Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Endgame winning the hard way

Yesterday, at our city championship, I had Black against a -150 rated opponent. I outplayed him in the middlegame but decided to go the safe way and avoid a hot double-edged battle because I had spotted a won endgame position, and here it was:

position 1
View from Black's side, Black to move.

The winning plan seems to be obvious: push my d-passer. My rooks strangle him, and I have all time in the world to push my passer and even to come along with my King if his help may be necessary. But no, I wanted to win more material fast and pushed c4 with the idea of winning his two pawns against my c-pawn. Bad idea!

position 2
View from Black's side, Black to move.

The drawback of my greediness can be seen here: His rook got counterplay and I could forget winning more material. Earlier, White has offered a draw which I rejected of course, but meanwhile I had to make myself familiar with the half point. But then new hope came because he pushed his f-pawn too far, giving my King a shelter for escape. I saw new hope for a win, giving my two distant passers and winning his two remaining pawns instead.

position 3
View from Black's side, Black to move.

At this point, seemingly even in material, my opponent asked me whether I still did not see that the game was drawn. I ignored his remark, silently looking at the position until I saw my winning plan: Moving my Rg6-b6-b3-g3, taking his last pawn that cannot be protected by his King, then pushing my rim passer to the Queen. And that's how I played it and won. After the game, I said to myself that a cat learns more about catching mice by letting the mouse slip once again instead of swallowing it on the spot. But that's post hoc reasoning. Playing best moves should be better advised.

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