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Jeroen Bosch: Rook and pawn(s) versus Two Minor Pieces

Whenever I teach the subject of Rook and pawn(s) versus two minor pieces, I like to start with a little joke. Take a good look at the diagrammed position. Karsa : Bischoff Clichy 1993 1...Ta8 White has 2.e5, with very concrete threats. However, who told you it was White to move? In fact, it is Black's turn! And so the game ends after 1... Dc5! when suddenly white's pieces are all 'hanging in the air' and there is no way to avoid the loss of a piece! Rather than just having a bit of fun, while usefully capturing the attention of the audience, who will make sure for the rest of the session that they know who's move it is, the position serves a real purpose too. It teaches us that a rook requires an open file, and that pieces need strongholds. Materially speaking rook + pawn are about equal to a bishop + knight. However, this depends hugely on the circumstances of course. (In general, rook and two pawns constitute a slight material advantage, while a pair of bishops may easily tilt the balance in favour of the pieces). If we think about the properties of the pieces, then we can draw up the following simple chart: Endgame very strong cut off the king long distance Characteristics long distance needs open files cut off king long distance Diagonals short distance requires strongholds

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Things look rather threatening, right? You would like to start with 1.Sc6? Yes, that sure looks good. Square is an excellent stronghold for the knight. It prevents Black's queen from taking active measures (1...Dg3? is easily refuted by 2.Se7), and after, say Opening Rook not mobile Middlegame becomes active (open files?) Attack



Knight active


short distance no play on two wings


central influence sacrificed

structure -> plans

create passed pawn stronger as the game progresses


We will start off with a simple example. With a rook and two pawns versus two knights, White is doing very well in a material sense. What is more the knights lack strongholds, and the fact that white's passed pawn is as far removed as possible (remember that the rook pawn is the natural enemy of the knight) makes the win elementary. Yusupov A. : Ljubojevic L. Tilburg 1987

In the following classical example of Karpov, we will see the power of (passed) pawns in the ending. Hbner R. : Karpov A. Tilburg 1977

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1.Dd4 The centralization of the queen is already decisive, according to Yusupov. 1...De6 2.Ld5 Scd5 3.Td1 Putting the question to the central knight. Black has a tactical defence, but after 3...Tc8 4.Tc5! invites another trade, increasing White's advantage still further. 4.Td5? Sd5 5.Dd5? Dd5 6.Td5 Tc1+. 4...Tc5 5.Dc5 h5 6.a5 De4 7.h3 There is no hurry, White can make a luftloch. 7...g6 8.Dc6 Db4 9.a6 The knights are helpless to stop the pawn. Black resigned after 9.Td5+-. 9...Da5 10.Db7 Da4 11.Tb1 1:0

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First it is necessary to bring about our subject by means of an elementary combination: 1...Le3! 2.fe3 Se3 3.Kf3 Sf1 4.Sf1 In principle White would like to avoid the exchange of rooks, but 4.Tf1? loses a piece of course: 4...Tc2 5.Sc4 b5. 4...Tc1 5.Lc1 Tc8 6.Lb2

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The first phase has ended. Black has a material advantage and the initiative. This enough for a winning edge. Karpov now


