two, it may have been left there for a reason. Not all that glitters is gold.

Black's last move captured a knight on f6 with 25...Qf6. Although material was even, Black's pieces were more actively positioned. White's bishop on b1 and the rook on a1 needed to join the game. Black's queen on f6 threatened to capture the rook on a1.

White moved 26.Nc4, a dangerous move that initially looked like a blunder. If greed overcame Black, he would have lost. If 26...Qa1, then 27.Bh7+ and the queen is lost due to a discovered attack. In a 5-min blitz game, one could easily go for it.  

I decided to exchange rooks on the D file and keep the initiative with an attack on the White queen. So, 26...Rd1 27.Qd1 Rd8, and still eyeing the prize. 

White played 28.Qe2?, losing sight of the trap he laid for Black. To maintain the trap and keep his rook on a1 protected, he must keep his queen on the first rank. With his last move, Black was able to capture the rook without the threat of a discovered check on h7 by the bishop. Black responded with 28...Qa1 for the win.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Using a Tempo for the Win


As in any game of chess, when one has material advantage, the question is always how to convert it into a win. We know that seeking exchanges will increase that advantage, but where is that coup de grace that finally bags the win.

As Black, I enjoyed a comfortable advantage over my opponent. But even with a two-pawn advantage, connected central passed pawns plus a rook for his out-of-position Knight, the win still had to be worked out.

Black played 44...e4 to support his D pawn. The pawns are connected  and ready to roll down the files to promotion.

White replied with 45.g4 to begin his own pawn roller on the kingside, having a pawn majority there. I must admit that the next move was not premeditated but came to me only after taking a closer look at the position after White's move. I figured that the fastest way to victory was through a nifty discovered check. That would begin with 45... Rh3+!

White must capture. There is no other move. 

46.Kh3 and then the clincher 46...d2+

47.Kh2 and finally Black promotes his D pawn into a Queen with 47...D1(Q). After a few more moves, White resigned.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Draws are not Easy


I played 37... Be3 to help out in the defense against White's charging pawns and indirectly putting pressure on the a7 pawn. White is two pawns up. His bishop on b2 cannot get to the base of my pawn chain while my bishop on e3 can attack White's pawn on g3. I pinned my hopes on my better bishop for counter-attacking if I got out of this bind. 

So, after 38.c6+ bc6  39.dc6+ Kc7 I thought that I had alleviated my position and stood a good chance of capturing the pawn on a7. However, credit to my opponent, he found the aggressive 40.Rd1. White gave up his pawn on a7 for attacking chances on the other side of the board. Let us not forget that White still has that annoying passed pawn on c6. The question was which piece should I capture the a7 pawn with?

I decided on the bishop, and so played 40...Ba7  41.Rd7+... I figured that if I captured with the rook instead, such as 40...Ra7, White could further increase his winning chances by forcing the exchange of rooks with 41.Rd7+ and then use his passed C pawn to tie down, or deflect my king while heading over to the Black pawns on the other side of the board. It is strategy, not much hard calculations.

41...Kc8  42.Rg7... I was uncertain if White expected the check on b8 or not but my next move 42...Rb8+ activated my rook from its miserable life in the corner. Play continued with 43. Ka6 Rb2 44. Ka7

Rook and pawn endings with one side having an extra pawn usually end up drawn--as this one did.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Losing the Advantage


It seems to be the status quo. I am down in material, and fighting to get even. Against a good player, unless there is a major lapse of judgment, a one-piece advantage is a won game. But, winning players do commit blunders. It is up to the losing player to tread water, and hope for the best.

I am a minor piece down, having lost a knight en prise. Now, 23.Qc4+ and Black could have just moved his King to h8. Instead, Black played 23...Re6. I have already planned to move my rook up to the d5 square however Black responds, but 23...Re6 makes my life easier. Why move the rook into a pin? Why take away a defender of the bishop on f5 when it was quite obvious that 24.Rd5 and 25.Rf1 were coming?

So, 24.Rd5 attacking the Black Queen and the bishop by extension. Black thought for a while, and decided to play 24...Qf4. This line seems worse than 24...Qf6 even if there was 25.g4 in the works.

Naturally, 25.Rf1 followed, doubling up on the bishop on f5. It looked like the bishop was lost at this point. Black's losing the bishop would have resulted in equal material, not necessarily a lost game, but Black had other ideas. Alas, 25...Qf1? 

