Nailing Down an Endgame Advantage
This week, at our chess club, we had another fine lesson by our IM who is also the endgame expert of ours. He presented this position:
Black to move.
First, as always, comes this question: Who is better, how much, and why? It is clear that Black is better, even much better, and this should him bring a win. Both have been strong players, and the game was drawn. What went wrong?
Black has not been aware WHY he was better and he missed to nail down the advantage. Black certainly is better because his King is better, his Knight is better and his pawns are more advanced, and his whole army is united whereas White's army is split.
Black too fast pushed forward his plan, that is, an attack on the white pawns. He moved b4 with the idea Nb7-d6-b5-a3 to attack c2. Most of us would have played this way, but it comes out that White manages to save his pawns with Kg4-f3-e2-d1.
The only way to win is by nailing down the advantage of the split white army and move 1.-Ke3!, cutting off the white King from his pawns forever. The plan of attacking the white pawns can wait because White cannot move them, and his Knight already is in his best position to block the black King from intruding.
Take home message: If you are better, always look where your biggest advantage is and try to make it even better.
Glenn Wilson says in his comment that the position is drawn according to a Fritz analysis. So I have done an analysis with Deep Shredder and come to the same conclusion. Thanks Glenn!
Pawn move as played in the game
1.-b4 2.Kf3 Nd6 3.Ke2 Nb5 4.Kd2 drawn because the white King has joined his army.
1.-Nd6 2. Kf3 Ne4 3.c4 bxc4 4.bxc4 Kd3 5.Kf4 Nc5 6.Ke5 Kxc4 7.Na3+ Kb3 8.Nb5 a4 9.Kd5 Nd3 10.Kc6 Nf4 11.Kc5 Ne6+ 12.Kc6 Kb4 13.Kb6 this looks also drawn but surely is more critical than the line after the pawn move.
1.-Ke3 2.Kf5 b4 3.Ke5 Nc5 4.Kd5 Ne4 5.Kc6 Nc3 6.Kb6! Nxb1 7.Kxa5 Kd2 8.Kxb4 Kxc2 drawn. It seems our IM has overlooked that the Knight on b1 can be given and that the King has enough time to attack the black pawns from the north side.