In Round 1 tonight, I played Life Master Brian Wall. I knew that my best chance was to avoid playing an ending on the increment against him, but that is exactly what happened. I figured that the endgame was “drawn” (meaning +=, right?) Well, it would have been a good time to adjourn the game, or have another time-control, but I was stuck at making a wild stab at what I should be doing.
I knew that the ending was slipping, and that I wasn’t playing it right, but how it ultimately went down I did not see coming. This was one of those endings where, apparently you should be doing nothing maybe (moving around your kings or such)? In any case, I felt I should have kept my king closer to his and not lashed out with my pawns, but it was predicable endgame collapse in acute time-pressure. I had decided to go for activity that I could not calculate rather than trying to play passively. Brian even suggested the idea that I could try to set up a pawn-fortress, which I had not considered.
In the post-mortem, I suggested that playing 44…g5?? instead of 44…Kd7 was the loser, and according to Stockfish, I was right. I felt like it was losing even before I played it, but I felt I needed some kind of active chance instead of playing a possibly unneccesary defensive move. I felt that …g5 was bad, but just couldn’t see that …Kd7 was so right. Another place I might have blundered after that, playing with one under minute on my clock as I was later on in such a line. There is a point where his king will will be on b5, after trading off all but one queenside pawn, as in the game, and the natural move for Black would appear to be to play …e4, but that is completely losing! You have to play …f4 there instead, so that you can trade off the e-pawn for the f-pawn, and then your king is back in time to defend the g and h pawns, and it’s a draw – g/h pawns for both sides.
I was chatting with Pete on Facebook Thursday night, and I told him this is why you need a second time-control because in the endgame, you have to spend time to “find the ideas” in the position, and not just time to calculate. You can be a fast-calculator and spend your time calculating the wrong thing if you don’t find the ideas in a position. Calculating only stock ideas is not enough, you need to find the fresh ideas in your endgames.
There were a couple of Experts who suggested in the post-mortem that 46…a5 instead of 46….axb was winning for Black, as in “Yeah, how could you not see that that this winning?” sort of demeanor, but me and Brian Wall weren’t sold, and he eventually found the way to win. I suggested that instead of looking at it in the game variation, that I would have only considered it (I saw 46…a5??, OTB), had I played 44…Kd7. In that line, it is still a win for White, but it takes a tablebase close to 50 moves to demonstrate the win, and even the engine of Stockfish couldn’t solve it.