decides to keep the initiative, by invading on the second rank to win gain two passed pawns on the queenside. Losing pawn f6, and with it his excellent structure, is a loss he is willing to take. 6...Tc2! 6...e5 7.Se3 protects some important squares, although White is still suffering after 7...Tc5 8.Ke2 Tb5 9.Lc1 Ke6. 7.Lf6 Ta2 8.Ke3 Ta3 9.Sd2 According to Karpov, Hbner defends in the best way: the bishop stays on the long diagonal, while the knight uses the excellent e4-square. The twelfth World Champion drily remarks however, that White's material disadvantage is a deciding factor. 9...b5 10.Se4 b4?! Karpov criticizes his play at this stage. Advancing the pawn means giving up the c4-square and limiting the range of the rook. It was better to advance with 10...a5! 11.Kd4 a5 12.Kc4 Threatening to trap the rook, so Black is forced to play: 12...Ta2 13.h4 Kc6 14.Ld4 Owing to 10...b4 Karpov has complicated the technical phase. By posting his rook on the first rank he removes it as far away as possible from the white pieces and increases its activity. 14...Te2 15.Le5 Te1! 16.Lf6 Tb1 Everything is ready for the advance of the apawn. 17.Le7 Defending against 17...a4, but now Karpov plugs the long diagonal. 17.Sd2 Tc1 18.Kb3 Kb5 wins easily. 17...e5! 18.g4 Tc1 19.Kb3 Kd5 Karpov has increased the activity of pieces. 20.Lg5 White cannot win the a-pawn, as 20.Ld8 Kd4 21.La5 Kd3 22.Sf6 Tb1 23.Ka2 Kc2 (Karpov) wins. 20...Tb1 21.Kc2 21.Ka4 Ta1 22.Kb3 Ta3 23.Kc2 Kd4. 21...Th1

Again maximizing the activity of the rook. 22.Kb3 Th3 23.Sf6 Kd4 24.Sh7 Td3 25.Kc2 a4 26.Le7 Tc3 27.Kb1 Tc7 0:1. Novikov : Kaidanov Vilnius 1986

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At first sight the ending looks unclear perhaps, but after 1...Tc4! it becomes clear that Black is much better, since he can undermine the all-important b2pawn. 2.Sc6 a3! 3.Sd4 3.ba3 Tc3 4.Sa7 (4.a4 a6) 4...Ta3 and White will eventually lose the b-pawn, when the ending of rook against knight with pawns on one wing is lost. 3...Tc5 4.Kf3 a2 5.Sc2 Tb5 6.Sa1 6.Ke4 Kf7 7.Kd4. 6...Kf7 7.Ke3 Ke6 8.g4 Kd5 9.Kd3 Tc5 10.b3

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It looks like White has come up with a decent line of defence. How to cross the


barrier? Kaidanov transforms the ending by noting the powerlessness of the knight in endings with pawns on both wings: 10...Tc3 11.Kc3 Ke4 12.f5 12.g5 f5! 13.Kb2 Kf4 14.Ka2 Kg5 15.Kb2 Kg4+. 12...Kf4 13.Kb2 Kg4 14.Sc2 Kh3 15.Sd4 Kh2 16.Se6 Kg3 16...h5+. 17.Sg7 Kg4! 18.Se8 Kf5 19.Sd6 Kf4 20.Se8 Kg5 21.Sd6 h5 22.Se4 Kf4 23.Sf6 h4 24.Sd5 Kf3 0:1. In the past three examples we observed the power of the combination rook and pawn(s). Now it is high time to see what those pieces do best: attack! The first example is very concrete. A pair of bishops are well-known as an excellent attacking force. Spassky B. : Tal M. Tallinn 1973

3.Ke1 De5 4.Kf1 4.Kd1 Dd4 5.Ke2 (5.Ke1 Dg1+) 5...De4 6.De3 La6+ (6...Tc2+) ; 4.Kf2 Tf7 5.Kg1 Dd4+.

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4...La6 Now this is a mistake! 4...Df5 5.Kg1 De4 transposes to the note to Black's second move and wins. 5.Kg1 Dd4 6.Kg2 De4

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Here Tal decides matters with 1...Lf2! Also winning was the 'quiet' 1...Df6 2.Tf1 (2.Tc5? Tc5 3.Tc5 Da1) 2...Df5 (creeping towards the long diagonal); 1...Df5? 2.Tc5! Tc5 (2...De4 3.f3 Dd4 4.Kg2 Tc5 5.Tc5 Dc5 6.Db7 Dc2 7.Kh3 Da2=) 3.Tc5 De4 (3...Dc5 4.Db7) 4.Kf1 La6 5.Tb5 Lb5 6.Db5 Dh1 7.Ke2 De4 8.Kd2 Dd4 only draws. 2.Kf2 Df6 Simpler was 2...Df5 3.Kg1 De4 and wins.

