Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I fail to win a knight ending

Chandran,Kapil 19??- Vicary, Elizabeth 2100
Marshall rd 2, 20.05.2009
1.e4 c6
I just switched to the Caro Kann, starting, I guess, with this game, and I was relatively happy to be trying it out against a kid rated 100 points lower than me. I know it a little already because many of my students play it.

2.d4 d5
3.exd5 cxd5
4.c4 Nf6
5.Nc3 e6 I'm actually intending to play the endgame with 5...Nc6, but I haven't gotten to look at that properly yet, and I figured I knew more about the main 5... e6 line.
6.Bg5 Be7
7.Nf3 0–0
8.c5
I had some idea that c5 is supposed to be good only when black has put the knight on c6 already, reason being that after white inevitably plays b4 in response to ...b6, (s)he will be threatening a quick b5, which will hit the knight, and then c6, and it gets nasty. But ok, nothing is obviously wrong with c5 here, except it gives up pressure on my center.
8...b6
9.b4 a5 I wasn't sure about this. I could open the b file and leave the a file closed. Who wants what? I will have to ask Dave.
10.a3 axb4 I did think about playing Ne4 at several points around here. I wasn't sure if changing the pawn straucture was really in my favor-- d4 is exposed but maybe my new e4 pawn is weak and will I have to play f5? Here's a rybka line: 10...Ne4 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Ne5 axb4 14.axb4 Rxa1 15.Qxa1 bxc5


now 16.dxc5 loses a pawn to 16...Qf6 17.Qb2 Nc6 18.Nc4 Qxb2 19.Nxb2 Nxb4, but 16. bxc5 is possible. I don't know, do I like that? Readers: thoughts?
11.axb4 Rxa1
12.Qxa1 bxc5
13.bxc5 Nc6
14.Bb5
Does my bishop belong on d7 or b7? I couldn't decide

14....Qc7 So I moved my queen
15.0–0 Bb7
16.Rb1 Ra8
17.Qb2

17...Ba6
It's my bad bishop? I should trade it?
18.Bxa6 Rxa6
19.Ra1 Qa7
20.Rxa6 Qxa6
21.h3 h6
22.Bf4

22...Nd7
I figured I would start attacking his weaknesses: B-->f6, maybe I break things open with ...e5?
23.Nb5 Qb7 [23...e5! 24.Nxe5 Ndxe5 25.Bxe5 Nxe5 26.dxe5 Bxc5 27.Nd4 Qd3]
24.Qe2 Bf6
25.Kh2 Qa6 You know why I played this? I had a strong sense he might blunder as he did.

what's the worst way out of the pin?
26.Qb2?? Nxc5
27.Qb1 Ne4
28.Kg1 Qa4
29.Be5 Bxe5
30.dxe5 Qb4
31.Qxb4 Nxb4
32.Nfd4 Kf8 [32...Nd3 33.f3 Nec5 34.Nc6 Nd7]
33.f3 Nc5
34.g3 Ke7
35.Kg2  

1/2-1/2

So I'm under 5 minutes here and I failed to win this (many more moves were played, of course). Pretty awful. What's funny was after the game, the kid (who has shown remarkably good board manners all game, really exquisite, hardly fidgeting at all, only offering two draws down material and adjusting his pieces once on my time in time pressure, which for a kid is really great and I almost said something nice to his mother) says to me "I think the knight endgame is already a draw."

I was stunned by this comment. What kind of nonsense is this? A knight endgame up a passed protected d pawn is not winning? How can he think that and be over 1000? I replied "No, it's winning," which came out sounding pretty arrogant, obviously if I'm going to talk I should be able to demonstrate it, and I did want to be nice to the kid, but really. The kid looked uncomfortable and said "I will check it with fritz."

I need to play more blitz.

35 comments:

Tom Chivers said...

I think it's reasonable for an inexperienced player to think the position in the last diagram drawn, on the basis that 'if we exchange down I might end up K v K+N which is a draw'.

es_trick said...

