02 January 2015

The Training Standard

Ziyatdinov's 300 Positions

...you must know these positions cold. You must recognize them immediately, just as you would any letter of the alphabet. Specifically, you must recognize the position, know the correct plans for each side, and know the expected outcome, whichever side is to move. You must also know how the plans or the outcome are affected by small changes in the placement of the pieces. You must know this without having to consider any of the possible variations.
Rashid Ziyatdinov, GM-RAM (12)
This elementary ending should be easy. It is one in my collection of pawn endgame flash cards, and hence I have used it in training exercises with young students. I must admit, however, that I do not look at this position and instantly know that White's forward pawn must be sacrificed. Rather, I get there through calculation or from trail and error.

My first impulse is to try to outflank the Black king. Yesterday, things were a little better. I knew that I needed to sacrifice this pawn, that my c-pawn would become the queen. Nonetheless, in my first effort against the computer, I delayed the sacrifice for several moves.

GM-RAM Diagram 15
Knowledge of this position, as Ziyatdinov describes it, might require instant recognition of two other positions that are inherent in this one.

The first position is a draw no matter who is on move.

The second is a draw if Black is on move, but a win if White moves first.

Once I noticed the presence of these simpler diagrams, it became easier to open Ziyatdinov's position in Fritz and play against the computer making perfect moves in less than one minute of time off the clock.

Play to checkmate required nineteen moves. The computer's analysis function revealed that it is a checkmate in nineteen moves. Playing the ending perfectly is evidence of comprehension.

Stripes,James -- Rybka 4 x64
Blitz 10m Spokane, 01.01.2015

1.Kf5 Kd8 2.d7! Kxd7 3.Kf6 The only winning move 3...Kc8 4.Ke7 Kc7 5.Ke6 Kb8 6.Kd6 Kb7 7.Kd7 Ka6 8.Kxc6 Ka5 9.Kd6! Kb5 10.c6 Kc4 11.c7 Kd3 12.c8Q Kd2 13.Qh3 Ke2 14.Kd5 Kd2 15.Kd4 Kc2 16.Qc3+! I teach young players: "no check unless it is checkmate." Learning correct technique is facilitated by this practice. Later they can learn that sometimes a check is the best move. 16...Kb1 17.Qd2 Ka1 18.Kc3 Kb1 19.Qb2# 1–0

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