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7.Kg1? 7.Kh3 Tc2 8.Dc2 Lf1!+; 7.Kf2! Tf7 8.Kg1 would have severely complicated Black's task as 8...Lb7 is met by 9.Tc8 Kh7? (9...Lc8 10.Tc8 Kh7 11.Dc2=) 10.Dc2. 7...Lb7 and we are back in our familiar winning position. 8.h4 Dh1 9.Kf2 Tf7 10.Ke2 De4 0:1.


Capablanca J. R. : Alekhine A. Buenos Aires 1927

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Although development is about equal, Black hasn't castled yet, and this explains Capablanca's next energetic bid for an advantage. 1.b4! Lb4 After the alternative 1...Sb4 2.Sd6 Kd8 3.Dd7 Kd7 4.Sc8 Tc8 5.Sd2 Black does not have enough for the exchange. 2.Tc6! This is clearly stronger than 2.Sc7 Tc7 3.Lc7 Lc5! 4.Lf4 00 when Black has more play than in the previous note with the queens still on. 2...Tc6 3.Db4 So here we have arrived at our subject. With bishop and knight versus rook and pawn material may be about equal. However, it is awkward for Black that he still cannot castle. Moreover, the isolated d-pawn guarantees that White will always have a stronghold (on d4) for his pieces. 3...Se4 4.Sd2 Sd2 5.Dd2 5.Ld2!? 5...00 6.Td1 The first object of attack is the isolated pawn. 6...Tc5 7.Sd4 Te8 It was more natural to aim for counterplay with 7...Tfc8. 8.Sb3 Tcc8 9.e3 Da4

9...f6 was a tougher defence. After 10.Dd5 (10.h4!) 10...Dd5 11.Td5 Tc2 Black has a certain amount of counterplay.

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10.Dd5! Excellent judgement! It looks highly dangerous to exchange the a-pawn for the dpawn - with two passed pawns on the queenside all endings look winning for Black. However, Capablanca has seen further: the light pieces will be in their element, attacking the Black king. 10...Tc2 Not 10...Da2 11.Ta1 Dc2 12.Ta7. 11.Td2 Ta2 White also has a strong attack after 11...Da2 12.Dd7! Tf8 13.Tc2 Dc2 14.Sd4 Dc5 15.Sf5. 12.Ta2 Very strong was 12.Td4! Da6 13.Tc4 when the rook joins in the attack along the seventh rank. 12...Da2 13.Dc6! Forcing the rook into passivity. 13...Tf8 14.Sd4 Kh8?! 14...Td8 15.Ld6 h6 16.e4. 15.Le5! f6 16.Se6 Tg8 17.Ld4 The bishop is ideally placed, Black is totally lost now. 17...h6 18.h4! Black still has some sort of defence after 18.Sg7 Tg7 19.Df6 Dd5 20.Kg1 Dg5. 18...Db1 19.Sg7! Dg6 White wins the pawn ending after 19...Tg7 20.Df6 De4 (20...Dh7 21.Df8 Dg8 22.Lg7)


21.Kg1 Db7 22.Dh6 Kg8 23.Dg7 Dg7 24.Lg7 Kg7 25.Kf1+-. 20.h5 Also good is 20.Sh5 Dh5 21.Df6 Kh7 22.De7 and Black's king is caught in a mating net. 22...Kg6 23.e4 (or the immediate 23.f3! ) 23...a5 24.f3 a4 25.g4+-. 20...Df7 21.Sf5 Kh7 22.De4 Te8 23.Df4 Df8 24.Sd6 Te7 With such a bad king, Black is without defence against light pieces: 24...Td8 25.Df5 Kg8 26.De6 Kh7 27.Lf6! Td6 28.Df5 Kg8 29.Dg6+-. 25.Lf6 Da8 26.e4 Tg7 27.Lg7 Kg7 28.Sf5 Kf7 29.Dc7 1:0 Psakhis L. : Lputian S. Yerevan 1989

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As we are approaching the ending, it may appear that Black is OK here. However, just like in the previous example White can coordinate his pieces into a direct attack on the black king. This is a challenging and useful example since it demonstrates the abilities of the light pieces in a position with no outside 'noise'. 1.Sc4! 1.Se4 Da2 2.Sd6. 1...Da2 Black takes the pawn and puts his money on his queenside pawns. For some time now the queen will be missed in the defence though.

