Two Pawn Advantage, Not Enough?!

With minor piece endgames, sometimes what appears to be sufficient material for a win is actually insufficient. Have a quick look at the position below. Most of us improvers would likely conclude that white is winning, especially since it’s white to move and the black pawn on a5 is lost. That left white with two pawns and a bishop against just a bishop of the same color.

Appearances can be deceptive. It’s a mistake to rely on intuition alone in the endgame. Two pawns were not sufficient for the win in this position!

GM Khalifman won the game, but only after GM Meier resigned. There was no forced win for white, so my surmise is that GM Meier ran out of time. Up to the move where he resigned, he defended brilliantly. The draw after move 75 was easy enough even for a fish like me to spot, so I’m quite certain that GM Meier knew the position was a draw. The best white could do was maneuver until there was a draw by threefold repetition or by the 50-move rule.

Have a go and set up the position where my analysis ends. If white moves his bishop to c7, it blocks the c-pawn. Black can move the bishop off the diagonal and prepare to place it on the b8/h2 diagonal. White cannot move the king without dropping the pawn, so the bishop has to move. If Bb8, the black bishop moves back to a5. If Bc8, the black bishop goes to the b8/h2 diagonal. Game drawn in either case.

Glenn Mitchell