20 January 2016

Training with Caruana

Lesson of the Week

We know from the broadcast of Giri -- Caruana, Tata Steel Chess 2016 (see my blog post on the same) that Fabiano Caruana could have maintained his winning position with 55...Ra3, instead of 55...Rxh3. His move led to a draw that Anish Giri executed easily. The resulting position may have been something straightforward to most Grandmasters, but it is not an elementary ending for the rest of us.

Black to move

Armed with the knowledge that Black is winning here, I tried playing it agianst Hiarcs on my iPad while my beginning students were solving checkmate in one problems. Naturally, I was only partly focused on the exercise as I needed to guide the students through their occasional difficulties. I was not successful.

This morning, I awoke very early and watched Danny King's "Power Play" YouTube video on yesterday's Tata Steel games. He went through Hou -- Navara from Hou Yifan's rook sacrifice to David Navara's resignation, then he turned his attention to the ending in Giri -- Caruana. After watching the video, I tried again against my iPad and won easily.

Later in the morning, I played the position against Stockfish 7 on my notebook computer and on my desktop. I also played the position against Hiarcs 12 and Rybka 4. Different engines tried different replies for White.

After playing the position against several engines, I searched Nikolay Minev, A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames (2004) for positions that are helpful. One position in this book elucidates a technique that I stumbled upon in my play against the computer.

This position from Minev's text and some of my play against the computer will form the core of the lesson for my advanced students tomorrow afternoon.

In the game scores below, 1...Ra3 takes the place of 55...Ra3 as a variation in Caruana's game yesterday.

Hiarcs on the iPad and on the Desktop followed the same basic defensive idea that GM Danny King highlighted in his video. This game is one of several.

Hiarcs 12 -- Stripes,James
Blitz 10m, 20.01.2016

1...Ra3 2.Ra7 e3 3.Re7 Kf3 4.Kb4 Rd3

This move was the one that I was not finding until I watched King's video. Taking control of the d-file keeps White's king separated from the pawn that will promote while also offering a possible shield of Black's king from rear checks.

4...Ra1 seems as though it should be adequate, but always led me to positions where I found success elusive.

5.Kc4 Rd6 6.Rf7+ Kg2 7.Re7 Kf2 8.Kc3 e2 9.Rf7+ Ke1 10.Rb7

Black to move


With my pawn only one square from promotion, transferring the shield to the f-file allows my king to come out from in front of the pawn.

10...Kd1 11.Rb1# would be embarrassing.

11.Rb1+ Kf2 12.Kd2 Rd6+ 13.Kc2 e1Q 14.Rxe1 Kxe1 

The rest is easy.

15.Kc3 Kf2 16.a5 Kg3 17.Kc4 Kxh3 18.Kb5 Kg3 19.a6 Rxa6 20.Kxa6 h4 21.Ka7 h3 22.Kb6 h2 23.Kc5 h1Q 24.Kb5 Kf4 25.Kc5 Ke5 26.Kc4 Qf3 27.Kb5 Qc3 28.Kb6 Kd6 29.Ka7 Qb4 30.Ka6 Kc7 31.Ka7 Qa5# 0–1

Rybka 4 threw me a curve and a bit of calculation revealed a surprising response, which I played with success.

Rybka 4 x64 -- Stripes,James
Blitz 10m, 20.01.2016

1...Ra3 2.Kb4

Black to move


2...Rd3 seems to fail 3.Kc4 Rd7 4.Rxh5 e3 5.Rh8 Kf3 6.Rf8+ Ke2 7.Re8 Rh7 8.a5 Rxh3 9.a6 Rh7 10.Kd4 Rd7+ 11.Kc5 Kd2 12.Rxe3 Kxe3 13.Kb6 Rd6+ 14.Kb7 Rxa6 15.Kxa6.


3.Ra7 leads to a solution similar to the game above. 3...Rd3 4.Rf7+ Kg3 5.Kc4 Rd6 6.Re7 Kf2-+.

3...e2 4.Rc5

Komodo suggest 4.Rxh5, but Black still wins after 4...e1Q 5.Rb5 Ke4 6.h4 Kd3 7.h5 (7.Rb4 Qa1+ 8.Kb3 Qc3+ 9.Ka2 Qxb4) 7...Qa1+ 8.Kb3 (8.Kb4 Qc3#) 8...Qc3+ 9.Ka2 Kc2 10.Rb8 Qc4+ 11.Ka3 Qc5+ 12.Ka2 Qd5+ 13.Ka3 Qd6+ 14.Rb4 Kc3 and the rook falls.

4...e1Q 5.Rb5 Qa1+ 6.Kb4 h4 7.Rc5 Qb2+ 8.Kc4 Kg3 9.a5 Kxh3 10.Rb5 Qa2+ 11.Kc3 Kg4 12.a6 Qxa6 13.Rb4+ Kg3 14.Rb3 h3 15.Kb2+ Kg2 16.Rc3 

Black to move

16...Qe2+ 17.Rc2 Qxc2+ 18.Kxc2 h2 19.Kc3 h1Q 20.Kc4 Kf3 21.Kd4 Qh5 22.Kc4 Ke3 23.Kb3 Kd3 24.Kb4 Qd5 25.Ka3 Kc3 26.Ka4 Qf5 27.Ka3 Qa5# 0–1

Most of my play against the engines involved the immediate loss of a pawn.

After a couple of failures, I was able to find my way.