Objectively best was 1...Dd8 2.Se3 (2.Sd6 fails now to the pin 2...Dc7! for example 3.g3 (3.Dd5? Td8) 3...Td8 4.Sc4 De5 5.Se5) 2...Te8 3.Dd5 Dd5 4.Sd5 but this ending should be assessed as won for White, though there are still technical difficulties. A rook is a strong piece in such an open position with pawns on both wings. The win is easier after 1...Dc5 2.Se3 Td8 3.Lc4! Dd6 4.Dd6 Td6 5.Ld5 and both bishop and knight are actively placed and well-coordinated. 2.Sd6 Db1 3.Sf5 This may remind you of the previous Capablance : Alekhine example. 3...f6 4.Dd5 Kh8 5.Dd7 5.Sd6 h6 6.Db7 is similar to the game. 5...Tg8 6.Sd6 h6 7.Db7 a5 8.Db5 Clearly White is winning. He is ahead in material, and Black's king will remain weak. 8...Tf8 9.g4 Creating some space for his king and his bishop while controlling some light squares as well. It should never be forgotten though, that pawns can't move backwards. I will now reveal that the game will end in a draw! Such a move as 9.g4 is perfectly sound, but it commits White to accurate calculation. Meanwhile it was possible to win the game without any risk: 9.Sc4 Td8 10.Da5 Td1 11.Se3 and Black can safely resign. 9...De1 10.Dd7 Dc1 11.Kg2 f5!? Desperation, but also the only chance to stir up trouble. 12.De7 Immediately winning was 12.Sf7 Kg8 13.Dd5 Db2 14.Se5 Kh7 15.Ld3; 12.Sf5 Db2 is no longer a simple win. 12...Tg8 13.Sc4 Many roads lead to Rome. Also winning are: 13.Sf7 Kh7 14.Ld3; 13.Lc4; 13.Ld3. 13...fg4 14.hg4 Df4 15.De6? This greatly reduces White's advantage. because of his commital play, it was now necessary to continue actively by means of 15.Se5! and White wins in the attack. 15...Tf8 16.De2 a4 17.Se5 Tf6? 18.De3?


This is a big mistake. First of all there was an immediate win, but more important for our purposes is that it is principally the wrong decision. We have already learned that in an ending the rook greatly increases in strength, whereas the pieces are stronger in a middlegame situation (with the queens on). 18.Sd7! wins on the spot! 18...De3 19.fe3 White no longer has any attacking chances, and pawn b2 is a weakness. With material greatly reduced Black has excellent drawing chances. 19...Tb6 20.Sc4 Tb4 21.Kf3 g6 22.e4 Kg7 23.e5 h5 24.gh5 gh5 25.Kf4 A good moment to ask your pupils how they would continue:

Hort V. : Hbner R. Germany 1982

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Have your pupils analyse this position in pairs of two. Ask them to present their conclusions before you demonstrate Hbner's continuation. 1...Lh4! 2.Tc6 2.Sh4 Sd4 3.Dd3 Sc2 4.Tc2 Da4! 5.Tc8 Tc8 6.Sf3 Da2 and Black should win. 2...Tc6 3.Sh4 Tc1 4.Lc1 Da4! Without this double attack (which has to be seen when embarking on 1...Lh4) Black would have no advantage. 5.Dg4 5.a3 Dd4 6.Sf3 De4. 5...Kh8 Hbner avoids weakening his king's position. It was possible to play 5...h5 6.Dh5 Dd4. 6.a3 Dc2 The queen both attacks and defends. 7.Df4 Kg8! Again Hbner continues in the best way, by playing it safe. Meanwhile White would be allright after 7...Tc8 8.Le3 De4? This looks strong, but fails to the sacrifice (8...Kg8!) 9.Df7! Dh4 10.Db7 when White will win the a-pawn too, when he has enough for the exchange. 8.b4 Tc8 8...De4 was very strong too. 9.Le3 Dd1 10.Kh2 Dh5 11.g3?! Tc3 12.a4 Tb3 13.Kg2

