Category Archives: Endgames

The Opening to the Middle Game Again

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White should play 1.Nd3.

His plan is to launch a minority attack by playing b4 to b5. To help this plan, the Knight should be on d3 rather than f3. So it would not help White’s plan if he played 1.Nf3 as the Knight is not covering b4 and c5 in the way it is after White plays 1. Nd3.

This week’s problem is taken from a game by the English Grandmaster, Plaskett. He is a former British Champion. He is probably equally famous for having won a great deal of money on ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’

White is to play. He has an isolated Queen’s Pawn. Should he settle down to a long defence of this pawn? What is the best way for White to approach this position?

Steven Carr

Wrong Exchanges

It has been a common observation at amateur level that they tend to exchange almost equal value pieces whilst playing against stronger opponent, with a draw in mind. Sometimes, they just move mechanically based on general rules. This in fact, gives masters an opportunity to demonstrate their technique. Here is an instructive example:

In the given position, Black exchanged his knight against White’s bishop and went for a bishop vs. knight endgame. At first this looks quite innocent and even a good idea because we have been told that a bishop is usually better than a knight in the endgame against knight. Secondly the position is not so closed, so Black might be able to open the position & can change the pawn structure. Lastly, Black could emerge with a passed pawn on either c- or d-file.

But taking the bishop on d3 is actually a mistake because it has nothing to attack. And White’s knight would become very active on c3, d4 or f4.

Interesting Exercise: Change the position of the bishop from e8 to d8 and analyse the position! This kind of imagination is helpful in learning chess.

Question: How would you recapture on d3?
Answer: Recapturing with king is dubious due to 1…c5!. For example 1…c5! 2. Nc1 Bb5+ 3.Kd2 Bc4 from where the bishop can be exchanged against the knight almost by force, while pawns on c5 and d5 guarantees Black a better game.

In the game Alekhine played cxd3! and now c5 is rather dubious idea (compare it with the previous line 1. Kxd3)

1.cxd3 c5?! 2.d4! c4

2…cxd4 is even worse because of 3. Kxd4 Kc6 and 4. Kc5 is winning.


The pawn can’t be taken because of Nf4

3…gxf5 4.h4!

Fixing a weakness, which is quite common in masters’ game!

Black tried to fight for next 20 moves but failed to change the outcome of the game.

Interesting Exercise: From here try to win the position against your friend or even an engine.

Ashvin Chauhan

Automatic Moves

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White can punish Black’s greed by playing 1. Qc1 and the Black Queen is trapped. 1.. Qa5 is met by 2. Bb5+.

This week’s problem shows the pitfalls of making automatic replies.

White sees that his Queen is attacked and that the Black Pawn on b6 is en prise, and so automatically plays 1. Qxb6 after a few seconds thought. Black castled and White did not have a big edge.

What had White missed? How can he get a big advantage by keeping the Black King in the centre of the board where it can be attacked?

Steven Carr

The Passed Pawn – Underpromotion

Last week, we looked at the passed pawn in general. Promoting a passed pawn usually ends the game in favour of the promoter as it creates huge material imbalance if the pawn becomes a queen. But this is not always the case!

Sometimes underpromotion is necessary in order to checkmate the opponent king and to meet opponent’s resources such as counter promotion, checkmate threats, the threat of capturing the promoted piece and drawing tricks. Here are some enlightening examples:

1) Robert Fontaine against Maxime Vachier Lagrave in 2007:

Underpromotion to meet perpetual checks and checkmating the opponent king

Q: How would you proceed with Black pieces?
A: Black can checkmate the opponent king with series of forcing moves using underpromotion.

1… f1=N+!!

This is the only way to pocket the point, promoting the pawn into a queen leads only to a draw after Qxc7.

2.Kf4 Rh4+ 3.Kg5 Be3+!

Sacrificing the rook.

4.Kxh4 g5+
5.Kh5 Ng3+

White resigned in view of 6. Kg6 g4#.

2) Aron G Reshko against Oleg Kaminsky in 1972:
Underpromotion to avoid stalemate tricks

Q: What would you promote to on a8?
A: Promoting to a queen or rook fails to Qf7+!! due to stalemate tricks. In the game White promoted the pawn into a bishop and went on win after couple of moves.

3) Nakamura against Kramnik in 2012:
Underpromotion leaves Black without any counter chances.

Q: How would you proceed with the White pieces?
A: In the game White played 1.c8=N+, the only move to win the game because promoting pawn into queen can be met by exd1=Q+ whilst 1.Kxe2 can be met by f3+ followed by Bxc7. Black tried hard for next 18 moves but failed to save the day. Here are rest of the moves in case you’re interested.

