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Jan Timman vs Jan Smeets
Staunton Memorial (2007), rd 7, Aug-13
Semi-Slav Defense: Meran. Wade Variation (D47)  ·  0-1


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sac: 43...Rxd2+ PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: Examine all moves that Smeets.
Jun-20-17  WorstPlayerEver: Smeets could have been really good, but he didn't like the chess style of life. He was pro for a year. First he combined his economy study with chess.
Jun-20-17  AlicesKnight: 43...Rxd2+; 44.Kxd2 b2 looks to force 45.Kc2, when ...Nb4+ wins the R. Black will then need to get the K over to help the N stop the white RP.
Jun-20-17  Walter Glattke: White gets a pawn more with 45.Rxe6+
Kxe6 46.Kc2, but also lose.
Jun-20-17  Iwer Sonsch: 43...Rxd2+ 44.Kxd2 b2 45.Kc2 (Rb6 Nxb6), and now the simple 45...Nb4+ 46.Kxb2 Nxa6 rather than 45...Nc3 46.Rb6!.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black has a knight for a bishop.

The white king would control de promotion of the b-pawn by moving to c2. This would create the possibility of a knight fork. Therefore, 43... Rxd2+ 44.Kxd2 b2 45.Kc2 (45.Rb6 Nxb6 wins) 45... Nb4+ 46.Kxb2 Nxa6 - + [n vs P].

For example, 47.Kb3 Kf5 48.f3 Kf4 49.Kc4 Ke3 50.Kb5 Nb8 51.Kb6 (51.a6 Nxa6 52.Kxa6 Kxe3 wins) 51... Kxd4 52.Kb7 Nd7 53.Kc7 (53.a6 Nc5+ and 54... Nxa6 wins) 53... Nc5 followed by a pawn roll.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: <Jimfromprovidence: It's worth analyzing 43...Rc4. Might be the strongest move.>

I saw the knight fork and didn't even thing of 43... Rc4. This move can also end up with a knight fork and win the d-pawn in the process (44.Bc1 Rxd4+ 45.Bd2? Rxd2+, etc.).

Jun-20-17  saturn2: I had ..Rc4 in mind but settled on ..RxB when the fork Nb4+ sprang to my eyes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <tpstar: Examine all moves that Smeets.> Nice one! ;)

I have a win, but it will take time Cecil John Seddon Purdy

Jun-20-17  cocker: Engines prefer 43 ... Rc4, followed possibly by a sequence of knight checks.
Jun-20-17  morfishine: <43...Rxd2+> followed by <44...b2> now White only has <45.Kc2> to stop the pawn, but this walks into the fork <45...Nb4+>


Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: 43...Rxd2?! is not actually a good move in such a position. It is clever and quite easy to find. I saw it but I found it hard to visualize an easy win for Black. Black can win but the ending is not trivial.

Possibly it was easy for Timman but it was worth White playing on, there is nothing to lose. In some lines Black comes close to losing or it is a draw. Timman made things hard for himself.

Much better and easier for engines and humans is and was 43. ... Rc4! which is completely winning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I meant easy for Smeets. I for some reason assumed it was Timman who won. Timman would have known the ending was lost but the way Smeets played gave him a chance. He should have battled on for about 10 moves to see how the game went...
Jun-20-17  mel gibson: The computer diesn't agree as the pawn can't be promoted: The correct move is
43... Rc2-c4

.. Rc4 (♖c2-c4 ♗d2-c1 ♘d5-c3+ ♔d1-d2 ♘c3-e4+ ♔d2-e3 ♖c4xc1 ♖a6-b6 ♖c1-e1+ ♔e3-d3 ♘e4xf2+ ♔d3-c3 ♖e1-a1 ♖b6-b5 ♘f2-e4+ ♔c3-b2 ♖a1-a4 ♔b2xb3 ♖a4xd4 ♖b5-b8 ♘e4-c5+ ♔b3-c3 e6-e5 ♖b8-b5 ♘c5-e4+ ♔c3-b3 ♔f6-f5 h2-h3 ♖d4-d6 g2-g4+ ♔f5-e6) +4.65/22 166)

score for black +4.65 depth 22

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black sacs the rook and uses a fork threat to prevent white from stopping the pawn from queening.
Jun-20-17  petemccabe: Timman Smeets his match.

I can't be the first person to suggest this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: 43...Rc4 forces 44 Bc1, below, to prevent 44...b2

click for larger view

Then black wins as in the line presented by <mel gibson>

But the reason it forces 44 Bc1 is the neat and not so obvious part that it prevents 44 Ra8, seeing 45 Rb8.

If 43...Rc4 44 Ra8, then after 44...b2 45 Rb8 black wins with 45...Nb4!

click for larger view

That's why the black rook cannot be on c7 or c8.

