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Andrei Sokolov vs Viktor Korchnoi
Interpolis 11th (1987), Tilburg NED, rd 5, Sep-21
Spanish Game: Open. Berlin Variation (C82)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-24-09  WhiteRook48: I'm like- random moves putting pieces en prise, so like 44...g5??? losing
May-24-09  goodevans: <johnlspouge>,

There’s a few points I’d like to clear up. First, you don’t need a rating of 2100 to consider the possibility of 45 ... h5. If you look at my earlier posts you’ll see I considered it but (incorrectly) thought 46 Kf5 would draw.

Then there’s the issue of silicon assistance. The computer I’m using isn’t mine so I’m not at liberty to download software onto it. To me white’s position looks hopelessly lost after <44…h5 45.Kd4 Kd7 46.Kd5 c6+ 47.Kc5 Ke6 48.Kxc6 Kxe5> (for example, 49 Kd7 Kf4 50 Ke6 g5) so I’d appreciate a sample continuation to show how white saves it.

Finally, let me attempt a more helpful response to your question. What I have in my head is difficult to put into words, but in essence the answer is something along the lines that given the choice between a complex line (i.e. 44 ... h5) and a win that is more easily demonstrable (i.e. 44 ... Kd7) then the <general rule> is to pick the latter. Now this sounds patronising and I don’t mean it to be and it also relies on considering 44 ... Kd7 to be an easily demonstrable win, which is a bit subjective.

So what makes me claim that 44 ... Kd7 is an easily demonstrable win? When I chose it, it was on the basis that white is without a decent move. He can’t go after black’s K-side pawns yet (which 44 ... h5 allows), he can’t push home his own e-pawn and the remaining option leads to the game line which is not too difficult to analyse.

Perhaps a better argument 44 ... Kd7 is an easily demonstrable win is that the analyses provided by the likes of <agb2002> manage to be exhaustive without being “insanely” extensive.

May-24-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Put me in the camp that thinks that there is more to this puzzle than meets the eye.

This is a plausible continuation of the text from move 45 on.

45 Kf5 c5 46 Kf4 c4 47 Ke4 c3 48 Kd3 Ke6 49 Kxc3 Kxc5 50 h5.


click for larger view

Per the Nalimov table bases, in this position there is only one move that wins for black, 50…Ke4.


click for larger view

50…Kf4 instead, draws.


click for larger view

How does one learn which move is correct?

May-24-09  goodevans: < Jimfromprovidence: Put me in the camp that thinks that there is more to this puzzle than meets the eye. This is a plausible continuation of the text from move 45 on. 45 Kf5 c5 46 Kf4 c4>

46 ... c4 looks a bit hasty to me. Why not 46 ... Ke6, followed by fixing the K-side pawns (as per previous postings) and only then forcing the exchange of central pawns prior to a dash for the K-side pawns?

May-24-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <goodvans> <46 ... c4 looks a bit hasty to me. Why not 46 ... Ke6, followed by fixing the K-side pawns (as per previous postings) and only then forcing the exchange of central pawns prior to a dash for the K-side pawns?>

That makes more sense. Thanks

May-24-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  CHESSTTCAMPS: <johnlspouge> wrote <<CHESSTTCAMPS> gives the variation I thought relevant, but I believe it only draws!

44…h5 45.Kd4 Kd7 46.Kd5 Ke7 47.Kc6 Ke6 48.Kxc7 Kxe5

49.Kd7 Kf4 50.Ke7 Kg3 51.Kf7 Kxg2 52.<Kg6> >

You are correct - this is drawn. The weird thing is that I remember seeing Kg6 when I took a look at it last night, but when I started to write out a possible solution in Notepad this morning, I forgot about it completely. So perhaps typing moves in Notepad does not confer such an unfair advantage after all.

<I would appreciate a helpful response to my previous question about a general principle from anyone to whom the puzzle is "obvious" or "not a puzzle at all".>

This discussion certainly establishes that it's possible for reasonably good players to go wrong in this ending and that accuracy is important at all times regardless of rating.

I think it's fair to say that this is technical position that should be won with accurate play, but what part of that makes this "not a puzzle"? CG is doing us a favor by throwing us an endgame once and a while, to enlighten those who suffer from endgame aversion.

John, thanks for the catch!

May-24-09  Criswell: Difficulty "insane" Black to move.

Black will try and play for a draw. The most apparent goal is to get the c-file pawn free and block white's incoming e-file pawn.