It might take Capablanca level technique to be able to squeeze out the full point.

But what do I know? I played that kid a few months ago in a full time control game, 40/2, G60. I think he spent less than 15 minutes at the board, and still beat me handily.

Since I've been watching him at tournaments for a couple of years now, and knew that he's consistently been in the top 5 for his age group, I probably lost the game as soon as I saw the pairing, before we sat down to play.

Anonymous said...

if you can't convert your advantage, it's a draw;

so, against you it's a draw; against Fischer it's lost.

anyway as even 2 knights up is only a draw, white has very good drawing chances in any case...

Question: who is the worse player: the one who blunders away a pawn or the opponent that cannot convert that advantage?

No reason for a penis contest, especially if you are a woman.

Ashish said...

"A knight ending is a pawn ending," right? A pawn ending up a protected passed pawn should not be a draw, unless the stronger side gets very unlucky with the opposition, which won't be the case here.

I'm not saying it's easy to convert in time trouble.

Greg Shahade said...

He's going to be at the US Chess School in NY.

Anonymous said...

It's possible this is a theoretical win, but it isn't easy...and it's impossible to play it sensibly with 5 minutes on your clock. This is the type of ending you can't head for with the new time controls as opposed to the traditional time controls of the past when you had lots of time to play endings!

Mind you, I'm just an IM, so you may want to check with someone stronger ;-)

Greg Shahade said...

doesn't f6 right away look pretty good? if f4 then take it and start attacking the e5 pawn, and if he takes on f6 we take with a pawn and now have a lot easier play.

Greg Shahade said...

ok probably after ...f6 he should play ef6 gf6 f4

Anonymous said...

yeah, greg, i'm sure f6 is the right plan (maybe want to move the knights and king around to optimal positions first), and as i say probably theoretically winning but man, 4 knights jumping around, 4 pawns versus 3 on the same side of the board. ...how do you play it sensibly with 5 minutes on your clock?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

huh? how much do you need to be up to win an endgame, a rook?

I never said this was easy, but implying it is theoretically drawn is ridiculous. I'm pretty sure with 15 minutes I would win it 80% of the time.

If you are an IM and you think otherwise, then sign your name.

Anonymous said...

Boy, touchy, touchy, Elizabeth! My only point (and it was in your defense) is that with 5 minutes left, anyone would have a tough time winning this position. If you had 2 hours, then yes, you'd win the majority of the time against equal opposition, but honestly, it isn't easy. For example if you had 2 hours, could you beat Kamsky in this position? There are some definite resources and it isn't a trivial win, that's for sure...

Elizabeth Vicary said...

don't say 'touchy touchy' when you are too chickenshit to use your own name. asshole.

Anonymous said...

good job, Elizabeth, that guy sounds like a real jerkoff! How dare he question you!

Anonymous said...

I'm an IM too, I've beaten many GM's, like Yermo, Ibragimov, and many more, some of them quite thoroughly, and I say this endgame is utterly, totally, and *trivially* winning.

Unless--- if White can sac his b5 knight for the h-pawn, and his other knight for one of the central pawns (depending on Black's approach, more on this in a later post), then maybe White could reach KNN vs KP, and if Black is sloppy, the pawn might be too far advanced. But you said your opponent was fidgeting a little, so I conclude this would have been vanishingly improbable.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I said he was fidgeting *very little.* People really need to read my posts more carefully.

Ed Scimia said...

Kapil is a tough little guy! I've never had the chance to play him, but I've seen him around tournaments in CT for a couple years now.

Anyway, as a slightly weaker player chiming in on the endgame, I'd have to say that my first instinct would be to assume Black is winning, but as White I'd certainly be looking for ways to swindle into a K v. KNN draw.

Anonymous said...

try this then, you easily winning people!...put the position on your favorite engine (fritz/Rybka), put five minutes on the clock for each player, try to win...