Stockfish 7 64 -- Stripes,James
Blitz 25m, 20.01.2016

1...Ra3 2.Rxh5 Rxa4+ 3.Kc3 Ke3

I went for a classic Lucena position.

White to move

4.Rh6 Ke2 5.h4 e3 6.h5 Ra3+ 7.Kc4 

7.Kb4 Ra7 8.Rf6 Ke1 9.h6

7...Ke1 8.Rf6 e2 9.h6 Rh3 10.Ra6 Kd2 11.Rd6+ Kc2 12.Re6 Rh4+ 13.Kb5 Kd2 14.Rd6+ Ke3 15.Re6+ Kd3 16.Rd6+ Kc3 17.Rc6+ Kb3 18.Re6

After stumbling in the blindness, I found a tactical shot. Alas, it leads to an ending of queen versus rook that I find terribly difficult when playing against engines.

Black to move

18...Rh5+ 19.Kc6 Rxh6! 20.Rxh6 e1Q 21.Kd7 Qe5 22.Re6 Qf5 23.Kd6 Kc4 24.Re5 Qf4 25.Ke6 Qh6+ 26.Ke7 Kd4 27.Ra5 Qc6 28.Rh5 Ke4 29.Rh1 Kf5 30.Rf1+ Kg6 31.Rg1+ Kh7 32.Rg5 Qc3

32...Kh6 33.Re5 Kh7 34.Rg5 Qe4+ 35.Kd6

33.Ke6 Kh6 34.Re5 Kg6 35.Kd5 Kf6 36.Re6+ Kf5 37.Rc6 Qd2+ 38.Kc4 Qd7 39.Rc5+ Ke4 40.Kb3 Qe6+ 41.Kc3 Ke3 42.Rc4 Qb6 43.Kc2 Qa6 44.Kb3 Kd3 45.Rc3+ Kd4 46.Rc1 Qb5+ 47.Kc2 Qc5+ 48.Kb1 Qb4+ 49.Ka2 Kd3 50.Rb1 Qa4+ 

50...Qa5+ 51.Kb2 Qb6+ 52.Ka2 Qa7+ 53.Kb2 Qa4 54.Rc1 Kd2 55.Rb1 Qb4+ 56.Ka2 Qa5+ 57.Kb3 Qb6+ 58.Ka2 Qa7+ 59.Kb3 Qb8+ 60.Ka2 Qg8+ 61.Ka3 Qg3+ 62.Ka4 Kc2 63.Rb6

51.Kb2 Qc2+ 52.Ka1 Qc3+ 53.Ka2 Qe5 54.Kb3 Qb5+ 55.Ka2 Qd5+ 56.Kb2 Kd2 

Finally! White is in zugzwang.

White to move

57.Rg1 Qb5+ 58.Ka2 Qa6+ 59.Kb3 Qb6+ 60.Kc4 Qxg1 61.Kd5 Kd3 62.Kd6 Kd4 63.Kc6 Qg7 64.Kd6 Qf7 65.Kc6 Qe7 66.Kb6 Qd7 67.Ka5 Kc5 68.Ka6 Qg7 69.Ka5 Qa1# 0–1

In the next example, I discovered on my own something that I might have learned from a book.

Stockfish 7 64 -- Stripes,James
Blitz 25m, 20.01.2016

1...Ra3 2.Rxh5 Rxa4+ 3.Kc3 Ke3 4.Rh6 Ke2 5.Rh4 Kf2 

5...Ra3+ seems inadequate.

6.Kb3 Rd4 7.Kc3 Rd3+ 8.Kc2 Ke3 

8...Re3 fails.

9.Rh6 Ke2 10.h4 e3 11.h5 Rd5 12.Rh7 Rc5+ 13.Kb2 Rf5 

13...Ke1 throws away the win 14.Re7 e2 15.h6 Rh5 16.h7 Kd1 17.Rd7+ Ke1 18.Re7 Kf1
13...Rd5 also loses all advantage.


Black to move


Minev presents a position from Beliavsky -- Radulov, St. Petersburg 1977 in which he highlights the technique that I stumbled across out of necessity here.

15.Rh8 Kf2 16.h7 Rf7! 17.Rb8 Rxh7 18.Rf8+ Ke1 19.Kc2 e2 

A textbook Lucena, but with Black to move

20.Kb3 Rh5

20...Re7 21.Kc2 Creates a textbook Lucena 21...Rc7+ 22.Kb2 Rc5

21.Kc3 Rc5+ 22.Kd4 Rc2 


23.Ke3 Rc3+ 24.Kd4 Rc6

24...Kd2 25.Rf2 Ra3

25.Kd5 Rc7 26.Rh8 Kd2 27.Rh2 

Black to move

27...Kd1 28.Rh1+ e1Q 29.Rxe1+ Kxe1 30.Kd6 Rc4 31.Kd5 Rh4 32.Kc5 Ke2 33.Kd5 Ke3 34.Kd6 Ke4 35.Kc5 Rh5+ 36.Kd6 Re5 37.Kc6 Kd4 38.Kd6 Ke4 39.Kc6 Rd5 40.Kb6 Ke5 41.Kc6 Ke6 42.Kc7 Rd6 43.Kc8 Rd7 44.Kb8 Kd6 45.Kc8 Kc6 46.Kb8 Kb6 47.Kc8 Rd1 48.Kb8 Rd8# 0–1

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