“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer”
A quick reminder about how to do it:
- Have a look at the position for 1 minute (watch the clock)
- Think about the choices in front of you and pick the one you feel it is right
- Verify it in your mind the best you can
- Compare it with the solution
Endgame play continues to be a tough nut to crack as I can see week after week at our club. I asked both players about this position and got the following answers:
Mengbai: “Don’t know. I guess I am losing”
Steven: “Don’t know. Winning?”
Have a look at the position (White to move) and decide for yourselves.
It is an interesting endgame, one you could encounter quite often at club level. Going over the position we can see the following important aspects:
- Black is up a pawn
- Kf4 is by far better than Kg8; the rather obvious Kf4-e5 would put it right in the center, supporting the d5-pawn
- White has a passed d5-pawn, while Black has a passed a7-pawn; d5 is much stronger since it already is on the 5th rank. Black stands to lose the a7-pawn fairly quickly
- Rd1 is pretty much tied up behind the passer but if White is not playing aggressive, it could swing to the 2nd row and possibly capture some white pawns in the process; if Black captures the f2-pawn and there is no imminent win for White, the e4-pawn becomes a passer and a threat
- Rc5 is not placed in its best position but working together with the d5-pawn and its king, could make it very useful
Did you have something similar coming out of your analysis? How about a plan of action for White? In my opinion, after Kf4-e5 the combined threats of promoting the d5-pawn and back rank mating Kg8 (when it moves over to stop the passer) are overwhelming. White is simply winning here. The only challenge is to find the right moves and play aggressive.
In the game White managed to win the a7-pawn but her play was very tentative. I am not sure what was she concerned about when her passer reached the d6-square and stayed there longer than needed. Probably it is a good thing I had to watch other games meantime and missed a number of moves played. The simple line below shows a straight forward way for White to win. Next time we are going to look at the last part of this endgame.
Valer Eugen Demian