It's almost impossible with five minutes....

Anonymous said...

I once played a kid who said "good game" after a draw. I was stunned. I obviously blundered in a superior position, and wasn't about to let that snot-nosed punk disrespect me like that. "Good game? Snort." He gave me a funny look, but I think he was just ashamed at being told what's up.

Anonymous said...

Can't black just bring the king to d3? I'm IM also btw.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:36

Kids are instructed to say "good game" by many scholastic coaches. I doubt the kid intended to disrespect you.

ATH2044 said...

There are several interesting positions & moves in this game, but since the discussion seems to be focusing on the knight ending spawned from the last diagrammed position, I'll try to stick to that.
Here's a few questions:
What was the final position?
Who offered the draw in the final position?
How much time was left on each clock in the final position?
(To paraphrase anon...)
Who (nothing personal) is the worse player: the one who blunders away a pawn or the opponent who uses so much time that they have to settle for a draw in time pressure?

In the diagrammed position, my initial thought was along the lines of Greg's f6... idea. That doesn't make me an IM, but that's probably how I'd play as black with 5 minutes left.
It would be great for black to just trade the knights & win the pure pawn ending, but white need not allow that without a significant fight & that kind of a fight takes time. It seems that if simply having an extra pawn isn't enough to get your opponent to resign, you might actually have to play chess.
One basic problem with all this is that each pawn traded increases the likelihood of some kind of knight(s) sac leading directly to a draw.

Now some quotes:
"I never said this was easy, but implying it is theoretically drawn is ridiculous." -EV
OK, you never actually used the word "easy", but your language surrounding that topic seems more than a tad strident.
"I was stunned by this comment ('I think the knight endgame is already a draw.') What kind of nonsense is this? A knight endgame up a passed protected d pawn is not winning? How can he think that and be over 1000?"
I don't know, maybe he studied the position (on his time).

"how much do you need to be up to win an endgame, a rook?"
I guess that depends on how much time you have.

"If you are an IM and you think otherwise, then sign your name."
With Fritz & Rybka looking at this, the only thing you'd need an IM for would be to actually play it.
Topalov -Karpov 2000 is an example of how easy it is to screw it up.

"don't say 'touchy touchy' when you are too chickenshit to use your own name. asshole."
I think there's a bit of "Lizzilla" in that one, but you may not be aware that it's actually easier/quicker to log in as anonymous than to use a name, so there's not much incentive other than avoiding your wrath.
(FWIW to Anon: I wouldn't get too concerned, Lizzy has referred to herself as an asshole before too, so maybe it just means she feels a kinship with you. )

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Look, the kid offers me two draws in this ending. I don't think that's appropriate for a few reasons:
1. you shouldn't offer multiple draws
2. I'm higher rated
3. I'm up a pawn and obviously trying to win (not moving back and forth)

But whatever, he's a kid-- kids don't know better.

Then at the end of the game, the first thing he says is that the endgame was theoretically drawn from the beginning? That seems like incorrect behavior to me.

As I mentioned, otherwise, he seemed like a very nice, well-mannered kid.

It does not mean anything to say that most people would not win this ending with five minutes against rybka. Most people would lose *any endgame* with five minutes against rybka.

It is also absurd to say "you might have to actually play some chess." that's what I was doing.

Finally, are you really claiming people don't post under their own names here because they are *too busy* to type their own names??? Because they have *so little* free time??

Anonymous said...

Here's my 2 cents:
A lower rated kid blunders away a pawn against you and you are not able to turn that into a win.
So you are not happy with YOURSELF and so you start blaming it on the remaining insufficient time (for which again only YOU are responsible) and also mention some completely irrelevant facts like two draw offers or your slightly higher rating.

Not the best display of sportsmanship IMO.

PS.
You complain that your opponent offered you "multiple draws". That's not true either:
You may have 'multiple' orgasms but you can have only ONE draw per game. (Your opponent may have offered that two times, but that doesn't make it 'multiple'.

