23 November 2008

Did Black Resign?

Did he lose on time?

Among the games on the Playchess server today is this one from yesterday:

Arakhamia-Grant,K (2448) -- Abu Sufian,S (2418) [B36]
Chess Olympiad 2008 Dresden (9), 22.11.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0–0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.f3 Nd7 12.0–0 Nc5 13.Rfd1 a5 14.b3 Qb6 15.Rab1 Qb4 16.Bd4 Bxd4+ 17.Qxd4 Qb6 18.Kh1 Nd7 19.Qd2 Qc5 20.f4 f6 21.Nb5 Nb6 22.Nd4 Bd7 23.Rbc1 Rfd8 24.Bf3 Kh8 25.Ne2 Be6 26.Qb2 a4 27.e5 dxe5 28.fxe5 fxe5 29.Bxb7 Rxd1+ 30.Rxd1 Rb8 31.Bf3 axb3 32.axb3 Qe3 33.Qc3 Qxc3 34.Nxc3 Nd7 35.Nb5 Nc5 36.b4 Na6 37.Bd5 Bd7 38.Bf3 Be6 39.Bd5 Bd7 40.Be4 Bxb5 41.cxb5 Rxb5 42.Bd3 Rd5 43.b5 Nc5 44.Be2 Rxd1+ 45.Bxd1 Nd7 46.Kg1 Kg7 47.Kf2 Kf6 48.Ke3 Nb6 49.Bb3 e6 50.Ke4 Nd7 51.Bc2 Ke7 52.h4 Kd6 53.g4 Nf6+ 54.Kf3 Kc5 55.g5 Nd7 56.Bd3 Kd4 57.Be4 Nc5 58.b6 Nd7 59.b7 Kc5 60.Bxg6 hxg6 61.h5 gxh5 62.g6 e4+ 63.Kxe4 1–0

The final position:

Black to move

Black's knight cannot stop both pawns. However, after 63...Kd6, the king can stop one pawn, while the knight stops the other.

Play might continue 64.g7! Nf6+ 65.Kf4 Kc7 66.b8Q+ Kxb8 67.Ke5 Ng8 68.Kxe8

Black to move

68...Nh6 holds. White's promotion threat keeps Black's pawn at bay, while the king alone cannot force the knight away from defense of g8.

Resigning this position would be senseless. A class player might miscalculate, presume that White's pawns are unstoppable, and resign. On the other hand, Shakil Abu Sufian is a FIDE Master and still improving. He would at least examine a sequence of forcing moves.

Did Black lose on Time?

He might have lost on time.

This game was on board four in the Scotland-Bangladesh match, so it was not widely reported in the press. Still, if Black had lost the game on time, the information must be somewhere. I went looking and found a link to Chess Scotland from Susan Polgar's blog. Now I had a site that had every reason to follow closely the games of Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant--a woman playing for Scotland's strongest ever men's Olympiad team. It took less than a minute to locate Geoff Chandler's analysis of the game and a revealing photo: see Chess Edinburgh: Chandler Cornered.

There we learn:
The official game score shows Keti's final move as Kxe4. As Dougie Bryson pointed out this is likely to be another case of the king going to e4 to signal a White win on the DGT boards. Indeed, we can prove that now as we have photographic evidence...
I recall some brief confusion during Game 7 (see "Something Awry with the Robot") of the recent World Chess Championship when the Playchess server had 37.Ke4, leaving Kramnik's rook intack on c3. Someone pointed out then that the players had moved their kings to the center of the board to indicate a draw, but the DGT board recorded the act as an inexplicable move. Human practice and excellent broadcast technology can lead us astray.

The final position is the photo of yesterday's game shows:

Black to move

Here Black is lost. Without the check, the knight cannot stop both pawns and Kd6 is too slow. White's final move was 63.Ke3, not as reported in the game score both on Playchess and at the official site.


  1. Congrats to the lady for a fine win. However Rowson isn't doing so good at first board. Each time i checked he had lost.

  2. November 30 update:
    The game score at the official Dresden website still shows the incorrect 63.Kxe4, but the game score in The Week in Chess 733 has 63.Ke3, the conclusion evident in the photograph.