Friday, September 07, 2007

UK - China Match, more... I will flatter myself by saying that some of you may have noticed that I have a propensity for showcasing endings more than any other part of the game. This is true; I love endings. Here, we have a very instructive ending between the young WGM Hou Yifan and GM Nicholas Pert. Geez, it pains me to distinguish GM titles by gender but at the present time I can only hope that gender chess be abolished. By the way, WGM Hou won this game and so it seems that her WGM is as good as Pert's GM title. I digressed; let's get back to the game, shall we?

From the position above, Hou enjoyed a 3-1 pawn advantage plus a very passively positioned black king. Her rook on g2 was well-placed behind the passed G pawn and still able to influence the queenside; there are five ranks behind the passed G pawn along which the rook can travel. The 2-1 pawn situation in the queenside needed to be simplified into one outside passed pawn, and so Hou moved 56. Kc5 Rb1 57. c4 bc4 58. Kc4 Rc1+ 59. Kb5 Rb1+ 60. Ka5 Rb8 ( looks like the white king was seriously cut off from the rest of the board, but not really ) 61. a4 ( good time to advance the outside passed pawn ) Ra8+ 62. Kb5 Rb8+ ( black was reduced to harassing checks while white made progress )

From here, Hou demonstrated her deep knowledge of rook and pawns endings by approaching the menacing rook. In other words, Hou meant to cut its checking distance in order to move her passed pawn closer to promotion. Play continued 63. Kc6 Rc8+ 64. Kb7 ( now, black has to spend a move ) Re8 65. a5 ( time to advance one more square ) Re7+ 66. Kc6 ( again, cutting the checking distance of the rook ) Re6+ 67. Kd7

From here, I stopped to wonder if the white king had advanced too far to save her passed A pawn. In fact, she had but a new strategy kicks in once black goes after it with 67...Re5. The strategy dictates giving up the G pawn to get the white rook behind the A pawn while the king closes in on the queening square/defending rook. The black king will be too far to participate in any of this action. For example, 67...Re5 68. Ra2 Kg6 69. a6 Rd5+ 70. Kc6 Rd8 71. a7 Rc8+ 72. Kb7 Rd8 73. a8 (Q). So, from the position above, 67...Rf6 68. Rg5 Rf1 ( 68...Kh6 69.g7 ) 69. Kc6 Ra1 70. Kb6 Re1 71. a6 Re6+ 72. Kb7 Re7 73. Kc8 ( doesn't this look familiar already? ) Re8+ 74. Kd7 and black finally resigned ( position below ).

For example, 74...Ra8 75. Ra5 Kg6 76. a7 white wins as in the previous analysis. Superb endgame technique by WGM Hou Yifan.


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