Endgame Expert

Round 1

With a winning position in time-pressure, I regretfully decided to exchange queens in order to better keep track of the game. I could have kept queens on and gained a tempo, but my decision was also based on not wanting to give him three connected passed pawns, plus the line 36…Rxa??, 37.Rxc. It never occured to me that Paul A. would play 36…Ra6!, leaving my a2 as a future target, and then consolidating his position with a king march. The difference in those two moves was three whole points! That is like dropping a piece, if Black were to trade pawns there.

I sacked the bishop because I figured I would be up the exchange in equal pawn territory, but this was the equivalent of a business-plan written on a cocktail napkin. This plan was thrown together in time-pressure and I could see it wasn’t going to work out due to the undefendable h4 pawn with check, but went with it because it offered chances, or so I thought.

I blundered with Kg2??, sensing that I needed to make some kind of aggressive move here – Kg1 is 0.0. Last but not least I never appreciated the weakness of my pawn position like Paul did. I even missed a stalemate swindling change by giving up my rook with 49.Rxa Rh3+ 50.Kf4 RxR?? stalemate.

Obviously, I should have kept queens on and avoided an endgame. This would have kept a lot more flexibility, a very “human” pressure on Black’s position, a much more likely shorter game in moves. Add to the list avoiding my opponent’s strength, and also the fact that since it’s not an endgame, the fact that there are three connected passed pawns may not matter as they may just as well offer “holes” in the opponent’s position as well as objects of attack, sacrifice, plus obstacles for opponent maneuvering. You’ll never hear all of this from an engine though, just from the “school of hard-knocks.”

Oh, yeah, I wasn’t going to play but am glad that I changed my mind at the last second. Hard to believe this game was played after exactly three hours of sleep last night, and a nine hour workday, at a G/90 time-control. At least my games have been getting more interesting. 😉


7 thoughts on “Endgame Expert

  1. It is strange how he missed f6.
    As my experience shows these giving back sacrifices are almost never right.
    It kind of looked sad seeing how you gained a big advantage and then it was slipping away.
    I had a very bad game today. Before the game I had 3 out of 3 the same as this guy, rated a bit less than 1600. I had something holding me up and was nervous that I will be late for the game. When I came, it was actually only 1:28 on my clock.
    Nevertheless I started to play fast and when I said to myself, that I have to slow down, just that last automatic exchange was the most horrible blunder in my life.
    In Sicilian, he had a rook on c8 and after c5xd4 I played c3xd4 and noticed right away that because of my queen being on e2 my bishop on c1 is unprotected, moreover after Rxc1+ I loose another rook after check. I shook his hand, left my scoresheet on the table and left.
    After such a game you don’t want ever to play chess.

  2. “As my experience shows these giving back sacrifices are almost never right.”

    RollingPawns, thanks!! I’m serious, I really needed someone else to take a look at how I lost this, what I should have done. I still haven’t gone over this loss from a win, but it’s clear that I under-estimated the power of his knight, and that it was worth a rook, and that my pawn-structure was abysmal. These were things I did not appreciate during the game. I needed to have half an hour from move 30 for this endgame, I’m trying to play 30/60, G/30 for the last couple games, but I failed on this one – it’s harder to do against a higher-rated player.

    You should replay the moves to that game from memory and post the pgn here, or you can use this link to paste your pgn game-score into:

    I’ve noticed that the hardest tactics to see are line-clearing sacrifices. I know this because other’s commenting on a game will generally “Ew! and Ah!” when they see a sac that opens a line which exposes a pin. A square-clearing sac is the same idea, and also just surprising, even though it is only a one-mover.

    One benefit of some chess-study on the day of a game, going over a classic game or some tactics, is that it really removes this rust, which can probably be worth one or two hundred rating points. This is especially true when playing a tactical opening such as the Sicilian where such sacs really built into the point of playing the Open Sicilian, but are difficult for us class-players to spot.

    “After such a game you don’t want ever to play chess.”

    I know this feeling the more I’ve played games at G/90 or quicker – it’s not much of a “real” time control because you still have play the board, not the man.

    Actually, my biggest weakness will maybe surprise you, it’s that it takes me a lot of clock-time just to see the obvious stuff of how the board is held together at that moment. Probably this affects most players because they don’t “see” obvious things when looking at other people’s games. They will kibitz and then say repeatedly “Oh, I didn’t notice that this was protecting that.” and I am just like anyone else making that comment quite a bit when looking at other people’s games. It’s as if you were suddenly looking at someone else’s game while in reality looking at yours.

