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Sidney Norman Bernstein vs Arthur William Dake
US Championship (1936), New York, NY USA, rd 4, Apr-29
Queen's Gambit Declined: Vienna Variation (D37)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-23-10  sfm: Weird. You don't have to move much beyond beginner level to know that this position is drawn with White to move and won for White with Black to move.

click for larger view

So what goes on with the last 15 moves of this game? There must be some reason for not drawing at move 55. Maybe the game was played in front of spectators, some of them entry-level, who'd otherwise have wondered why Black accepted a draw. Any other suggestions?

Pity for Dake, for a player of his class 48.-,Rxd1+?? is a huge blunder.

Premium Chessgames Member
  lost in space: As promised I checked the pawn ending with more time. It is won for black.

click for larger view

If you don't believe analyse or check this database.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Possibly Dake saw that he missed the win after having the advantage for most of the game, and was just to stubborn to admit it was now only a draw.
Apr-23-10  JASAHA: For what it's worth, I let Jester play black (15 sec/move) and drew his.

JESTER 1.10e by Stephane NGUYEN
(registered for

1.Rd3-d1 Rf2xf5
2.g4xf5 Ra1xd1+
3.Ke1xd1 Kg2-f3
4.f5-f6 Kf3-e4
5.Kd1-e2 Ke4-f4
6.Ke2-f2 Kf4-e5
7.Kf2-e3 Ke5xf6
8.Ke3-f4 Kf6-g6
9.Kf4-g4 f7-f5+
10.Kg4-f4 Kg6-f6
11.Kf4-f3 Kf6-g5
12.Kf3-g3 f5-f4+
13.Kg3-f3 Kg5-f5
14.Kf3-f2 Kf5-g4
15.Kf2-g2 f4-f3+
16.Kg2-f2 Kg4-f4
17.Kf2-f1 Kf4-e5
18.Kf1-e1 Ke5-d4
19.Ke1-f2 Kd4-e4
20.Kf2-f1 Ke4-e3
21.Kf1-e1 f3-f2+
22.Ke1-f1 Ke3-f3

Apr-23-10  thegoldenband: It's interesting to me that players who are far stronger than I am, like <dzechiel>, took a while to see 48...Rf1+. I spotted it almost immediately (~30 sec.) and immediately felt sure it was a win.

But that may reflect my own biases since I've studied K+P endings far more than any of the other types of endgame: when all you have is a hammer, etc.

Apr-23-10  VincentL: In this "difficult" position, I see two possible ways to start.

The rooks must be exchanged, but how?

If black starts with with Rxd1 or Rxf5, once the rooks are off, the white king will be on d1, the white pawn on f5, and the black king and pawn on the squares they are on now.

Or, black can start with Rf1+, and after the rook exchanges the white king will again be on d1, but the black king will now be on f1.

This second method definitely works, since black can easily capture the white pawn and maintain the opposition - it is a standard K + P v K win.

With the first method, it seems to me that black can also maintain the opposition - but since this is a puzzle, I am guessing that only the second method works.

I cannot see any other plausible winning tries.

I am out of time and am going to check.

Apr-23-10  VincentL: Ah... white has the resource f6 with the first method. Missed this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: How to simplify in such a way that black wins?

The main idea is that black wants to reduce to a K vs. K+P ending such that black can gain the opposition.

To be assured of gaining the opposition, black wants two things: (1) to keep his king in front of his pawn, and (2) to retain the option of advancing his f7 pawn either 1 or 2 squares.

Understanding this objective, it's not too hard to see that black doesn't want to exchange rooks on f5, which would put both pawns on the f-file. The white pawn can then (at some point) play f6!, thus preventing black from advancing his f-pawn 2 squares with his king in front.

