Endgame Corner

Analysis by Christian Westrap

One of the most important decisions that a player has to make in a rook endgame is whether to trade rooks and enter into a pawn endgame.  Pawn endings are notoriously tricky and the 2 examples that follow show that this decision is not always as straight-forward as it looks.

The first position occurred in K. Smith vs J. Weatherlake in the recent Highcliffe A vs Poole A match.  Ken has just played 29. Rc2-f2, offering black the chance to simplify into a favourable pawn endgame.  John, in time trouble, incorrectly decided to refuse the swap but the question still remains as to whether this pawn ending was winning for black?  The endgame that would have ensued is complicated, interesting and surprising!

 

 

To see, the solution, click here!

 

The second position is simpler but interesting nevertheless.  Here the game in question was A. Manson vs C. Westrap from the 1st round of the Highcliffe Swiss, played this year.  I had just simplified into this ending and with my last move 34… Rf6-e6, I offered a rook exchange which, at the board, I felt sure Andy had to refuse.  The pawn ending looked to me to be completely winning but as I analysed at the board I became less and less sure…

 

To see the analysis of both games, and the conclusions, click here!

 

Opening Traps

By John Jenkins

Everyone loves a good opening trap!  In this section we will look at some well-known and lesser well-known traps that can ensnare an unwary opponent and gain a decisive advantage after only a few moves.

The fourth position comes from the Chigorin Variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined and is a lesson in what not to do with your queen in the opening!  In this position white can exploit the black queen’s position and win material immediately.

 

 

Many thanks to our club Tournement Director John Jenkins for sending this, and many other, positions in.  If you have an interesting opening trap to send in then please let us know and we will feature it on the website!

To see the analysis of this game from move 1, click here!

 

Puzzle Corner – The Finest Combinations of the World Champions

 

2.  Wilhelm Steinitz

Steinitz was the first chess player to be officially recognised as World Champion.  He was also the first player to attempt to place chess on a logical and strategic footing.  In short, Steinitz believed that a player should first seek to gain a positional advantage before attempting to find a winning combination.  Before Steinitz, typically, the game would be a battle of fierce blows from the very outset with both sides attempting to checkmate the other.  After Steinitz, and as a direct result of his teachings, the game of chess would usually involve a strategic battle first and, once one side had achieved an advantage, then the combination would follow naturally.

Although Steinitz developed a reputation for closed, defensive play there are many fine combinations in his games.  The first one featured here is a classic king hunt.  White to play and win!

 

 

In the second position, the black king has made it to g8, but is still exposed and also blocking his own rook.  White is clearly better after any sensible move but how can he finish the game off by force in just a few moves?

 

 

The 3rd position is quite simple but satisfying!  How does black exploit white’s weakened king position?

 

 

The 4th and final position again shows Steinitz in a dominating position.  Here white could retreat the queen to e2 with a clear advantage or even exchange queens with a great position.  White can do much better than this though and win the game in just a few moves, but how?

 

 

To see the solutions, click here!

 

The following endgame puzzle features a position from a game between 2 Russian grandmasters that was played in the 1980s.  The solution is of great practical value as it illustrates both the main winning and defensive techniques in these types of positions. The ending of Rook vs Pawn occurs quite often in practise and is usually the result of a rook ending where the weaker side has sacrificed his rook for the stronger sides passed pawn.  This was the case in this ending and the question remains, how does white stop the enemy g-pawn without losing his rook?  Followers of chess puzzles should, quite rightly, be a bit suspicious of the obvious move here but how does white improve on this and win the enemy pawn by force?

 

Solving endgame studies is a great way to improve your game.  Besides having practical benefit though some of these studies have solutions that are quite astounding.  This 1925 study by Platov is a case in point as the position looks so natural.  This one is tricky but, have a go, as the solution is well worth it!  White is a piece up but black is close to queening his g-pawn.  A word of warning though as this puzzle features an ‘obvious’ solution that fails.  A hint as to the correct solution is that, in the mainline, white does not prevent the g-pawn from queening!

 

To see the solutions, click here!

 

Members Games

Here we will show some games played by our members.  If you have played an interesting game or have any chess related stories that you would like to share, then please let us know!

Games included so far:

A. Tyler vs R.Ursell

K. Smith vs J. Coles

C. Westrap vs D. Holmes

R. Halse vs D. Popovic

To see the games, with a few added comments, click here!