Either You Know It or You Don’t
In an ICC 5-minute blitz game I found myself battling LeopoldStotch. This person’s profile says he is 9 years old, from Colorado, and the current rating of the child genius at least in ICC blitz is 2506!
Let’s pick up the action at the very end, where I have 12 seconds left and the nine year old, (typical for nine year olds), has more than a minute. Blitz is the ultimate arbiter asking “Do You Know This Position?” A person “inventing a solution” for the first time, i.e. muddling through, won’t win in the 12 seconds!
IM Aries2 – LeopoldStotch (2506)
Well, 1. Kb6?? stalemate does not suggest itself. 1. Rf7 Ba7 2. Kc6 B-somewhere doesn’t get anywhere either! I found the key idea, a tempo loss,
1. Rg8 (or other rook moves along the 8th rank). Black’s reply is forced:
Do you see the win now? Escaping me in the time remaining was the very simple 2. Rg7+ Ka8 3. Kb6 B-somewhere 4. a7! nailing the black king in and preventing the bishop return to b8. Even if the bishop can now check the white king, the white king finds haven on a6 and there no stalemates, so white wins.
This tempo loss motif finds its way into other endings where white has to break down a compact black formation.
One such position is discussed in Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.
In a blitz or regular game sudden death finale, it really pays to know this, because otherwise one would run out of time!
The annoyance is that a player’s first tendency is to use the White King close up to mate the counterpart, but 1. Qa6? Rc7+ 2. Kb6 Rc6+! 3. Kxc6 is stalemate! A typical blunder where the king and queen were just too close!
The win is quite elegant and not the most obvious.
1. Qe5+! Ka8 (or 1…Ka7, same thing) 2. Qa1+! (using the long-range power of the queen) 2…Kb8 3. Qa5! reaching the same position as our starting one except now it’s black to move. It turns out black cannot keep his rook near the king, and it must move far away, where it is lost in a few moves due to the checks. For example, 3…Rb1 (3…Rh7 4. Qe5+ Ka8 5. Qa1+! (this again!) 5…Kb8 (or 5…Ra7 6. Qh8 mate!) 6. Qb1+ is another excellent example of the queen’s range, picking up the rook) 4. Qd8+ Ka7 5. Qd4+ Ka8 6. Qh8+ Ka7 7. Qh7+ picking up the errant rook!
As Dvoretsky points out, Philidor introduced this study in 1777. It demonstrates very well how the queen can make use of all the squares on the board. If I had seen it anytime between 1777 and 2009, I would have defeated IM Pruess in the Mesa International! I could not figure out how to separate the K & R in a sudden death finale.
And never mind the time I could not defeat IM Danny Edelman at the Manhattan Chess Club in a Game/30 game, because I mistakenly believed in K&B&N versus lone king, the B&N *must* keep the opposing king penned to the last rank and shepherd it to the right corner. That false idea kept me from executing the correct B&N mate, where the superior side *does* allow the lone king some breathing room while it is shepherded to the corner of the bishop’s color. At least it was a moral victory of sorts since it was a good game before the botch (I recall I was white in a Winawer, but lost the game score.) This game, of course, was a long time ago because the poor Manhattan Chess Club does not exist anymore.
Now I’m 0 for 3 in these things, but at least have started to collect the failures!
Try this agonizing puzzle from Dvoretsky’s excellent “Endgame Manual 2nd Edition”!
White to play and win.
The first moves are obvious: 1. b6 axb6 2. a6
Kb6. Kc6 Now what?
Many readers are asking about 14-year-old GM Illya Nyzhnik (2530) from Ukraine (note: this is a Chessbase spelling, some people prefer Nyzhnyk which is cooler). For example what does he look like?
Here he is.