Tuesday 31 March 2015

Cruelty abounds

I was doing a quick audit of my chess book collection, and I came across a couple of interesting things. Firstly, I seem to own 8 copies of Play Better Chess by Leonard Barden, and secondly, I really need to read more of the books I have.
One book I should revisit is 600 Endings, by Portisch and Sarkozy. It contains a number of interesting and practical positions, and I quickly discovered that cruelty can abound
One example is the diagrammed position, which was in fact the first one I looked at. In the book it is given as Black to play and draw, and is another example of how cruel chess is (see my previous column on this topic). White is 3 pawns up but in the following line the game is still drawn. 1. ... Kh8 2.g7+ Bxg7 (2. ... Kxg7? 3.h8(Q)+ +-) 3.f6 Bxf6 4.Kxf6 = There is a little side play on offer to make it interesting. 1. ... Bc3? 2.h8(Q)+ Kxh8 3.f6 Kg8 4.Ke7 Bb4+ 5.Ke8 Bc5 6.Bd5+ Kh8 7.g7+
There is an even meaner trick, not given in the book, where White tries to force Black into Zugzwang, but that fails, albeit in a slower way. 1. ... Kh8 2.Bd3 forces the Bishop to move, but now any push of the f pawn allows Bxf6= White can dance around with the King and the bishop, but as long as the Black bishop stays on the long diagonal, there is nothing to worry about. (For some extra fun, put this position into you chess engine and see what it thinks)

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