26.Qf1 g6  27.Qc4 R(8)e8 28.Rd7 e3  29.Qc7 (see below)

From here on, more bad news for Black. Here we are at the well-known mating net where the beleaguered king is hemmed in at the corner, and attackers on the seventh rank. Black doubled up on the f7 square with 29... Rf6. It was just a matter of technique for White to win via 30.Rg7+ Kf8  31.Rh7


Monday, October 05, 2020

Overcoming a Two-piece Material Disadvantage

At this point in the game, after 23...Ke7, as White, I found myself paying heavily for the mistakes I committed. Down two minor pieces with only two pawns to show, my plan was to create complications and swindle my opponent. And of all the advantages, my opponent possessed the bishop pair. I focused my play on the indirect pin on the Black King by the rook on e1.

24.f4 Bf4 I hoped for the bishop to flee somewhere so that I could capture the Black rook, taking advantage of the pin. But Black had a point. If 25.Qd5, then 25...Bc1 and things will still work out for him quite well. So, 25.Rc2 renewing the threat. Black pulled his bishop off the f4 square to 25...Bd6. At this point, I took advantage of the pin via 26.Qd5.

Some material regained, but the capture of the rook was not enough to fully equalize. With correct play, Black was still winning.

 Black moved to get out of the pin 26... Kf8  27.Qf3 Re8  28.Qf6 What else could White do but to play actively. Here, White planned to harass the Black king with a check on h8.  

Unfortunately for Black, he played 28...Bd5, threatening mate on g2. But it would not be a mate because of the rook on c2. Perhaps, Black overlooked the rook, but he also overlooked the winning move for White. 29.Qh8 checkmate. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Hang On. Don't Give Up. Create Complications. They Might Bear Fruit.

White played 21.Rc7 capturing a pawn, a pawn-grab that tangentially led to his defeat. Black prepared the groundwork for a counterattack with 21...hg3  22. hg3. The problem with White's recapture at g3 with the f pawn is that the e3 square became weak. Recapturing with the King, such as 22.Kg3 opens up attacking lines beginning with 22...Nh5+. The stage is set for the comeback victory, being down a rook.

22...Nd5 attacking the rook on c7. Considering what happened next, White should have given up the rook for the knight with a move like 23.Qc1. Instead, White played 23.Rc1.

Clearly, White overlooked the fork in 23...Ne3+. Black won after several more moves. We all had that feeling of hopelessness,  to resign the game, presuming that the material disadvantage is simply too debilitating. But, in this case, I played on, creating weaknesses in my opponent's position, doing the best we can,  plus a healthy dose of luck.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Whose Double Rooks are Faster

Someone theorized that frequency of rook and pawn endings stems from the late entry of the rooks into the game, being the last pieces to be developed. Well, I am not too convinced by it. Rooks can be exchanged off in the middlegame, and that is not uncommon. Rooks need space and long avenues of attack plus coordination.

With 31. Kf4, I threatened a mating pattern with the rooks by harassing the Black king along the 7th and 8th ranks. It will be tight and perilous for the Black king if the rook on c3 gets to c7. Black countered with 31...R2g2, connecting his rooks and drumming up a mating attack of his own. Play went on with 32.R3c7+ Ke6

33.Re8+ Kf6  34.Rf8+ Ke6 35.Re8 Kf6 and we agreed to a draw. I was contented with a draw since my clock came very close to flag down and thus forfeiting the game to time. However, out of curiosity, I submitted the position to computer analysis to see if there was a way to victory.

Computer analysis suggested 36.Ree7 which increases the possibility of a mate. The mate would consists of White rooks on f7 and e7 with the Black king not having a way out.

The Black king required a free square to dodge the attacking rooks. The rook on g6 needed to move out. The moves would go 36...Rg6  37.Rf7+ Kg6 to which White should respond, not with 38.Rg7+, but with the 38.h4!

If 38...Rh5, then 38.Rg7+ winning the Black rook on g2. So, 38...R5g4+

At this point, White should play another finesse move 39. Ke3! and Black is surely to lose a rook. If Black plays 39...Rh4, then 40.Rg7+. Note that 39. fg4 , instead of 39.Ke3, capturing the rook, there follows 39...Rf2+ recovering the rook via f7.