Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Runner, runner

'Runner, runner' is more recognisable as a poker expression, but it does turn up in chess as well. The chess usage is to do with multiple passed pawns, often so far apart that the defending king cannot deal with both of them.
An example of this turned up in a game I was watching this evening. In the diagrammed position, White pinned his hopes on creating passed pawns on either side of the board with 1.g4. After the obvious 1. ... hxg4 2.hxg4 Ke5 he continued with 3.b4 but now Black is winning with 3. ... cxb4 4.cxb4 axb4 While White has his runners, so does Black, and it is the b pawn that gets there first. 5.a5 b3 6.a6 b2 7.a7 b1(Q) 8.a8(Q) Qe1# (although in the actual game Black played the sub-optimal 8. ... Qd3+ but still went on to win)
Of course the initial position is against White, but only because he pushed the a pawn to a4 at some point previously. If instead he had the pawn on a3, then the tables are turned, and White's idea really does work, as he still gets his runners, but Black does not!

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