Anonymous said...

"PS.
You complain that your opponent offered you "multiple draws". That's not true either:
You may have 'multiple' orgasms but you can have only ONE draw per game. (Your opponent may have offered that two times, but that doesn't make it 'multiple'."

It's unlikely you are smart enough to operate a computer, yet too stupid to realize that she meant multiple draw offers. So which is it - did someone help you find this website, or are you just being a pedantic turd?

ATH2044 said...

"Look, the kid offers me two draws in this ending. I don't think that's appropriate for a few reasons:
1. you shouldn't offer multiple draws"
That may be YOUR rule, but the official rules allow for two draw offers.
The third draw offer from the same person without one from the opponent triggers a warning from the TD.

"2. I'm higher rated"
BFD.

"3. I'm up a pawn and obviously trying to win (not moving back and forth)"
OK, so that might have negated HIS claim of insufficient losing chances had he made it which he didn't.

"But whatever, he's a kid-- kids don't know better."
Some do; some don't. Some adults don't know better either.

"Then at the end of the game, the first thing he says is that the endgame was theoretically drawn from the beginning? That seems like incorrect behavior to me."
I disagree that it's incorrect behavior. However, that's what post mortems are for. If you really believe that you were EASILY winning, then you might reasonably expect that he'd (1923) see that as well, but if he really felt it was drawn, then he should have been able to show that after the game. OTOH, you should have been able to demonstrate the win... easily.

"As I mentioned, otherwise, he seemed like a very nice, well-mannered kid."
Therefore, it's a bit presumptuous to call him out on behavioral grounds without definitive evidence.

"It does not mean anything to say that most people would not win this ending with five minutes against rybka. Most people would lose *any endgame* with five minutes against rybka."
I agree that this is borderline laughable. So is your rant: "What kind of nonsense is this? A knight endgame up a passed protected d pawn is not winning? How can he think that and be over 1000?".
There is an official standard that involves a Class C player drawing against a Master (Yes I know, it doesn't apply specifically here, it's the Insufficient Losing Chances criterion. It's an illustration of where reasonable guidelines might be). The (moot) question would be: Does black have such a clear advantage that a Class C player could win this against a Master, with a normal time control? (I think not.)
The more important question of whether a 1923 player could hold the draw (as white) against a 2100 player in the remaining time was answered in the game.

"It is also absurd to say "you might have to actually play some chess." that's what I was doing."
Then you clearly didn't pick up on the metaphor. By "...play some chess", I meant that there are often times when practical chances at the board are more important than (unsubstantiated) theoretical claims. It's nice to "know you're winning" but if you can't find the win during the game then how clear was your "winning" position.

"Finally, are you really claiming people don't post under their own names here because they are *too busy* to type their own names??? Because they have *so little* free time??"
Absolutely not! I'm STATING that it's easier/quicker to post as anon due to the BlogSpot interface. Hence SOME people
probably do so for that reason (convenience, not time). I readily agree that there are also anon posters who do so for chickenshit reasons.

Anonymous said...

"It's unlikely you are smart enough..."

Obviously the author of this line was HIMSELF NOT SMART ENOUGH to identify an obvious joke...

Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of aggro out there. Maybe over the long weekend, everyone can chill out and let that aggro vent away. It seems that getting really worked up over something that isn't life altering not worth the energy.

Two thoughts:
1. I do agree that the one post makes an insightful point that EV felt she had a better position and a winnable position and that she is a bit frustrated that at the end she gave up a draw. The kid may truly believe that it is a holdable position, so unless he is a well known smart aleck then give him a pass on his comment on theory. But it shows that one good point, EV really hates to lose or give up draws in "winnable" position - a trait shared by many strong players.

2. With computers and programs, does this need to be argued at all? There seems to be two competing ideas. Black needs to get rid of the white knights and make a straight K&+1 P ending to win. White needs to figure out a way to keep a least one knight so that it can be sacked for the last black pawn. Load the position into a computer and let it run all weekend and enjoy the sun and relax.

