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Gata Kamsky vs Etienne Bacrot
MTel Masters (2006), Sofia, Bulgaria, rd 2, May-12
Spanish Game: Closed Variations (C84)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-12-06  Confuse: didnt bacrot just lose his knight at the end ? whats all this talk about getting a draw? o _ O

go kamsky, i dont like ur style but i hope u give a good fight vs anand tomorrow.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Bacrot is by far the strongest player in more than 75 years to lose such an endgame...>

Yes, but Benjamin, Ftacnik, Lalic, Movsesian and Kharitonov are all fine players...also, the database must be quite incomplete, since it has only three examples before 1978!

May-12-06  muzzy: If Bacrot held his end of the draw, then i would have gotten the pick 3 correct and won 2575 on chessbookie, leading me to 5th place!
May-12-06  niceforkingmove: Koltanowski could have drawn with black in that endgame blindfolded :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eric Schiller: I'll have to follow up on this on the weekend when I have some time, because 10.2 is one of the most complex areas, and it played a major role in the final exam at the FIDE Arbiter's course in Gibraltar. In this game, there were many points with serious winning chances in the R v. N endgame because the knight found itself on uncomfortable squares. With the king on the rim, it clearly does not qualify for 10.2, because there are mating tricks.

In Menorca 1996 (World Youth) there was a case where the defender had king in the center and was clearly keeping it there, and keeping thre knight safe. She claimed a draw, which was denied at the time but she won on appeal. In that game, her opponent was clearly not making any progress at all.

I'll have to ask Stewart Reuben for his opinion on this example. We don't always agree, but he always has a good basis for his decisions.

Keep in mind that 10.2 only applies in quickplay finishes, but that's what MTEL uses. And I like it, though I prefer a small increment in the final control. But 10.2 is one area where an Arbiter must really work, and it really helps to be at least a master.

May-13-06  Catfriend: <Eric Schiller> Thanks:) A presence of a well-recognized arbiter will certainly help!

<All> You seem to miss my point. Obviously, when mishandled, this position could be lost for Black. The point is that given enough time, Bacrot would surely find the way to the 1/2. Thus, his defeat is only a result of his time-trouble. Suppose we have a drawn K+R+p vs. K+R endgame, where the defending side has 40 seconds. It could be lost by normal means (the same way Bacrot lost), but only due to the lack of time.

<MTal> Read the rules. It's not about <I don't have time so I don't want to play on>. It's about <Everybody in this tournament, me included, could draw this, if we ignore the clock.> You could disagree with the FIDE decision, but that's not the issue right now.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eric Schiller: The question is not whether it can be drawn with best play. The superior force is entitled to try to win the position by setting up tactics or zugzwang. As long as this can be done, it doesn't matter how many attempts are parried. The defender has to prove that the position is easily defended.

The clear 10.2 situations are things like bishops of opposite colors with the superior side having one extra pawn, for which the bishop can be sacrificed. Or positions where stalemate is forced. The goal is to avoid one player winning just on the clock when the position should certainly be drawn. The Arbiter can reserve judgement, instruction the players to play on but still able to declare a draw after a flag falls. Obviously, if the arbiter isn't certain, that's the way to go.

Potential FIDE Arbiters are grilled on these cases, because you can't look them up (though FIDE, like professional sports, should keep records of all 10.2 positions IMHO.

May-13-06  percyblakeney: <Yes, but Benjamin, Ftacnik, Lalic, Movsesian and Kharitonov are all fine players>

Absolutely, and Benjamin has lost the ending twice! Anyway many of the few occasions where it wasn't a draw began with a bad position for the knight side, but that sure doesn't mean that it has to be a draw.

Kamsky did well to win this, and I of course don't think he did anything wrong. This type of ending was much discussed not long ago, when Nakamura was criticised for trying to win it:

Nakamura vs Zhu Chen, 2004

<what a jerk. no respect>

<despise this guy. no etiquette>

<this is obviously a DEAD DRAW even for a novice>

<Personally, I will consider this as a lack of sportsmanship>

<bad sportsmanship by Nakamura>

...and many more examples :-) A recent game where this ending occurred is Bareev vs Shirov, 2006

I don't know what point I'm trying to make, if any, but it was interesting to see that Kamsky could win this game...