Jun-20-17  NBZ: <Jimfromprovidence> Nice! It's also kind of key (in the final picture that you posted) that the White king is on the back rank and not, say, on e2. This means that Black can queen with check. Otherwise White could play Bxb4 b1=Q Be7+! and draws.
Jun-20-17  NBZ: <Richard Taylor>: Right, it's a surprisingly tricky ending for Black. If White gets a position where his king can penetrate into the queenside and support the a-pawn push, it's very hard for Black to win. From the final position:

45. Kc2 Nb4+ 46. Kxb2 Nxa6 47. Kc3! (Ka3 has no hope: Black plays Ke7 Ka4 Nc7! Kb4 Kd6 and the king is cut off from the a-pawn).

Some things I tried for Black:
A] 47. ... e5 48. dxe5! (if d5, Black will get a passed pawn with the k-side majority). Kxe5 49. Kc4 Kd6 50. Kb5 Nc7 51. Kb6 and Black will need both king and knight to hold the a-pawn at bay. Maybe it's a win for White via some very deep zugzwang but I don't see it...White has a lot of tempos since he can just shuffle his king b5-b6-b5.

B] 47. ... Ke7 48. Kc4 Kd6 49. Kb5 Nc7+ 50. Kb6. This is a little better for Black because all he has to do is win the d4 pawn, but that's surprisingly hard. Let's try 50. ... Nd5+ and now:

B1] 51. Kb7? Nb4 52. Kb6 Kd5 53. Kb5 Nc6! wins (if a6 Nxd4 comes with check; if Kb6 Nxa5 and Kxd4).

B2] 51. Kb5 is the line where I haven't found anything clear for Black yet!

Jun-20-17  zb2cr: Satisfying little combination. 43. ... Rxd2+; 44. Kxd2, b2 and it seems Black can Queen easily, as 45. Kc2 fails against the fork 45. ... Nb4+, and 45. Rb6, Nxb6; 47. axb6, b1=Q and it's over.

However, it's not the end of the story, as pointed out by several posters, including <al wazir>, <Richard Taylor>, <mel gibson>, <Jimfromprovidence>, and <NBZ>.

Jun-20-17  Iwer Sonsch: <mel gibson> A more interesting response to <43...Rc4 44.Bc1 Nc3+ 45.Kd2 Ne4+> is <46.Kd1 Nxf2+ 47.Ke2 Rxc1 48.Rb6 Rc2+> and win with the superior material.

Good Thursday spoiler, just too early and indecicive.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <NBZ> <Nice! It's also kind of key (in the final picture that you posted) that the White king is on the back rank and not, say, on e2. This means that Black can queen with check. Otherwise White could play Bxb4 b1=Q Be7+! and draws.>

Kudos to you as well. The importance you noted about promoting with check never went through my mind.

Jun-21-17  crwynn: I had some concerns about the knight ending but decided it must be won, as did White. NBZ's line 45.Kc2 Nb4+ 46.Kxb2 Nxa6 47.Kc3 Ke7 48.Kc4 Kd6 49.Kb5 Nc7+ 50.Kb6 Nd5+ 51.Kb5 is interesting, but seems to fail.

If the WK stays on b5, he can never go a6 or ...Nc7+ forces a pawn ending that black wins by a country mile. But if the WK hides on c4 or a4 to push through a6, then he no longer threatens b6 so still ...Nc7 with ...Kd5 to follow.

White can hardly hold out shuffling c3-d3 (51.Kb5 g5 52.Kc4 Nc7 53.Kd3 Kd5 54.Kc3 Na6 55.Kd3 Nb4+ 56.Kc3 Nc6! 54.a6 Nxd4 and wins: 57.a7? Nb5+) so White's only defense is to tough it out on b5, keep his pawn on a5 and try to put his opponent in zugzwang: 51.Kb5 g5 52.h3 (52.g4 f5 53.f3 f4 54.h3 h6) 52...h5 53.g3 f5 54.f4 (54.f3 g4! is a well-known trick) gf h4 and Black has more spare pawn moves.

Jun-21-17  NBZ: <crywnn>: Very interesting line. I had sort of casually assumed (after 51. Kb5) that White has as many pawn moves as Black does, but you are completely right that Black can put White into zugzwang (despite having to go first!).
Jun-21-17  crwynn: Thanks. I should point out that the line 51.Kb5 g5 52.h3 h5 53.g3 f5 54.f3 g4 is not mutual queening: if 55.fg h4 f4 57.Kc4 Nb4!, and Black queens with check. But after 55.hg f4 h4 57.g5 h3 58.g6 Nf6 the knight watches g8 and the new queen a8.
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