    I was looking at the combination on the last page of this month’s Chess Life magazine that I got yesterday when I didn’t see the combination, not because I couldn’t easily get the combo, but because I thought two rooks were on the same file rather than one file apart. This sounds like what you did, not even thinking that your queen was on e2 rather than on d2 where it could protect c1. This is a big reason we need to spend the time on the position. Once we see the board correctly, we can calculate much more quickly. When one can see a position blindfold, see it that well, and not just in the memorizing a position sort of way, these tactical misques will virtually never happen.

    When I lost to Isaac the week before last, I was so tired that I was having trouble “seeing” the board. I was aware of this at the beginning of the game, so played stock opening and tried not to look at the board too much and play it from my mind-eye a little more than usual. Once the coffee kicked in and I felt a little better – key word is “felt” because it was just a feeling, my system was still tired, so that I was over-looking the obvious one-move replies that he had at his disposal because I was banking on “What I see must be”, and wasn’t seeing well because fatigued. It’s almost necessary to play chess blindfold at these times, where one can “see” the possibilities clearly. You were rushed and your “eyes” betrayed you.

    The amazing thing about seeing a position blindfold is that if you try to visualize the position it can seem impossible, but if you look at the position with your conscience, the board suddenly appears out of nowhere.

    I’ve studied the endgame now. The key is to see that the side with the knight and lesser material can be zugzwanged. There are key combo’s to remember, but these are necessary to see from the point of view that Black is the one running out of moves in all lines, not White.

  3. Here is a 76 move! plausible contintinuation to how the game could have ended with best play. It’s important to notice that Black does not have a saving waiting strategy. For example, if 59.Kd7, 60.Rd3 Ne6?? (this appeared to be the waiting strategy during the game, but doesn’t work with Bf1 because of the following combo) 61.Rxd5! cxd, 62.Bxb5+ followed by 63.BxRa3.


    And if the rook leaves a3, then that also becomes big concession because the Nd4 is no longer supported, and even the Bxd5 sac I had in mind during the game now works because Black is on it’s heels.

  4. I enjoyed replaying your game. You thoroughly outplayed the guy! Shame about the result. Such games used to really bother me until I played a few games in which I was the swindler rather than the swindled.

  5. I will post here my last normal game:
    [Event “rated match”]
    [Site “”]
    [Date “2013.03.04”]
    [Round “3”]
    [White “Ulli Diemer”]
    [Black “Me”]
    [Result “0-1”]
    [ECO “C84”]
    [WhiteElo “1645”]
    [BlackElo “1713”]
    [Annotator “Fritz 11”]
    [PlyCount “134”]
    [EventDate “2013.03.04”]

    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. a3
    d6 9. Be3 Bg4 10. h3 Be6 11. Nbd2 Na5 12. Ng5 Nxb3 13. Nxe6 fxe6 14. cxb3 c5
    15. Nf3 Qd7 16. Bg5 h6 17. Bh4 Nh7 18. Bxe7 Qxe7 19. Rc1 a5 20. Qd2 b4 21. a4
    Rxf3 22. gxf3 Ng5 23. Kg2 Rf8 24. Rh1 Nxf3 25. Qe3 Nd4 26. Rcg1 Qf6 27. Kf1
    Nxb3 28. Rg3 Qf4 29. Rhg1 Qxe3 30. Rxe3 Kh7 31. Reg3 Rf7 32. Rg6 Nd4 33. R1g2
    Re7 34. R6g3 Rf7 35. Rg6 Re7 36. R6g3 Nc6 37. Ke2 Nd4+ 38. Ke3 d5 39. Rg4 Rc7
    40. f4 exf4+ 41. Rxf4 b3 42. Rf8 Nc2+ 43. Kf4 c4 44. exd5 exd5 45. dxc4 dxc4
    46. Rb8 Nb4 47. Ke4 Re7+ 48. Kf3 Nd3 49. Rd2 g5 50. Rd8 Nc5 51. Rc8 Nd3 52. Rd8
    Ne5+ 53. Kg3 Nd3 54. R2xd3 cxd3 55. Rxd3 Re4 56. Rxb3 Rxa4 57. Rb6 Rb4 58. Rxb4
    axb4 59. Kf3 h5 60. Ke4 Kg6 61. Ke5 g4 62. hxg4 hxg4 63. Kf4 Kh5 64. Kg3 Kg5
    65. b3 Kf5 66. Kf2 Kf4 67. Kg2 Ke3 0-1

  6. Thanks, Skriabin, I’m glad you enjoyed the game! 🙂 You are right, swindles do seem to be a staple of chess games which do not contain a second time-control.

  7. RollingPawns, very creative win, nice speculative sac. I don’t know if it wins, but it showed White defending poorly and so did it’s job. I would have tried 24. f4 pawn sac and then 25.f3 to defend – dunno if that works, but looks better than the game continuation for him. After that it was curtains and you did a wonderful job of bringing home the point. Your play is improving as well! Much more daring and creative than it used to be. 🙂

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