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25...Tb2! Or 25...h4 26.Kg4 Tb2. 26.Sb2 a3 A good illustration of the rule that the rook's pawn is the knight's worst enemy. 27.Lc4 27.e6 Kf6 (27...a2 28.e7 a1D 29.e8D Df1 30.Kg5 Df6=) 28.Lc4 ab2=. 27...ab2 28.La2 h4 28...Kg6. 29.Kg4 Kg6 30.Lb1 30.Kh4 Kf5 31.e6 b1D 32.Lb1 Ke6. 30...Kf7 31.Lf5 h3 32.Kh3 b1D 33.Lb1 Ke6 A remarkable escape draw!


13.Ld2 h6! wins. 13...Tb4 With two pawns Black has a material advantage. Things will be decided on the queenside; note how far removed the white knight is. 14.a5 Tb1 15.Df3 Df3 16.Sf3 b6 Creating the passed pawn that will win the game. 17.ab6 a5 18.Lg5 a4 19.Le7 Tb6 20.Se1 Tb2 21.Lc5 h5 22.Sd3 a3! 23.La3 Tb3 0:1. Knaak R. : Forintos G. Skopje 1972

We have studied some of the principles of rook and pawn versus two pieces on the basis of several more or less 'classical' positions. Now let's investigate a few games from the 2011 Tata Steel Chess Festival in Wijk aan Zee. We will see many of our familiar themes return. Tania S. : Lahno K. Wijk aan Zee 2011

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The first move is obvious. Ask your pupils to calculate and to make an accurate assessment. 1...Sd4! 2.Td4 La4 3.Td8 Tfd8 4.Sa4 Tac8 5.Sc3 Lc3 6.bc3 Tc3 7.Kb2 Play was forced until now. Black's next move is still part of his combination. 7...Tdc8 The excellent coordination of Black's rooks and the fact that White is still not fully developed promise Black a winning edge. Play is only equal after 7...Tc6 8.Le2 Tb6 9.Ka1. 8.Sd4 8.Se1 T3c6! 9.Sd3 Tb6 10.Ka1 Tc2+. 8...e5 9.Sb3? 9.Se2 T3c6!+. 9...Tc2 10.Kb1 Tf2 11.Sc1 e4 12.Lb5? Tcc2 0:1.

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In the diagrammed position White has an obvious material advantage. However, the position of her king is perhaps slightly shaky. Can White get rid of the pressure? 30.Dd4 Forcing the exchange of queens. In principle this is a bad idea when you are playing with the light pieces. However, in the present situation White's material advantage, and the fact that it is White's king which is under pressure, may well justify this decision. The question is, though, can Black win the apawn after trading queens? Meanwhile, White could also win by means of 30.Sd3 Tb5 31.Ke2 Td5 32.Db3 and after 32...Db3 33.Lb3 the ending is winning for White. 30...Dd4 31.ed4 Ta2 Material equilibrium has been restored. However, isn't that rook trapped on a2? White's task is not too difficult after 31...Ke7 32.Kc1 Tb4 33.Sf3 Kd6 (33...c5 34.Se5!) 34.Lb3 f6 35.Kc2 c5 36.Kc3 cd4 37.Sd4 Kc5 38.Se6 Kd6 39.g3 and White wins as


after 39...Tb3? 40.Kb3 Ke6 41.Ka4 the pawn ending is easy.