May-13-06  percyblakeney: ...and Chessbase on the ending:

<The rook and pawn endgame they reached "should" be drawn, but it turned into an adventure. Several times it looked like a simple draw, but Bacrot avoided the simple and Kamsky kept up the pressure. It came all the way down to rook versus knight with no pawns! This is tricky but usually drawn at the master level but both players were terribly short on time (no time increment in Sofia) and reaching the seventh hour of play, it was far from tablebase perfect. It was drawn, then lost, then drawn, then finally Kamsky put the hammer down after the Frenchman's final mistake.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It shows that, although you can't keep your talent in a little bottle, with some hard work talent will show through. Kamsky shows what a great talent he is.
May-13-06  technical draw: Rule of thumb for rook vs. knight endgame with no pawns: Go after the knight and forget about the opposing King.
May-14-06  dakgootje: So if youve got in such an ending the knight and king, its mostly about keeping them together and if possible go to the center?
May-14-06  euripides: <79..Kf1?? instead of 79..Nh4+ = is particularly interesting, because the "principle" tells you to keep your knight in contact with your king, while in reality here you have to move the knight away.> Glad to hear even <acirce> finds this tricky ! Neither player saw the point immediately, since Svidler missed the win first time and Bacrot then repeated the mistake. Mueller and Lamprecht use an Arab endgame study from 1140 to warn about the danger of the knight being on g2 (b7 in their case). But I think the ideas in that study are different from this game. Kamsky's double zugzwang on moves 82 and 85 -whether or not it's a new idea - sheds light on this quite frequent endgame, and future textbooks should include it.
May-15-06  FHBradley: Why is this variation of Ruy Lopez
(7. ... 0-0 8. h3 Bb7 9. d3) currently so popular among super-GMs? Is there something special about it, as opposed to more traditional lines, or have these -- I meant the traditional lines -- been analyzed to equality? Or is this just a matter of fashion?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It seems that everyone is so afraid of facing the Marshall that anti-Marshall lines like 8 h3 have taken over.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Yes, and it doesn't seem that white is scoring very well with the anti-marshall lines. Maybe the Four Knights will have a renaissance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Maybe the Four Knights will have a renaissance.> Doesn't sound promising, but I am getting my head handed to me on Gameknot in that opening right now.

It does seem that if White is going to play d3 against the "normal" Ruy Lopez, there will be a greater focus on 4. d3 against the Berlin, in place of the constant 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5 d4 Nd6 etc. we see now.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Or why not a comeback of 3 Bc4 or even 2 Nc3?
May-15-06  MATE101: Is there any way to print the board showing the final position in the "Gata Kamsky vs Etienne Bacrot" game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <This type of ending was much discussed not long ago, when Nakamura was criticised for trying to win it>

I agree that the comments you quote are stupid, but it should be said that it is much easier to play it for the defending side with the king+knight in the middle of the board, like in that game. Even I would have held a draw against Nakamura there, I'm fairly sure... Bacrot had a much more difficult task although he too would probably have saved it if only MTel used increments, as ought to be standard.

May-16-06  percyblakeney: <it is much easier to play it for the defending side with the king+knight in the middle of the board>

Absolutely, and looking through some other games with this ending many don't even try to win it from a favourable position, so Bacrot's loss can be "blamed" on the time control. GM Marin's annotations are interesting to look through, he gives five <?> to the players between moves 79 and 89:

Jan-05-09  zdigyigy: <capablancafan> Lets see you win this end game against a 2600 hundred grandmaster and then you can talk about mastering endgame analysis.
Jan-05-09  WhiteRook48: wow. either you get your knight taken or you get your knight pinned and taken anyway. Why did Bacrot blunder? Was it time pressure?
Apr-21-09  WhiteRook48: or where was the mistake?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Plaskett: The ending of R vs N occured between Hebden and Basman in an Allegro Finish of a game at a weekend event in Edinburgh 1983. Spectating, and noting that, as here, black had just underpromoted with check to avoid mate, I told both players that the position was a book draw. But one sideīs flag had just fallen!
The arbiter ruled it drawn.

Hodgson insisted that another arbiter, in 1989, was right to rule Suba the winner when I had two knights vs his pawn (he was white and the pawn was at h6) when my flag fell. I had offered a draw only a move or two earlier. Julian cited a recent instance where he had played Nunn, had a Rook vs Nunnīs Knight, and had lost on time when Nunn had but 6 seconds remaining. There seemed no consensus on whether arbiter David Eustace had correctly ruled against my appeal that the game with GM Suba be called a draw. IM Pein later told me, "MANY people agreed with it." IM Hartston wrote in The Independent that when setting the rules for The Master Game GM tournament, some years earlier, their first rule was, "We are all gentlemen." He added, "There were never any disputes."

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