An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Endgame with opposite colour bishops

Change He Li – Howard Wu, Keres Memorial 2009

image Black to move. Can he win this endgame?

I enjoy poking at random endgame positions and try to understand if they are winning or not. While looking at this endgame for a few seconds during my own game - I wondered if Black can win this position. It seemed that because he can get two connected passed pawns on the kingside - his chances should be very high. The correct plan should have started with a move like f6, followed by g5:

In analysis, I can’t see how White can prevent a position like this, so this confirms my quick evaluation:

image (Analysis position) After 50… g3+ , the pawn structure favours Black

The key is, of course, to advance pawns on dark squares, to prevent a typical blockade. Notice how White’s disconnected pawns on the queenside are blocked and useless. The game, however, went quite differently: Black played f7-f5, so White was able to advance h4-h5, and effectively separate Black’s pawns (a draw was soon agreed):

image (Game continuation) After 42. h5 – this pawn structure allows White to make a draw.

If you can see a way for White to make a draw in the initial position with best play from both sides - please leave your comments! Here is some more extensive analysis in the viewer:

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