Friday, November 14, 2008

The first round of the olympiad for the Philippine team could be better, but they did not perform badly either. They scored one win, one draw, and two loses. Keep in mind that the Chinese team is one of the best teams in the olympiad, and they should finish near the top. Nevertheless, we always want to see the Filipino players do great. GM Wesley So scored the only win for the team, and IM John Paul Gonzalez drew his game against Chinese GM Li Chao.
I am partial to endings, and you will see mostly endgame analysis on this site. As you know, some people love the openings, and all the new theory. You will see very little opening theory here. In the endings, there are very few new theories. The winning principles of rook and pawn endings haven't changed in a long time, and so with minor piece endings. What has changed is the medium of instruction. In my early days of playing chess, books were the only way to acquire knowledge aside from a tutor. Back then, Reuben Fine's endgame treatise was the standard, but it has been revised recently after numerous inaccuracies were discovered over the years. Nowadays, there are DVDs and software, and many of them are just wonderful to use.
You will see in the diagram above the drawn rook and pawn ending between Gomez and Li Chao. Sure, black is a pawn up but we know that in rook and pawn endings an extra pawn does not mean a win. In fact, rook and pawn endings are notorious for being drawish inspite of an extra pawn. If you reach this position in a non-master tournament, you better play on because your opponent can misplay this position and your extra pawn might win the game. However, among those who know, this is drawn. After 50... Kd7, you come to the position above. Play continued 51. Kc4 Ke7 52. Kd4 Kf7 . Taking the rook with 53. Ke5 loses for white. So, 53. Ra6 Re7 and black keeps the white king from crossing the E file. White played 54. Kd3 Re8 55. Rb6 and white needs to keep the black king from crossing the sixth rank. Black played 55...Kg7 56. Ra6 DRAW. The point here is to keep the black king as far away from the advancing G pawn so that when the white rook swings over to attack the pawn the black rook is the only one to defend it from behind. The white king can then approach the G pawn since the rook will no longer be keeping him from crossing the E file. The G pawn will fall and the game drawn.


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