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Fabiano Caruana vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Gashimov Memorial (2014), Shamkir AZE, rd 9, Apr-29
Slav Defense: Quiet Variation. Pin Defense (D12)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  norami: Judging by what the machines say it would take a while for White to grind out the win but Mame was probably disgusted with all this and didn't feel like dragging it out.
Apr-29-14  devere: The final position looks like a draw to me. Why did Black resign?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: The White a pawn means that there is no stalemate trick.

For example if pawns were all gone, this is a tablebase draw with White to move.

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Apr-29-14  devere:

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Nalimov tablebase does say that White can win this in 52 moves. But some slightly different positions are drawn. In my opinion it is ridiculous for Black to resign.

Apr-29-14  Pedro Fernandez: Hi <Devere>. No my friend, the position is lost for black. 56...Rxc3+ (56...Bxc3 is not good) 57.Kb2 Rc3(or 57...Rc4) 58.Rxb7+ and you can continue the variations with ease.
Apr-29-14  Pedro Fernandez:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Easiest way to see why Mamedyarov resigned is that this is a draw

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This is an easy win for White (either side to move in both cases)

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The a pawn can take away the b8 square from the bishop

Apr-29-14  mrfuddington: Yeah guys, it's not going to get to any of those tablebase positions, it looks to me like the bishop has no where to go and is going to be lost in order to avoid checkmate. Basically, whatever black plays, white can eventually play Rxb7+ and then win the bishop.
Apr-29-14  talljack: It's hard to argue with players rated in the high 27s, but I put it in Houdini with a very fast processor and after 20 moves it still showed W +2.6, the same as its initial eval. Maybe I didn't give it enough time, but I'd expect the machine to be very good with so few pieces on.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <talljack> After 20 moves do you still have more than six pieces?

If not, check with a tablebase.

Although Houdini, Stockfish and Komodo are getting very good, they often will not recognize a win on their own unless given massive amounts of time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  norami: At Chessbase they agree that this is not an easy win.
Apr-29-14  csmath: 14. ...dxc4
[14. ...Na6 from Nill Grandelius-Pia Cramling (2009) game makes more sense.]

15. ...Qa6?!
[15. ...Bxd3 16. Bxd3 Qb2?? 17. Rb1 would be really bad idea but 15. ...Nf6 securing d5 square and temporary blocking e4 was certainly better move.]

Exchange of queens changes the dynamic of the position.

18. Be2!?
[Clearly 18. Bd3 looks better because white gets control of h7 square after bishop exchange.]

19. e4?!
[Risky move that will pay off but only because Shark will play impatiently.]

20. ...f5!?
[Too early, 20. ...0-0-0 21. 0-0-0 Rh8 is likelybetter with equal game.]

21. ...a5
[Aggressive play for a win.]

22. ...e5
[Ditto. Shark has been used to confuse lesser player with such an attack but he is not facing average GM here.]

23. exf5 Bf7?
[23. ...Bxf5 24. dxe5 Nxe5 promises equal game.]

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24. Bd1?!
[24. d5! Bxd5 25. Nxd5 Nxd5 26. g4 and white gets supported passer. Why Caruana did not play this is anybody's guess.]

Shark keeps on playing aggressive without accomplishing anything.

31. ...Nd2?
32. Bxd2 Rxd4
33. Ke3 Bc5

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34. Bc3?!

[34. Rac1! is more precise with the same idea 35. Bc3 to follow.]

34. ...Rg3
35. Kf2

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35. ... Rxc3
[At least 35. Rdd3 Kf1 would not cost an exchange. White would have probably repelled the attack and with connected passers played for a win. Shark burns all the bridges now.]

39. f6

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40. ...Bxe2?
[Fatal mistake. 40. ...Re6 41. Kd2 was the only chance to survive.]

Black was still trying to cope until

56. Ree7

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[...Rxc3 57. Kb2 Rc5 (to protect the bishop which could fall after the 58. Rxb7) 58. Rxb7 Kc8 (Ka8 59. Rd7) 59. Ra7 Kb8 60. Re7 Bd8 61. Re8 Rd5 62. a5 and a-pawn decides the game.]

Another fine example of self-destruction by Mamedyarov.

Apr-29-14  csmath: As Ramirez noted that in case of

56. ...Rxc3
57. Kb2 Rc5
58. Rxb7+ Kc8
59. Ra7 Kb8
60. Re7

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60. ...Rd5
61. Re8+ Rd8
62. Rxd8+ Bxd8

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black is faced with the lost ending but one would have expected the fight to continue which is not what Shark had in mind so he simply gave up probably missing some of the moves above.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Yeah, Chessbase says there are a few tricks involved, and as devere noted, some slightly different positions are drawn, but I would expect both Caruana and Mamedyarov to know this ending.

Once you have seen the mechanism, it is easy to avoid the errors that even the strong software falls into.

For example, Komodo will first choose Rf8 in this position.

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Looks fine, but chessplayers have learned that you want to keep the King in lightsquared corner.

You get a position that still looks like a win, but is not.

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Black can draw with Be3 or Bd4 or Ka8

But if in the first position you approach first with the King, it is easier to find the win.

1 Kb3 Kc8 2 Kc4 Bb6 3 Kd3 White cannot be forever prevented from approaching the pawn, which is the main trick, and the reason my Komodo refused to see it as win unless prompted with the right concept.

It is possible to teach yourself better endgame skills by working backwards with tablebases.

Apr-29-14  csmath: Indeed this is not a simple ending at all. Mamedyarov resignation was simply psychological. Given the effort he invested in the game and seeing everything blew in his face ... he just had enough of misery.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: It's simple if you study it.
Apr-29-14  bobthebob: That is the difference between a number 1 player and a number 17 player.

Carlsen was clearly lost at the end of the Radjabov game when those pawns started rolling, but kept playing to have Radjabov prove he can bring the point home. I expect Carlsen felt a lot worse than Mamedyarov.

I remember a top game in which one player kept playing to see if the other remembered how to mate with K+B.

Apr-29-14  talljack: <Tamar> No, a pair of rooks were traded. And oddly enough in a variation where I forced White to capture Black's c-pawn, the eval dropped lower, to around 1.0. The other variations (W 2.6) I just let the machine run.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <talljack> If Houdini traded a pair of rooks, then it would be within the six man tablebase, and you can check it for sure.

After you made your post, I let Komodo try, and it also played into a draw. I only let it go to 31 ply, so I do not know if it would correct eventually.

The point is that this ending used to be taught. I remember the basics: approach with the King, and do not take the Rook off the seventh rank.

If you do that, Black has no other trick than stalemate in the corner. Once the King captures c6, you advance the a pawn and take away the a7 square at the moment when the bishop leaves b8.

Apr-29-14  csmath: It is taught only in comprehensive ending studies. I just checked Averbach and sure enough - it is there. But I think many master level players would messed it up. But then of course black has even a bigger chance to mess it up.
May-02-14  talljack: <Tamar> Thanks for the link. I'll take a look.
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