Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Mysterious and then Embarrassing Rook Ending, Part One: Counting Failure

Jessica Regan - Elizabeth Vicary
NY state women's championship rd 4

Before we get to the endgame, what should black do here?

not 25...Rxc3, because 26. Kb2 wins a rook! That would've been awful.

A Mysterious and then Embarrassing Rook Ending, Part One

ok, so we just exchanged queens into this ending:

and I can't figure anything out.

Maybe I'm better because my rook cuts his king off? Or worse because he has the potential outside passed pawn? Better because my pawn is already passed? Worse because her e5 pawn is cramping me? Better because it's a weakness?

I was utterly confused. I only needed to draw to clinch first, but she's 1550 and I strongly believe children are unable to play endgames, so I was going to at least try.

33.Rb4 Rc5 I figured Kb2 would attack it next anyway.
34.Kb2 Kf8 I could try going around Kg8-h7-g6, but I thought the rook might start checking me. I thought about playing ...f6 immediately, I just had no idea how to begin calculating how dangerous it would be to make her h pawn passed.

35.Rd4 Ke7
36.f4 f6 What else can I do?

I was really happy with this move, separating white's g and h pawns, but rybka doesn't care at all.
38.Rd3 Kf7
39.h5 Rc8
40.Rc3 Rxc3 I figured if you have a passed pawn, how bad can a straight-up pawn ending be?
41.Kxc3 Kg8
42.Kd4 Kh7
43.Kd3 (D)
Of course, Kd4-d3 told me something was up. And there is almost a vicious trap here.
If 43...Kh6 44.g4! fxg4 45.f5 (D)

I'm still ok, but this is the moment of hypothetical* truth

45...Kxh5 loses! 46.fxe6 Kg6 but the black king can never move again!
45...Kh7! is still winning: 46.fxe6 Kg8–+
In any case, I played it safe with

44.hxg6+ Kxg6
45.Ke3 Kh5
46.Kf3 Kh4
47.b4 a6
48.a3 d4
49.Ke2 Kg3

Now here I thought I was completely, easily winning. I win the pawns, the white king is miles away from a6 and b5, hurray for me, the winner, the brilliant endgame technician. I was also rushing because I wrote on the permission slip that I would get my students home between 8:30 and 9:30 and it was 9:15 and I was the last game and the parents will be waiting and annoyed.

But of course there's always something you could be fruitlessly worrying about rather than concentrating on your game, right?

And the amazing thing is that 50...Kxf4 wins and 50...Kxg2 draws, and I played the latter. 50...Kxf4 takes 7 moves to queen; 50...Kxg2 takes 8, since you have to move out of the way of your f pawn after capturing on f4. And white is only 8 moves away from taking my d and e pawns and queening the e pawn.

I am ashamed.

*since it's an analysis diagram


Bill Brock said...

Not that it makes any difference (50...Kxf4 is rather clearcut), but the strongest move may be 50...Kg4!, as White is then in zugzwang.

Leon Akpalu said...

I assume that in the major-piece position, Black plays Qc7, forking c3 and e5.

In the pawn ending, Bill's comment is very nice. But don't feel too bad about the error, as Ivanchuk recently made a similar oversight: http://www.chessbase.com/cbm/cbm129e/cbm129-12/endgame02base.htm

Leon Akpalu said...

In other news, Susan Polgar has just published her demonization of the USCF in her chesscafe column. She's really, really losing it...