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Ni Hua vs Zhou Jianchao
Hainan Danzhou GM (2012), Danzhou CHN, rd 1, May-29
Sicilian Defense: Paulsen. Bastrikov Variation (B47)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-02-12  twinlark: Fascinating endgame.

After <53. Nc4>:

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White is threatening Nd6-f7 picking up a second pawn as the Black King can't defend both b6 and f7 from the Knight. Black's solution was to simplify into a lost K+P ending, a pawn down, by exchanging the last two pieces on the board with <53...Bxc4 54. Kxc4>.

It's understandable that he didn't want to lose another pawn and be stuck in a seemingly lost K+N+6P vs K+B+4P endgame, but to waltz into a clear forced loss of a K+5P vs K+4P endgame seems a bit desperate

However, the alternative of keeping an active bishop seems to put up a more resistance as the Black King can guard the queen side and the centre, while the LSB can guard the King side and contribute to the defense of the approaches in the centre, eg:

<53...Bf3 54. Nd6 Bd1 55. Nxf7 Bg4 (55...Bxa4 56. h5 ) 56. Nd6 Kd7>:

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but then the basic plan is to play his knight back to <57. Nc4> and the attack on b6 combined with the plan to move the Knight to e3 to boost the push to d5 will cause Black's position to collapse completely. No wonder Black opted for the tempo-play subtleties of the King and pawn ending.

But the whole mess came around so unnecessarily on the last move of the time control. White has just played <40. Nb3>:

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and Black surrendered his d-pawn with <40...d4+>, presumably to gain mobility for a bad bishop. It not only conceded the pawn, but gave White the pawn majority in the middle and on the king side, and conceded the c4 square to the Knight, which is the game winner.

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