Monday, January 14, 2008

Playing The Endgame

I was playing a similarly rated opponent today on FICS. My endgame skills are torrid to say the least here. I should have easily converted this to a win. Instead, I made wrong moves and this game went on for 26 more moves instead when it should have been quicker.

We arrived at the following position (see 1st diagram on right). I am White. Black just played

21. ... h4

I made mistakes from this point onwards. Up till then, Fritz was relatively happy with my play. I had slowly put on the pressure on my opponent and was threatening to break through.

Instead, I played the terrible move. 22. Nf4 which handed my opponent a lifeline and he instantly took advantage of it with 22... Rg4 and we traded a Rook each. This was a mistake. What I should have done here is play the move.

22. Rh5! This move IMHO is the most accurate.

White's aim: White threatens to take one of the 2 h-pawns.
White's additional aim: It also parries a potential threat from Black. Black is threatening ... c5! and after bxc5, Black wants to put the Bishop on c5 so as to fatally pin the Rook. However, if my Knight had remained on e2, I can safely repel the attack with d4.

After a pair of the Rooks were traded, realising my foolhardiness, I was forced to withdraw my Knight back to e2 which where it should have been.

Now my opponent missed a golden chance for his bishop and instead played 33... bxc5? (see 2nd diagram on right). Definitely better was 33... Bxc5 where the Bishop is now free.

In this position I made the cardinal sin. I took his rook with 34. Rxg4. Ouch! Remind me never to do such stupid things again.

I've just unrolled his double h-pawns and now his kingside pawns are rock solid again.

There were 2 moves I could have done. One was 34. c4. This would blockade his Bishop but unfortunately, here, it does not work well. Because after the Rook trade, Black will win my crucial e-pawn and I will be forced to back-pedal. What I should have played here was a very nice move 34. Rf4! This move works. I threaten to take his h-pawn which cannot be defended. If his Rook goes to h5, then I move my rook to the now open g-file and he cannot go back to the g-file. One thing is interesting is that he can create some counterplay with the strong move c4! after which his Rook can slide to the a-file to attack my a-pawn and this would lead to unclear play with chances for both sides.

My Rook endgame technique right now belongs in the "I suck" category. I must continue to work harder at it. Interestingly enough, one of my friends recommended me to have a look at Korchnoi's book Practical Rook Endings. I will have a peep at the book soon. I'm still in R&R mood and half my mind tells me to enjoy the holiday, the other half says,"Don't be a lazy bum. This is the only time you can squeeze some chess training time in." Decisions, decision...... :)


  1. Cheers!

    I was over at Hardcore Pawnography saw your comment there and thought I would stop by... You got a great site here... I really enjoyed your commentary on your own play and your assessment is delight to read.

    Keep working those endgames...

  2. thanks for the vote of encouragement, dan. much appreciate it. :)