Candidates: 44. ...Kd7

This is the only candidate that accomplishes the goal and doesn't put the king in check.

44. ...Kd7 it is.

Time to check.

If my logic is flawed, please let me know. I'm attempting to get better at this game :).

May-24-09  mworld: wow, first ever sunday puzzle i've solved in under 10 seconds. looks like silman's endgame book paid off!
May-24-09  Absentee: 44. ...Kd7 was fairly obvious. Not really a sunday puzzle, this one.
May-24-09  goodevans: <CHESSTTCAMPS>,

To my mind a good puzzle needs to have just one solution. Today’s seems to have at least two: 44 ... Kd7 (definitely) and 44 ... g6 (probably).

I’ve yet to be convinced that 44 ... h5 45 Kd4 Kd7 46 Kd5 c6+ 47 Kc5 Ke6 48 Kxc6 Kxe5 is only a draw (e.g. 49 Kd7 Kf4 50 Ke6 g5). Now if 44 ... h5 is also a win then the presence of three solutions would mean that I would stand by my earlier assertion that today’s position, whilst fairly interesting, doesn’t really constitute a puzzle at all.

Perhaps you could enlighten me how white saves the game after 44 ... h5 45 Kd4 Kd7 46 Kd5 c6+ 47 Kc5 Ke6 48 Kxc6 Kxe5 as I'm genuinely at a loss on this one.

May-24-09  goodevans: Correction to the the above: 44 ... h5 45 Kd4 Kd7 46 Kd5 c6+ 47 Kc5 Ke6 48 Kxc6 Kxe5 49 Kd7 Kf4 isn't enough because of 50 Ke6 g5 51 g3+. However, 49 ... Kf5 is an improvement and I can't see how white saves it after that.
May-24-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <CHESSTTCAMPS> wrote: [snip] John, thanks for the catch! >

No problem, Phil. Let me know anytime you want me to catch another bullet with my chest ;>)

May-24-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  CHESSTTCAMPS: <To my mind a good puzzle needs to have just one solution. Today’s seems to have at least two: 44 ... Kd7 (definitely) and 44 ... g6 (probably).>

By the strictest guidelines of a problemist purist, I would agree with you. Certainly, if I were administering a competitive chess quiz, I would want to use problems with only one solution. But if CG followed those guidelines strictly we would miss a lot of good positions. I'm quite happy having the occasional puzzle that is a good learning exercise and has more than one good answer.

<However, 49 ... Kf5 is an improvement and I can't see how white saves it after that.>

I'm not sure what you have in mind, but after 50.Ke7 g5 51.hxg5 Kxg5 52.Kf7 h4 53.Kg7 Kg4 54.Kg6 Kg3 55.Kg5, black can not win.

May-24-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <CHESSTTCAMPS> wrote: [snip] I'm not sure what you have in mind, but [snip] black can not win. >

That was my conclusion also, after both using the Toga chess engine and understanding the position you refer to. I saw no point in being the one to reiterate my previous statement. Thanks.

May-25-09  goodevans: Thanks, <CHESSTTCAMPS>.

It seems I really was suffering a mental block on this and needed to see some further analysis to understand just how white could save the game.

<johnlspouge ... I saw no point in being the one to reiterate my previous statement.>

I agree. That would have been utterly pointless.

May-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Absentee: 44. ...Kd7 was fairly obvious. Not really a Sunday puzzle, this one.>

The key move is not difficult and, as others have pointed out, is not the only winning move in the given position. The difficulty in the puzzle lies in some of the finesses involved further along in the ending. For example, Black must see that 51...g5+? would be a blunder allowing White to save a draw: 52.Kf5 g4 (52...Kg3 53.Kxg5 h4 54.Kh5=) 53.Kf4 g3 54.Kf5 stalemate.

Even in the final position, because Black has g- and h-pawns opposed by a White g-pawn, the winning process involves technique that, although utterly routine for Korchnoi, is well worth reviewing for those of us whose standard of play is somewhat less exalted. The winning process from the point where Sokolov resigned goes as follows: 53.Kf2 g4 54.Kf1 Kg3 55.Kg1 h4 56.Kh1 Kf2 [not 56...h3? 57.Kg1=] 57.Kh2 [57.g3 h3 (not 57...hxg3? stalemate) 58.Kh2 Kf3 59.Kh1 Kxg3 60.Kg1–+] 57...g3+ 58.Kh3 Kf1 59.Kxh4 Kxg2–+.