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32.Sd3? What a pity! The intrepid rook had to be caught by 32.Kc1! Ta1 33.Lb1 Ta4 34.Sc2 c5 35.Kb2 (not 35.dc5? Tc4 and Black has an edge) 35...c4 36.La2! Ke7 37.Lb3! (a very neat way to win the rook) 37...cb3 38.Kb3 and again the pawn ending loses for Black after 38...Tb4 39.Sb4 ab4 40.Kb4. 32...Ta1 33.Kd2 a4 The rook is no longer trapped, and therefore it is Black who holds an edge! 34.Kc3 a3 35.g3 g5!

maximum. White will never be able to shift as quickly between kingside and queenside as Black. 36.Lb3 h5 37.Sb4 h4 38.Sc2 38.gh4 gh4 39.d5 c5 40.Sc2 Th1 41.Sa3 Th2 42.d6 Th3 43.Kc2 Tb3! 44.Kb3 h3+. 38...Th1 39.gh4 gh4 40.Sa3 Th2 According to plan, Black has traded her passed a-pawn for a passed h-pawn. 41.La4 Tf2 42.Lc6 h3 43.Sc4 Tf1 44.Kb4 44.Se3? Tc1+. 44...h2 45.Se3 Tb1 46.Kc5 f5! 46...Tc1! 47.Sc4 f5+. 47.La8 47.Sf5 Tc1 48.Kd6 Tc6+. 47...Te1 48.Sc4 48.Sf5 Ta1 49.Le4 Ta5 50.Kd6 Tf5+. 48...Te4 0:1. Bok B. : Kazhgaleyev M. Wijk aan Zee 2011

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Preparing .. .Th1. The standard way to win such endings is by using the rook's abilities (long-range, cutting off the king, controlling both dark and light squares) to their

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The ending is dynamically equal, but very complicated of course. Even with so few pieces White plays for an attack on the king. 40.Sf6 Kh8 Black should be able to hold a draw after 40...Kh6. A sample line runs: 41.Sg8 Kh5 42.Se7 Tf3 43.Lf2 Ta3 44.Th1 Kg4 45.Th4 Kg5 46.Th2 Kg4 47.Sf5 Ta2 48.Sd6 Kf3 49.Th3 Kg4=. 41.Tg6?! 41.b5!?


41...Tc8 41...Th1! 42.Kf2 (42.Ke2 f3 43.Kf2 Tc8) 42...Tc8. 42.Lf2! Ta3 Not 42...f3 43.Le3!+- and since Black cannot set-up a mating attack, the weakness of pawn d6 will tell. A sample line: 43...Th1 44.Kf2 Tc2 45.Kf3 Th3 46.Tg3 (46.Kg4 Tg2 47.Kh3 Tg6 48.Sg4+-) 46...Tg3 47.Kg3 Ta2 48.Se8+-. 43.Sg4 Ta2?! Black could have forced a repetition by means of 43...Tc1 44.Kg2 Tc2 45.Sf6 a) 45.Kg1 Tc1 46.Kg2 Tc2; b) 45.Th6 Kg7 46.Kf1 (46.Td6?? Tg3+) 46...Tc1 47.Kg2 Tc2; 45...Tc8. 44.Td6 Now White has an edge. 44...f3 44...Tc1 45.Kg2 Tc3 46.Th6! Kg7 47.Th3 Th3 48.Kh3 b6 49.Lh4! and the pieces coordinate well. 45.Kg1! Te2 46.Kh2 Te4

48...a5 49.Th6 Kg7 50.Tg6 Kh7 51.d6 Td8 52.Te6 Tg8?! Black should draw with 52...Te4 53.Te7 (53.Kf3 Te5 54.Te5 Td6) 53...Kg8 54.Kf3 Te5 55.Te5 Td6. 53.Kh3?! White has excellent winning chances after 53.Kf3 Tf8 54.Kg2 Tb2 55.Te7 Kh6 (there are some neat tactics after 55...Kg8 56.Sg4 Td2 57.d7 a4 58.Kg3 a3 59.Le1! (59.Le3 Td3 60.Sh6 Kh8 61.Sf7 Tf7 62.Tf7 a2=) 59...Td3 60.Kh4 a2 61.Lc3!+- Tc3 62.Sf6+-) 56.Kg3 Tb3 57.Kh4 Tb4 58.Sg4 Tg4 59.Kg4 Tf2 60.d7 Td2 61.Kf5 a4 62.Kf6!!