I am signing in as anonymous because I'm shy and scared of Lizzilla.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

before we write this whole exchange off as overly confrontational, let's recognize that there are some monumentally funny comments here.

anjiaoshi said...

May I point out that some people (such as yours truly) learn by venturing statements of uncertain validity, then seeing whether others agree with or correct them? Maybe this kid is one of us.

In the spirit of goodwill, may you all go forth and enjoy multiple orgasms.

soissons said...

Finally, something more interesting than work!! First, I love little kids, really. Except when they beat me at chess and then explain in erudite fashion why. I would prefer if they would just say, "Hey, my young brain, uncorrupted like yours from years of partying, is just faster and quicker, and we all know that in games other than between GMs tactics triumph over strategy." I once drew with an eight year old. After the game, I said, "wow, you are really good!". To which he replied, "so are you!". I got what I deserved.

Lastly, to the position. Hardly looks easy to win to me. If I were white I would dream about sacrificing my two nights for all your pawns, leaving black with the greatest possible material advantage that is still always a draw.

Lastly (wait I said that already), if I were black in this position with five mins to go I would not have drawn. I would certainly have lost.

Leon Akpalu said...

Actually, the idea of checking a technical ending with Fritz (esp in the state Fritz was in the 90s) is much more disturbing to me than anything else in this post. (last sentence of the post)

Regardless of the truth of the position, it does seem reasonable for a child not to know the correct outcome, since we've seen here that many experienced adults don't. I don't know which of the adults are right, but with this much disagreement certainly it's not unreasonable for a child to not know the correct answer.

I think that more important than the technical reality is your attitude. GMs like Yermo and Karpov probably have wet dreams thinking about having a position like Black's, because they get to torture their opponent forever with no chance of losing. On the other hand, Shabalov or Shirov might sit there shoving the pieces around thinking "how long until my next game"? (which is probably one reason they don't play the Caro-Kann) So maybe even here, maybe some of the posters’ opinions are more based on personal style -– like if the negative-opinioned IM is Emory Tate...

ATH2044 said...

OK now I get it. If you were having multiple orgasms DURING THE GAME you could be expected to run short of time (for moving chess pieces), since lack of time is the most common reason cited for having only one. That also explains your inexplicable euphoria upon reaching the diagrammed position.

Arne said...

There's a difference between a practical win and a theoretical win, of course. In practice, the endgame seems to me not so easy to win at all. It at least requires a lot of precision. And perhaps the kid hasn't even heard of the word 'theory' yet, so his only frame of reference would be the practical side of chess. Hence the Fritz-checking remark: instead of sitting down and trying to understand what's going on, he's simply feeding it to his engine. Again, very practical - and also very simplistic.

Still, he must have heard of the word 'manners' and offering a draw in a position like this is really silly.

I completely understand why you were upset by his behaviour. It just shows lack of basic manners, feeling and depth. But hey, he's a kid, isn't he? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Don't understand why it's not a very easy draw with knight blocking d4 pawn.

Polly said...

Kapil plays in a number of the tournaments that I run in at my local club, and other tournaments in my area. He's a good kid, and very confident of his ability. Higher rated adults don't intimidate him easily. He's not afraid to give an opinion, even if it's not right.

The final recorded position certainly does looks like Black is winning, but I certainly can understand why one might think it could be a draw with all the pawns on the same side, especially if lots of stuff get traded off.

Time pressure sucks. It's annoying not to have the time to working out the winning plan and execute it. I have no problem with two draw offers being made as long as they're spread apart and the position hasn't changed in such a manner that somebody is clearly making progress.

The kids who drive me nuts are the lower rated ones who have gotten throgh the opening against a higher rated opponent with even material, and perhaps a slight initiative and offer a draw after 17 moves. Somehow they just think the higher rated player is going to just give the draw that early. Kapil has never done that against me.