An unexamined life is not worth living.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Drama in the Rook endgame – Bacrot – Robson

Bacrot – Robson, World Cup 2011, Third Rapid game, replay the game here

image This type of positions is considered to be a theoretical draw because the Black rook is behind the ‘a’ pawn. Black conducted precise defence from this position, using the following plan:

  1. When the White king marches to the queenside to support the ‘a’ pawn, Black wins one of the kingside pawns (most likely – the f2 pawn)
     image Position after 68. Kc5 Rxf2
  2. Black then advances his pawns on the kingside, and creates his own passed pawn
    image After 77. Rb6 g5
  3. Black gives up the rook for the White ‘a’ pawn
    image image (Robson about to give up the rook for the pawn)
    Black plays 80… Rxa7, because White had already threatened with Ra6
  4. White is forced to sacrifice his own rook for the White pawn on the kingside, resulting in a draw
    image Black to Move
    This is where Ray Robson faltered, after playing this long and gruelling endgame, with 10 seconds of increment per move. Black cannot afford for his king to be pushed off to the ‘h’ file, so he must play 87… Kg2! 88. Rg6+ Kf1! with a draw. Instead he quickly played 87… h2?? and after 88. Rg6+ Kh3 89. Kf2!
    image Black to move, White is winning.
    it turned out that Black can’t promote the pawn into a queen because of Rh6+. Instead Robson promoted the pawn into the knight, and after 89… h1N+ 90. Kf3 Kh2 Rg6 Black resigned due to zugzwang. At the press conference after the game Robson pointed out exactly where he went wrong, so it would be wrong to accuse the GM of not being familiar with basic rook and pawn endings. But this shows how putting pressure and playing to the end pays off in these time controls with only 10 seconds per move. Mark Dvoretsky refers to such incidents as tragecomedies, but if you ever watched Bacrot and Robson battle it out, the word comedy would be far down on the list of terms to describe it!

image Game is over, Robson still seems in disbelief about what just happened.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kamsky’s Rook Endgame – Zugzwang

Gata Kamsky is famous for his excellent endgame technique, and he demonstrated it to win the first game of his match against the young Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi:

Kamsky – Nepomniachtchi, 2011 World Cup

image White to move
Black is down a pawn, but he appears to maintain some sort of equilibrium because he defends both kingside pawns with the king, and the rook attacks the pawn on g2, making it more difficult for White to advance the king. But it turns out that because the position of the Black rook is passive - White wins rather easily.

40. Kg3 Zugzwang! Either Black king or his rook have to move. Kg7 This abandons the e6 square, so White can attack e5 pawn from the 6th rank.
(Moving the rook does not help either 40... Ra1 (no longer attacking g2) 41. Kg4! a2 42. Kg5 Ke7 43. Ra7+ Ke6 44. Kxg6 Rg1 45. Rxa2 +-)
41. Re6! Re2 42. Rxe5 a2 43. Ra5

Up two pawns, White wins easily:
43… Kf6 44. f4 Rxe4 45. Rxa2 Kg7 46. Kg4 Rb4 47. Ra5 1-0
image Black Resigned

After some move by Black, White can play h5 (if gxh5, then Rxh5), and with two connected pawns, the win is trivial:
For example 47… Kf6  48. h5 gxh5+ 49. Rxh5

image This is a win according to tablebase:

Replay the game here:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Play Like Grischuk – Chess World Cup Fragments

Grischuk – Genba, 2011
image White to Move. Does White’s attack succeed after 21. Bf6 gxf6 22. exf6 Rg8?

In the end of the above variation Black is able to cover up g7 with the rook – but is that sufficient?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fritz 13 Let’s Check Feature

Fritz 13 is adding a new feature that is called “Let’s check”. The feature allows to share engine analysis with other users and upload it to the “cloud”. Such analysis would be easy to look at in one of the Fritz panels:


The benefits of this kind of feature seem very exciting:

  • it will allow fast access to all previously made engine analysis
  • reduce the need to redundantly run engine on positions that someone else has analysed
  • encourage sharing between chess players on an unprecedented scale
  • it actually has a UI that is easy to understand. Convekta’s IDea still seems very complicated to me when I read explanations of how it works

The Video tutorials are brief and to the point:

But the scary aspects of the feature seem a lot more obvious:

  • spying on each other – sounds like the option is on by default!
  • in perspective, this takes us much closer to chess being completely solved
  • ChessBase may control data contributed by many chess players, many engines and so on. While games are now being shared in databases produced by more than one vendor, ChessBase having billions of extra positions stored in their private databases will give them a monopoly over most of chess data, data contributed by their own users, who would now have to pay yearly membership fees to access that data.
  • focus is on engine analysis, although I think this kind of system should have put emphasis on people’s verbal commentaries (Comments Network feature does seem to go in that direction though, although why not instead use existing GM comments that are spread out through their MegaBase already?)

Yes, this is just a tool to help players with what they do – use best engines to solve mysteries of various chess positions. Some would argue that this is inevitable anyway, but I find this tool more disturbing than anything else.

The biggest question I have though – for how long are they going to have enough storage space to maintain trillions of possible chess positions??

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