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47.Se5! White is better, but not winning. 47...Tb4 47...Te5 48.Ld4 Tce8 49.Te6!+-; 47...Te2 48.Kg3 Tg8 49.Kf3 Te5 50.Ld4 Tf8 51.Kg4 Tff5 52.Le5 Te5 53.Kf4 Th5 54.Td7 Kg8 55.b5 Kf8 56.Ke4+-. 48.Kg3 48.La7.

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White combines mating threats with supporting his passed pawn. (62.Ke6 a3 63.Te8 a2 64.Ta8 Kg6! (64...Kg7 65.Ta2!+-) 65.d8D (65.Ta2? Ta2 66.d8D Te2 67.Kd7 Td2+) 65...Td8 66.Ta2=) 62...a3 (62...Kh5 63.Te5 Kg4 64.Ke7 Kf4 65.Ta5+-) 63.Te1! (63.Te3 Kh5 64.Ke7 a2=) 63...Kh5 64.Ke7+-. 53...Tb1 54.Te7 54.Sg4. 54...Kh6?? This is a blunder, undoubtedly influenced by the fatigue of a long game and the time situation on the clock. 54...Tg7! 55.Sf3 Th1 56.Sh2 Td1 57.Lg3 Kg8 should end in a draw. 55.Le3 Tg5 56.Sf7 Kg6 57.Sg5 Td1 58.d7 a4 59.Sf3 Kf6 60.Lg5 Kg6 61.Te6 Kf5 62.Te5 1:0.



Vocaturo D. : Siebrecht S. Wijk aan Zee 2011

Navara D. : Spoelman W. Wijk aan Zee 2011

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Material is equal. Nevertheless the pieces are doing very well indeed after 23.g4! Lc8?! The point is 23...Lc2? 24.Sa1!+-; 23...Kg7 24.Tb6; 23...Le6 24.Sc5. The best chance was 23...Ld7 24.Sc5 (24.Lf3 Kg7 25.Tb6) 24...Lc6 25.La6 Kg7 26.g5 h6 27.h4 hg5 28.hg5 Th8 29.Le2. 24.Tb6 Or 24.Sc5. 24...Td8 No better is 24...f5, when 25.gf5 Lf5 (25...gf5 26.Sc5 Kg7 27.Sd5) 26.Tb7 Lc2 27.Sc5 should win. 25.Sc5 f5 26.gf5 gf5 27.Lc4 Kh8 28.Sd5 28.Ld5 was also very strong. 28...Tg8 29.Kf2 Tg4 29...Tg6 30.Sd3! 30.Lb3 Th4 31.Sc7 Ta7 32.Se8! Starting the final attack on the king. 32...Th2 33.Kg1 Th4 34.Tf6 h6 35.Tf8 Kh7 36.Tf7 Kh8 36...Kg6 37.Tg7 Kh5 38.Lf7# (38.Sf6#). 37.Sf6 1:0.

