Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Analyzing the duc-chessart Endgame

Now I'm ready to go on this, from the position: White: K on b1, R on f7, P's on a2 and c2; Black: K on g4, R on a8.

1...Rb8ch 2 Kc1 Ra8?

The principle both sides need to keep in mind here is that White should seek to jettison his a-Pawn in exchange for obtaining a winning position with his remaining c-Pawn. The reason for this is that the ending of Rook and Rook's Pawn vs. Rook is notoriously drawn. (For White to win the Black Rook needs to be cut off half a board or more away from the Queening square. Here, I will surely be able to get my King closer than this before White is ready to Queen his a-Pawn.) Therefore, I should play 2...Rc8 rather than Ra8, as I should seek to limit the advance of his c-Pawn, and not worry so much about the a-Pawn.

3 Kb2?

Following the principle just articulated, White should play 3 c3! Note that 3 c4 doesn't work because I then simply win the c-Pawn with 3...Rc8. However, after 3 c3 he has a Pawn on the 3rd and my King cut off by 3 files, which the book says is a win. White's most straightforward win would now be 3...Rc8 4 Kd2 Rd8ch 5 Ke3 Re8ch 6 Kd4 Rd8ch 7 Ke4! Rc8 (If 7...Re8ch 8 Kd5 Rd8ch 9 Kc6 Rc8ch 10 Rc7 1-0) 8 Rg7ch! (Forcing Black's King another file away. Strictly speaking this may not be necessary, but this gives White a margin of error, so that he can now win even if he doesn't know the intricacies involved in the "3 files away" win.) K-h file 9 Kd3 Rd8ch 10 Kc2 Rc8 11 Rg1! K moves 12 Kb3 Rb8ch 13 Ka4 Ra8ch 14 Kb5 Rb8ch 15 Ka6 Rc8 16 Rc1! Rc4 17 Kb5 and the Pawn will advance. Or, 13...Rc8 14 Rc1 K-g file 15 c4 Kf6 16 Kb5 Rb8ch 17 Kc6 Ke7 18 Re1ch Kd8 19 Rd1ch Ke7 (19...Kc8 20 Rh1 1-0) 20 c5 and White has the Lucena Position.

Rb8ch 4 Kc3 Ra8 5 Kb3 Rb8ch 6 Ka4 Rc8 7 Rf2 Ra8ch 8 Kb3 Rb8ch 9 Kc3 Rc8ch 10 Kd2 Ra8 11 Rg2ch??

White completely loses his way here. There is no reason in the world for this move, other than that White simply is at a loss for a productive plan on how to proceed. This move lets my King out of his prison, for no good reason. It accomplishes nothing positive for White.

Kf3 12 Rg1

This is where his Rook should have gone in the first place, preparing to move behind his c-Pawn at the proper time.


My King will now get in front of his c-Pawn, and my drawing chances just shot up immensely. I do not take the a-Pawn, feeling it is more important to get my King into play.

13 Ra1 Kd4 14 a4 Kc4 15 a5 Kb5 16 c3?

This is wrong on principle. White should keep his Pawn back so that he will have a tempo move with the Pawn if he needs it to achieve the opposition.

Rxa5 17 Rxa5ch Kxa5 18 Kd3 Kb5 19 Kd4 Kc6 20 Kc4 Kb6 21 Kd5 Kb7 22 c4?

Another ill-considered Pawn push. Simply 22 Kc5 keeps the opposition for White. However, White still has the win.

Kc7 23 Kc5 Kb7 24 Kd6 Kc8 25 Kc6 Kb8 26 c5??

The final blunder for White. Now I have an easy draw. He should have played 26 Kd7 and his King escorts his Pawn to the Queening square. Perhaps White had the old adage "passed pawns should be pushed" drilled into his head at some point in his chess career. But, like any rule of thumb, it has exceptions!

Kc8 27 Kb6 Kb8 28 Kc6 Kc8 29 Kd6 Kd8 30 c6 Kc8 31 Ke5 Kc7 32 Kd5 Kc8

Not 32...Kd8?? 33 Kd6 Kc8 34 c7 1-0. You always go straight back in these situations.

33 Kd6 Kd8 34 Kd5 Kc7 35 Kc5 Kc8

Again, straight back.

36 Kb6 Kb8 37 Kc5 Kc7 38 Kd5 Kc8 39 Ke6 Kc7 40 Kd5

This repeats the same position for the third time, with the same player to move. Thus, I could have claimed the draw. When I started playing on the Internet I assumed the system would automatically declare a draw when a three-time repetition came up. In time I learned that you have to claim the draw, the idea being that in an over-the-board tournament you have to claim the draw, so the same should hold true in Internet play. I recommend clicking on the "draw" button as often as possible in these situations. You may not always have time to do it after every move, but the more often you can do it the more chance to end the game.

Why is White playing on here? One reason might be frustration at not being able to convert his position to a win. It is hard psychologically to admit you have blown a won game. The other reason might be more insidious. In a sudden death time control, as this was, White literally has nothing to lose playing on and hoping to run Black out of time. If he himself runs out, he still has the draw as Black does not have mating material; whereas, if Black runs out White has mating material with the Pawn and can get the win.

This illustrates the folly of the sudden death time controls which have proliferated in American chess in the last 20 years. It is really a sad trend in my opinion, because it converts what should be a beautiful game of mental acuity into a game of physical dexterity, as time scrambles are inevitable in which each player seeks to move and punch his clock as fast as possible. Also, it opens the door to all kinds of disputes--illegal moves and what should be done about them, punching the clock with one hand and moving the piece with the other, et al.

I don't know what the time was in my game, as my game score does not have the times recorded, but it is possible that I was down to a few seconds and he was trying to run me out of time. Fortunately, the draw was so easy at this point that I didn't need much time to make the moves.

Kc8 41 Kd6 Kd8 42 c7ch Kc8 43 Kc6 Stalemate

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