30 September 2016

Learning Old Ideas Anew

Games played by others are a source for ideas in one's own games. That is why many chess players go through hundreds of games month after month. With enough source material, some ideas should prove useful. Sometimes new games offer reinforcing lessons on old ideas.

This position was reached in Padeiro -- Rico, Lisbon 2015. The game was played in the Portuguese Championship. I found the game through a search of my database for positions with Black hanging pawns on c5 and d5. This search was inspired by a video on Chess.com: Ivan Sokolov, "Karjakin's Winning Strategy: Openings Approach." Karjakin had five games with this pawn structure in the Candidates Tournament, four as Black, and had a +1 score through these five games. Sokolov showed the opening and middlegame phase of Karjakin -- Nakamura.

White to move

Padeiro,Jose Joao Tato (2293) -- Rego,Pedro Filipe (2223) [E14]
POR-ch Lisbon (3), 14.09.2015

Black's hanging pawns on c5 and d5 drew me to this game.


White temporarily goes ahead a pawn, but Black's little combination restores the material balance.

31...Qh3+ 32.Kxh3 Nxf2+ 33.Kg2 Nxd3 34.Rc7

The position appears equal and material remains balanced. Both players have an isolated central pawn. Bothy have a majority on one side of the board.


34...Re8 leads to a draw, according to Stockfish 7 35.Rxa7 Rxe3 36.Nd4 Re4 37.Nf5 Re5

35.Nd4 Re8

White was threatening to win a pawn with 35...Ne5 36.Rxg7+ Kxg7 37.Ne6+ Kf7 38.Nxd8+ Ke7 39.Nb7

36.Nf5 Re5 37.g4

37.Nxg7 Rxe3 38.Nh5 Re6 39.Rd7 might be better.

37...g6 38.Nh6+

How far did White calculate?

Black to move

38...Kf8 39.Kf3

I might be inclined to try something like 39.Rf7+ Ke8 40.Rxh7 Rxe3 41.Ra7

39...Re7 40.Rc3 Ne5+ 41.Kf4 Kg7

The knight appears trapped.

42.g5 fxg5+ 43.Kxg5 Nf3+

Black gets all White's kingside pawns.

44.Kf4 Nxh2 45.Kg3 Nf1+ 46.Kf2 Nxe3 47.Rxe3

Black to move


It seems simple enough to trade into a 5-2 pawn ending, but White's queenside pawns are powerful. Indeed, they are decisive because the Black king is too far from them. Black's only chance was to leave the rook on the board and let the knight escape.

47...Rc7 was necessary, when after 48.Ng4, White's slight material advantage might be insufficient for the win.

The power of an outside passed pawn, or a majority that can create one, is a lesson that most players learn early in their chess development.

48.Kxe3 Kxh6

48...a5 49.a4 Kxh6 50.b4 axb4 51.a5+-
48...Kf6 49.Kd4 Ke6 50.b4 Kd6 51.a4 Ke6 52.Nf7 Kxf7 53.b5 axb5 (53...Ke7 54.bxa6) 54.a5+-


49.a4 is also winning.

49...Kg5 50.a4 h5 51.b5 axb5 52.axb5 h4 53.b6 d4+ 54.Kf3 d3 55.b7 1–0

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