06 November 2014

Memorable Games

Lesson of the Week

In Chess Training for Budding Champions (2001), Jesper Hall recommends creating a book or database with one's best games or combinations. In order to train well an aspiring chess player must have fun.
Everyone has his own moments of happiness, moments that must not be forgotten. My first piece of advice to any player is therefore to keep a little book, or as I do today, open a file in the computer, where personal experiences can be saved. (7)
Among my fond memories are three games in which I forced an exchange of pieces to reach a winning pawn ending. I posted a position from one of these memorable games in "Kings and Pawns" (2008). Another instance remains my highest rated tournament win (see "Pawn Wars" [2012]).

This week I have been reexamining a game from the Spokane Chess Club's 2007 Winter Championship. According to the chess engines, I had a clear advantage and several ways to win. I chose the route that simplified via sacrifice into an easily winning pawn ending. When me opponent understood that he was lost, he opted to make it interesting by letting one of my pawns queen in the hope that he, too could promote a pawn. In the final position, I checkmated him with two queens on the same move that he promoted a pawn.

Black to move

37...Bxg2 38.Rxe3 dxe3 39.Kxg2 Rf7 40.Re2

This position has been on the demonstration board several times this week, and I have set it up during individual lessons too.

Black to move

40...Rf2+ 41.Rxf2 exf2 42.Kxf2 a4!

My move, which is best, was difficult for Fritz 9 to find during postgame analysis. The engine required more than ten minutes to choose it as best. Stockfish DD finds this move in less than ten seconds. Engines have improved since 2007.

I do not recall whether I found this pawn sacrifice from the first diagram or the second, but I know that I worked out that my king would easily win the c-pawn after mopping up White's pawns on the a-file. At the same time, a pawn majority on the kingside should keep the White king busy.

This pawn sacrifice is the most important memory from this game, but I also enjoy the final position.

43.bxa4 Kd7 44.Kf3 h5 45.Kg3 Kc7 46.a5 Kb7 47.h4 g4 48.Kf4 Ka6

White to move

Here the game became a comedy of sorts.

49.Kg5 g3 50.Kf6 g2 51.Kxe6 g1Q 52.Kf7 Qg4 53.e6 Qxc4 54.Ke7 Qxh4 55.Kf7 c4 56.e7 Qf4+ 57.Kg7 Qe5+ 58.Kf8 Qf6+ 59.Ke8 c3 60.a4 c2 61.Kd7 Qf7 62.Kd8 c1Q 63.e8Q Qcc7#

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