Fortunately, black can force the exchange of the Rf5 on f1 with 48...Rf1+! 49.Rxf1 Rxd1+! 50.Kxd1 Kxf1

From this position, it's clear that the black king can move up the f-file, eat the white pawn, and keep his king in front of his pawn as well as the option to move 1 or 2 squares:

For example, it might continue: 51.Kd2 Kf2 52.g5 Kf3

And now:

[a] 53.Kd3 Kf4 54.Kd4 Kxg5 55.Ke5 Kg4! 56.Ke5 f5! <2-square advance wins> 0-1

[b] 53.Ke1 Kf4 54.Kf2 Kxg5 55.Kg3 <white gets opposition, but> f6! <black "wastes" tempo with 1-square advance to get it back> 0-1

Apr-23-10  tacticalmonster: Just studied K and P ending this week so I got it within 7 minutes

at first I calculated the consequence of the capture:

48 Rxd8+ 2 Kxd8 Rxf5 3 gxf5 Kf3 4 f6!- Black cannot get anywhere

But then I realized this puzzle was about opposition, superior Black king position and the position of the weak white pawn. So:

48 Rf1!+ 49 Rxf1 Rxd1+ 50 Kxd1 Kxf1- Black king had the opposition and White had a g pawn instead of a f pawn. Play can continue:

51 g5 Kf2 52 Kd2 Kf3 53 Kd3 Kf4 54 Kd4 Kxg5 55 Kd3 Kg4- A winning king ending

Apr-23-10  wals: 48...Rf1+ 49.Rxf1 Rxd1+ 50.Kxd1 Kxf1

Nalimov Endgame Tablebases

Kd2 lose in 24
g5 lose in 24
Kc2 lose in 23
Kc1 lose in 21

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Got this almost instantly, but I must say it's very pretty and quite unusual.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <wals> I asked this question last night; maybe you can help.

Seeing as 48...Rf1+ is a forced win for black, then what was the losing move? Was it 45 Ke1 (maybe Kh5+ was better), or was it something earlier? Thanks

Apr-23-10  TheaN: <Jimfromprovidence>

Take note that, if you are referring to <wals> using endgame tablebases, these in fact get active only after 49.Kxd1, as they only read six or fewer pieces. At that point the game text is drawn, and in the event of 48....Rf1 49.Rxf1 Rxd1, we know it's a win. You should unleash some engines to check whether they can find the fatal mistake. It seems to me Black is already calling the shots with his c-pawn as earlier as move 31. But of course, I don't know that for sure.

Apr-23-10  TheaN: Eh, doh, that pawn is immediately lost the next move: I mean the active piece position (was looking at some variations with the c-pawn still otb ^^).
Apr-23-10  wals: <Jimfromprovidence>

Rybka (with short calculations) :-

41.d5 -1.41 (better was Re5 -0.76)

43.Rxd5 -2.71 (better was Ra4 -1.41)

On 43...Rde2+ Rybka increased the deficit to -3.02 up to move 47,and then -5.04 for 48.Rd1, there being no other move!

Apr-23-10  chessgolfer: Seemed a bit easy for a Friday but maybe I was tuned in. A text book example of correct play with Kings in opposition.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <wals> <TheaN> Thanks.

<wals> So 43 Rxd5 was the move that gave black a piece edge, allowing black's d rook to check on e2. Interesting!

Apr-23-10  WhiteRook48: i knew it was Rf1+
Apr-23-10  randomsac: Fairly straightforward for a Friday. The black king gains the opposition and the win by deflecting the king away from the rook to liquidate material.
Apr-23-10  caissafan1963: No one seems to have mentioned White's best try after 50. ... Kxf1, which is 51. g5! with the idea of sacrificing on g6 after the Black king gets near, allowing the White king to maneuver in front of the pawn and trying for the stalemate idea in the corner...
Apr-23-10  sugarmike: lost in space: As promised I checked the pawn ending with more time. It is won for black.

click for larger view
If you don't believe analyse or check this database.

it is a won game for black

Apr-23-10  sugarmike: Black won 50. Kf3 51.Kd2 Kf4 and so on. its not that so hard, any 1400 player know this. zugzwang extra move of his pawn
Apr-23-10  mortigi tempo: Good tactic for 1 min chess. Surprised someone missed this in classical time controls.

<caissafan1963> Nice find!

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheBish: S Bernstein vs Dake, 1936

Black to play (48...?) "Difficult"

Forgot to do this earlier, so making it short (almost the next day).

Black wins with a key tempo after 48...Rf1+! 49. Rxf1 (forced) Rxd1+ 50. Kxd1 Kxf1 and Black will win the g-pawn and queen his f-pawn. Time to check it out before I turn into a pumpkin!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I was sure this was only a draw as all rook exchanges seemed to lead to draw despite the Trebuchet. Hard to calculate these endings though.
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