26 January 2012

Pawn Endings in Wijk aan Zee

There has been an abundance of fighting chess in the currently running Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Several games have been played down to lone kings. Another ended with a pawn's underpromotion to a bishop, the immediate capture of the doomed piece, and a draw by insufficient material. Several games have finished as pawn endgames. Some of these serve as illustrations of the value of mastering that element of the game. In some of these games a flurry of exchanges led to a position that was basic, and that a C-player should be able to handle, but others are more complex.

Employing the endgame keys in ChessBase 11, these two pawn endings from the A Group show up from the early rounds.

Carlsen -- Giri, Round 5
Black to move

It is an elementary draw for Giri that even relative beginners should be able to find.

Navara -- Karjakin, Round 4
Black to move

Karjakin's compact queenside pawns are stronger than Navara's scattered pawns, but the king must fight effectively to secure the win. Moreover, if both sides promote pawns, one must understand the queen and pawn ending too.

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