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.

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