Monday, August 13, 2007

Rook vs Pawns III

It's White to move unless otherwise noted. If you're new to such positions, check out Rook vs Pawns and Rook vs Pawns II before reading this.

I chose these positions because top players didn't handle them correctly!

1. Variation of Klovsky-Azmaiparashvili, Moscow 1979

White will promote in 6 moves, but Black can defend the promotion square in 5 moves. Obviously, accurate maneuvering will be vital to success.

1.Kh5? Kf3. Black's king has no trouble reaching the promotion square.

1.Kg4?! seizes the opposition, but Black has a counter-measure: 1...Rg8! It's the same trick we saw in Reti, 1928. White's in zugzwang and must give way. Play could continue 2.Kh5 Kf3 -/+ or 2.Kf5 Kh3 -/+.

1.g6! Only this move secures the draw. 1...Kf3 2.Kg5 Ke4 3.Kf6. White successfully shouldered out Black's king.

2.Wagner Michel-Burchardt, Halle 1982

Annett Wagner Michel had fought tenaciously in a pawn-down rook endgame to reach this drawn position. How should she continue?

1.Kh6?? Rg1! -/+ : Allows Black to entomb the White king and thus win easily.

1.Kg6? : White (with the move) is 6 tempos away from promoting, while Black is 6 tempos away from defending the promotion square--it looks like White will promote, forcing a draw. However, since it's a rook pawn, White needs an extra tempo to draw and this move doesn't provide it (see next diagram).

1...Ke3 2.h5 Kf4 3.h6 Re6+ 4.Kg7 Kg5 5.h7 Re7+ 6.Kg8 Kg6

White gets to promote, but that doesn't salvage the game. 7.h8=Q Re8# or 7.h8=N Kf6 8.Kf8 Ra7 -/+. Underpromotion would have worked with any pawn except the rook pawn. Good try, Annett.

1.Kg5!! : Shouldering out. After 1...Ke3 2.h5, Black's king doesn't have any effective way to penetrate so the position is drawn.

3. Tomorhuyag-Borkowski, Gdynia 1985

This position takes some calculation. Where to move Whits's king?

1.Kh8?? : Never put your king in front of your pawn without a good reason. Mate follows: 1...Kf6 2. Kg8 (forced) Rb7 3.Kh8 (forced) Kg6 4.h7 Rb8#

1.Kg8?! : A good try, but a little calculation shows 1...Kf6! 2.h7 Rg7+! -/+. White's king is forced in front of his pawn, as in the last line.

1.Kg6! : Black's king is opposed and has no way to make progress. If 1...Rg6+ 2.Kg7! and we've already repeated the position--draw.

4. Toth-Fernandes, Rio De Janeiro 1986

White's only drawing move is 1.Kc4!, shouldering out the Black king. In the actual game White played 1.a5 allowing 2.Kd3! and Black wins easily.

5. Seul-Hjartarson, Bundesliga 1990

Black to move. Black's only drawing move is 1...Kc5! Again, shouldering out the opposing king is the only way to secure the draw.

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