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A complex position. Navara now embarks on an interesting adventure: 16.Lf7!? Black is fairly comfortable after 16.Sf5 Lf5 17.Df5 a4 18.La2 e4. 16...Df7 17.de5 Not 17.Sg6 Kg8 18.de5 Sfd7 19.Sf8 (19.e6 De6 20.Sf8 Sf8) 19...Se5 when Black is better. 17...Sfd7 18.Sg6 Kg8 19.Sf8 Se5 20.f4 Speed is of the essence. White needs to push his kingside/central majority or otherwise the pieces will be too strong. 20...Sec4 21.Lc1 Df8 22.b3!? Sa3 22...Sd6 23.e4. 23.La3 Da3 24.Sb5 De7 Perhaps 24...cb5 25.Dc7 Sd7!, planning 26.e4? Dc5 27.Dc5 Sc5. 25.Sc7 Dc7 26.e4 This is hard to assess. In principle Black is better, unless White is able to push his pawns as fast as possible to avoid Black from consolidating. 26...Ld7 27.e5 Sd5 28.f5 Tf8 29.Tf3 b5 30.f6 Le8 31.Df5 gf6 32.ef6 Df7?? This blunders the game. A draw is the outcome after 32...Kh8! 33.Te8! Te8 34.f7 Tf8 35.De6 Kh7 36.De4 with a perpetual. 33.Tg3 Kh8 34.Tg7 Dg7 35.fg7 Kg7 36.De5 Kg6 37.Db8 Sf6 38.Te7 1:0.



Aronian L. : Shirov A. Wijk aan Zee 2011

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A real genius in positions with unequal material is Levon Aronian. Here he decides to unbalance the game with 24.Td5!? Ld5 25.Dc5 Ted8 26.cd5 Dd5 27.Dc2 As we know, trading queens is in principle what White should avoid: 27.Dd5 Td5 28.Tb7 Td2 29.a3 Ta2 and with such passive pieces White cannot be better. 27...b5 28.Db2 b4 This is more or less forced after 24. Rd5. Play is dynamically equal. 29.Le5 Dd2 Again Shirov offers to trade queens. 30.Da1 30.Lg7 Db2 31.Lb2 Td2 with decent counterplay for Black. 30...De2 31.Ld4 31.Lg7? Td2+. 31...Tab8 32.h3 f6

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Again both sides have consolidated and play

remains equal. Black has blocked the diagonal, while White has blocked the d-file and has positioned his bishop in the best possible way. 33.Tb2 Db5 34.Db1 Dd5 35.Dd1 Tbc8 36.Td2 De6 37.Kh2 Td7 38.g3 Tdc7 Shirov has doubled rooks on the c-file and is now ready to penetrate. 39.Lb2 Tactically defending square c1. 39...Da2 40.Le5 Dd2? The proverbial mistake on move 40 (although White is not winning yet). Correct was 40...Tc1! 41.Dc1 Tc1 42.Ta2 fe5 43.Ta5 (43.Sg2?? b3+) 43...Te1 44.Tb5 Tb1 45.Te5 b3 46.Te4 Tf1 47.Tb4 Tf2 48.Kg1 and the rook ending is a draw. 41.Dd2 fe5 42.Dd5 Only White has chances here. However, the knight is still passive and the passed pawns on the queenside are a real issue. 42...Tf7 43.Kg2 Tcf8 44.h4 Kh8?! 44...a4 45.De4 Tf2 46.Kh3 a3. 45.De4 Tf2?! Exact calculation is required for the draw after 45...b3! 46.Sd3 b2 47.Se5 Tf2 48.Kh3 Tf1 49.Sg6 Kg8 50.Se7 Kh8 (50...Kf7? 51.Sf5 b1D 52.De7 Kg6 53.h5 Kf5 (53...Kh5 54.g4 Kg6 55.Dg7#) 54.g4#) 51.Sg6=. 46.Kh3 b3 47.Sd3 b2 48.Db7!? 48.Sf2 Tf2 49.Da8 Kh7 and White cannot win. 48...T8f7? The note to move 51 explains why this is a mistake. Black could still draw with 48...a4 49.Sb2 a3 50.Sd3 a2 51.Da6 Td2 52.Sb4 h5 53.Sa2 Tff2 54.Da8 Kh7 55.g4=. 49.Db5! a4 50.Sb2 a3 51.Sd3 Tf1 51...a2 52.Sf2 a1D 53.De8 Kh7 54.Df7 shows why Shirov's 48th move was a mistake. 52.Da4 Th1 53.Kg4 1:0.