62…Kf6 63.Kxe2 Ke5 64.Nb6 Kd4 65.Bg2 Be1 66.Nd5 Ke5 67.Nb4 Bh4 68.Nd3+ Kf5 69.Kxd2 Kg4 70.Ke2 Bf6 71.N1f2+ Kg3 72.Bf3 Bd8 73.Ne4+ Kh4 74.Ne5 Bc7 75.Ng6+ Kh3 76.Ne7 Bd8 77.Nf5 Bb6 78.Kf1 Kh2 79.Bg4 f3 80.Nh4 1–0

Ashvin Chauhan

Being Too Greedy In The Opening

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White can draw with 1. Kb7! Kc4 2. Kc7 d5 3 Kc6.

But 1. Ka7 loses to 1…Kc4 and 1. Kb8 loses to 1…Kc6.

The problem shows that care is needed even in simple positions.

This week’s problem illustrates the dangers of taking pawns with your queen in the opening.

The game went 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Ne4 3. Bf4 c5 4. d5 Qb6 5. Nd2 Nxd2 6. Bxd2 Qxb2 7. e4 d6 8. Rb1 Qxa2.

How does White get an advantage?

Steven Carr

Careful Calculation

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White can keep a winning advantage with 1. Re1! I missed that move and resigned instead.

This week’s problem shows that careful calculation is needed in even simple positions.

White has to play and draw. It is not difficult, but you have to get the right move.

How does White draw?

Steven Carr

Amateur Versus Master: Game Twenty Four

NOT the Latvian Gambit

My opponent in this ICCF correspondence chess game lives in Latvia. This was pretty much a standard Sicilian Defense with no gambits involved.

During the course of this correspondence chess game, I offered a draw twice. White took 15 days to decline the first draw offer and 21 days to accept the second draw offer. He was looking for a win that he was hoping that I missed. He failed to find one. I believe that there was no win for him to find in this correspondence chess game.

I drew my previous game with Guntis, but that game is not yet published anywhere. This draw put me into a tie for first place in this section and I now have second place on tie breakers. I expect to win my remaining games In this section, but that still does not guarantee that I will finish in first place.

Mike Serovey

Endgame Studies

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White can draw with 1. Kb7! a5 2. Kc6! Kb4 3. Kd5 Kxa4 4. Kc4 and White can bring his king back to c1 and prevent Black from promoting his pawn.

Endgame studies can be useful for practising calculation and imagination.

Some endgame studies use positions which seem so composed that they are unlikely to occur in actual play. By contrast, this week’s problem has a position which could have come from a game.

How does White play and win?

Steven Carr

Amateur Versus Master: Game Twenty Three

I Had Some Klewe How to Draw This Correspondence Chess Game!

My opponent in the correspondence chess game is an ICCF master who lives in Germany.

White has a tendency to play unorthodox openings. In this correspondence chess game, White chose Benko’s Opening and I responded with the Modern Defense. We then transposed into the Kings Indian Defense, Panno Variation. Although I ended up playing some lines that I had never seen before, thanks to my databases of games, I was able to play a solid variation.

As Black, I ended up with a slight positional advantage and I kept that slight positional advantage after some middle game exchanges that traded down into an endgame. Part of that advantage included tandem (They are also called Horwitz Bishops after Bernhard Horwitz and mistakenly called Harrwitz Bishops after Daniel Harrwitz.) bishops that were aimed at the White Queenside. I still had those tandem bishops on move number 40 when White offered a draw, but there were no targets left on the Queenside for those bishops to attack. Because I was unable to find a way to capitalize on the very slight positional advantage, I accepted the draw offer.

This draw puts me into a temporary tie for third place in this section and fourth on tie breaks.

Mike Serovey

I Had a Five-Way…

tie for first place in this section

My opponent is lower rated than I am and he is from Turkey. He had White and he was playing for a win in positions that were rather even. I offered a draw after making my 37th move. He declined my offer and then offered a draw of his own 27 moves later.

While analyzing the endgame I discovered that one line of play would often transpose into another one. While trying to win the endgame, my opponent went into and out of nearly evey line of play that I analyzed! When he finally realized that there was no win for him, then he agreed to a draw! Although I do admire persistance, I found his annoying!

I castled on the Kingside and White castled on the Queenside. Some chess coaches have commented that when players castle on opposite wings, then it is a race to see who can checkmate the opposing King first. I have found that I stand a better chance of winning that race if I also take care to protect my own King first!

All of the pawns stayed on the chess board until I played my 27th move. I call that a closed position and chess engines are weak in closed positions. I used my chess engines mainly to blunder check my analysis and to explore various ideas. White was basically following my analysis that was posted in the engine room on and then looking to see if he could find a win that I missed.

When White offered me a chance to open up the b file I took it because that gave me an open file to use to attack the White King. White never left that file unprotected long enough for any of my remaining pieces to penetrate his pawn structure using that file. So, nothing came of that file being open.

Both sides took turns attacking and defending various pieces, pawns and squares. In the end, nothing came from all of that attacking, defending and counter attacking. This was a hard-fought draw!

This draw put the both of us into a five-way tie for first place in this section. All five of us drew the other four players in the tie and we beat the same patzer who now is in last place. There is no way to break that kind of tie.

Mike Serovey