Sunday, September 11, 2011

Instructive ending

Last night there was an instructive ending from the on-going World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. The following position was reached in Gashimov - Ponomariov

After 78. Kh5

The players were at the increment stage of thirty seconds. Both players had less than a minute at this point.
Black found the instructive win with -

78. ...Ng1 ! 

It might seem unusual to exchange off pawns leaving black the last pawn which white can sacrifice the bishop for. However Ponomariov must have known this was a theoretical win.

79. Bxg5 

There is nothing better.

79...a3 80. Bc1 a2 81. Bb2 Nxh3 82. Kh4 Nf4 83. Kg3

White would love to play his king nearer to the pawn but 83.Kf2 loses to the fork 83...Nd3+

83...Ke4 84. Ba1 Nd3 85. Kg2 Ke3 86. Kg3 Nc5

Just to show that this ending is not as simple as it seems, the obvious 86.Kd2 Kf3 88. Kc2 Ke2 89. Nb2 Ke1 90. Kb1 Kd2 91. Kxa1 Kc1! is a draw. You need to try this out on a board if you do not believe. Even with a extra knight, there is no way to extricate the black king out of the corner. Black need to place his knight in the correct position before going into this line.

The next few moves does not really change the result. Ponomariov was probably trying to gain some time on the clock before going into the winning ending.

87. Kg2 Ke2 88. Kg3 Na4 89. Kg2 Nb6 90. Kg3 Nc4 91. Kg2 Ne3+ 92. Kg3 Nd1 93. Kg2 Ke3 94. Kg3 Kd2  !

Black has enough time on the clock and worked out the winning idea.

95. Kf3 Kd3 96. Kf4 Kc2 97. Ke4 Nb2! 

The winning idea is to re-position the knight

 98. Ke3

The other try was 98.Ke1 and here too black has a winning idea. 98...Nc5! 99.Ke2 Kb1 100. Kd1 (100. Be5 Na4 reaches similar positions) Nd3! 101. Kd2 (101. Be5 Nb2+ blocks off the bishop and the pawn queens) Nb2 with a similar position as in the actual game

Na4 99. Ke2 Kc1 100. Kd3 Kb1 101. Kd2 Nb2

Puts white into zugzwang! If it is blacks turn to move, this is a draw e.g 102....Kxa1 103. Kc1 (fortunately white has this square!) Nd3+ 104. Kc2 and the king can never be driven away from the squares c1 and c2.

 102. Kc3 Kxa1 103. Kc2 Nd3  0-1

With this win, Ponomariov advances to the semi-final stage. 


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