Anatoly Karpov

A player my Dad admires a lot is Anatoly Karpov. He was the World Champion after Bobby Fischer and held the title for 10 years before losing to Garry Kasparov.

Karpov is really good at endgames and grinding away in better positions. Here is an example from this year:

Sam Davies

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Passive Rooks

I’ve been going through a lot of rook endgames with my Dad recently and it came in useful in the following game. White’s position became very passive after 27…Rc3 and under pressure missed 30…Rxd3. I’m not sure I played it in the very best way after that but it seemed as if it should be enough to win.

Sam Davies

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An Error in Minev

My Dad was showing me this rook endgame from Nikolay Minev’s book on rook endgames. Minev gives this as winning for Black after 77.Rb2+ Kc5 78.Rc2+ Kd4 79.Ra2?? Ra6 but I asked why White can’t play 79.Rc6. We came to the conclusion that it draws, and the engine says that 79.Rc8 and 79.Rc7 draw too.

In the game Gheorghiu played 77.Ra1? and after 77…Kb4! he resigned because after 78.Rb1+ Ka5 79.Ra1 Ra6 White is in zugwang, which must have been difficult to see. After 80.Ra2 Kb4 81.Rb2+ Kc3, the rook has run out of checking room.

Sam Davies

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More Tactical Sharpness

Here’s some more tactical sharpness, this time by the Chinese lady star, Hou Yifan. I don’t think Anatoly Karpov appreciated the strength of 18.b5! until it was too late and White soon emerged with an extra piece. I now know why my Dad wants me to practice tactics every day, you need to be on your guard against such ideas all the time:

Sam Davies

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Tactical Sharpness

I was impressed by White’s tactical sharpness in the following game. He took the initiative with the unexpected 13.Nh4! and then followed up with the hammer blow, 16.Bxh6!. The game ended with another neat sequence with 23.Bxf7! and 24.Bf8!.

Sam Davies

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Working Without Engines

My Dad and I usually look at chess without an engine, trying to figure things out for ourselves. Dad says that this is a better way to develop as a player because using an engine leads to people becoming too reliant on them in their thinking. Here is an example:

We found this position while going through IM John Cox’s book on the Berlin. Black played 47…c5 which looks like a great try, but Cox thought it might be a blunder. Carlsen then answered with 48.e6+ which was given two question marks, Cox commenting that 48.f6 ‘was immediately decisive’.

I think that Cox must have had the engine on all the time to make it seem so easy to him, the players did not find this easy to see and we struggled too. The reason is that after 48.f6 Black can let White get a queen with 48…cxd4 49.f7 dxc3 50.f8=Q cxb2 51.Qf1 c3, when the passed pawns are very strong and at first seem to tie White’s queen down.

It turns out that White can win after 52.Qd3+ Ke8 53.e6 c2 54.Qd7+ Kf8 55.Qd8+ Kg7 56.Qxe7+ Kh6 57.Qf8+ Kh7 58.Qf7+ Kh6 59.Qf4+ Kh7 60.Qh2+ Kg8 61.e7 Kf7 62.Qe5 Ke8 63.Qc7. However this only became clear when we looked at the position with an engine and the line is 15 moves deep.

Sam Davies

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Better Pawn Structure

Here’s another rook endgame from Master Rook Endgames by Nikolai Minev. Black is a pawn down in this one but has the advantage because his pawn structure is better. Black’s first move is important because he needs to stop White playing 36.c3.

Sam Davies

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Shielding the King

My Dad and I have been working through Nikolai Minev’s book on rook endgames where we found the following example. Black had a problem in that he needed to shield his king from checks and he achieved that with 61…Re7! followed by bringing his king to e5. He was then able to stop either White pawn from queening and held a draw:

Sam Davies

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Blockading a Passed Pawn

Passed pawns can often be a winning advantage in rook endgames, but not always; if they can be blockaded by a king they can easily become weak. The following game is a good example of this with White’s d-pawn looking strong until Black played 33…Kf8, getting the king in front of it:

Sam Davies

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