May-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: BTW, the position after 51. Kf4 would make a good middle-of-week puzzle. White has only two legal moves: 51. ... g6! (the winning move, as played by Korchnoi) and 51. ... g5+? (a classic wopatzerschach that, as noted in my previous post, would allow Black to draw).
May-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: I continue to be intrigued by the question whether 44. … g6 is, in fact, an alternative winning move in the given puzzle position. Bearing in mind that, as the game actually went, 51. … g6 was an essential tempo move to enable Black to win, 44. … Kd7 is at least the better move technically. Nevertheless, the following line (beginning with 44. … g6) leads to the same position (with White to move in both instances) as occurred in the game after 51. … g6: 44...g6 45.Kd4 Kd7 46.Kd5 c6+ 47.Kc5 Ke6 48.Kxc6 Kxe5 49.Kc5 Kf5 50.Kd5 Kg4 51.Ke4 Kxh4 52.Kf4 h5

So, it seems to me that 44. ... g6 does preserve Black’s winning advantage, but 44. … Kd7 is still the best move (at least in terms of technique) in the given position.

May-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: One final thought re: 44. ... g6:

White’s other plausible try here is 45. h5, but this also seems insufficient to hold, for example: 44...g6 45.h5 Kd7 46.hxg6 hxg6 47.Kd5 c6+ 48.Kd4 Ke6 49.Ke4 c5 50.g3 g5 51.g4 c4 52.Kd4 c3 53.Kxc3 Kxe5 54.Kd3 Kf4 55.Ke2 Kxg4 56.Kf2 Kh3–+.

May-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  CHESSTTCAMPS: <goodevans>
<... It seems I really was suffering a mental block on this ...>

I understand - normally we're used to seeing a king defending in front of an advancing pawn, so our intuition tells us that the white king is too far out of play to defend.

Clearly, I was experiencing some kind of block when I posted the flawed line in the first place.

May-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <CHESSTTCAMPS> wrote: <goodevans> <... It seems I really was suffering a mental block on this ...> I understand >

...and I did not, so I hope you will accept apologies for my irritated response, <goodevans>.

May-25-09  goodevans: <johnlspouge ... so I hope you will accept apologies for my irritated response, <goodevans>.>

Think nothing of it.

Whilst I found the actual solution to this puzzle is a wee bit disappointing for a Sunday, I'm pleased to have learned something from a incorrect sideline.

May-26-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  gofer: I think I may have failed this one, but I would recon that

44 ... h5

forces white to choose which pawns to attack with his king as his pawns are no longer effective. If he chooses the c pawn then black will take the e pawn and make it to the other two first. If he chooses the g/h pawns then the c pawn will promote...

45 Kd4 Kd7
46 Kd5 c6+
47 Kc5 Ke6
48 Kxc6 Kxe5

May-26-09  goodevans: <gofer: I think I may have failed this one, but I would recon that 44 ... h5

forces white to choose which pawns to attack with his king as his pawns are no longer effective. If he chooses the c pawn then black will take the e pawn and make it to the other two first. If he chooses the g/h pawns then the c pawn will promote...

45 Kd4 Kd7
46 Kd5 c6+
47 Kc5 Ke6
48 Kxc6 Kxe5>

You'd think so wouldn't you. I certainly did, but let me save you the bother of picking through three pages of kibitzing to provide you with the refutation, courtesy of <CHESSTTCAMPS>.

<49 Kd7 Kf5> (my suggestion) then <after 50.Ke7 g5 51.hxg5 Kxg5 52.Kf7 h4 53.Kg7 Kg4 54.Kg6 Kg3 55.Kg5, black can not win>

Feb-05-18  Straclonoor: I wanna add some more.
Pawn ending totally won for black.
Best line is:

Analysis by Stockfish 9 64 POPCNT:

1. -+ (-63.08): 43.Ke4 Kc6 44.h4 Kd7 45.h5 Ke6 46.h6 g6 47.Kd4 g5 48.Kc5 Kxe5 49.Kc6 Kf6 50.Kxc7 Kg6 51.Kd7 Kxh6 52.Ke7 Kg7 53.Ke6 Kg6 54.Ke5 Kh5 55.Kf6 Kg4 56.Kg7 h5 57.Kg6 h4 58.Kh6 Kf5 59.Kh5 Kf4 60.Kh6 Kg4 61.Kg6

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