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Francisco Vallejo Pons vs Magnus Carlsen
GRENKE Chess Classic (2019), Karlsruhe GER, rd 2, Apr-21
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Neo-Archangelsk Variation (C78)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 9 OF 9 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-21-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: According to Stockfish, the losing move is 65 Kf1. White can hold with Ng3, Bh7, or Bb1 which all evaluate to -0.5-0.6. After 65 Kf1 the evaluation is -4.04. Unfortunately too subtle for me.
Apr-21-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  parmetd: <Breunor> @#$%*&!#. Stockfish doesn't understand this endgame. Luckily, we have known it was lost since entered this endgame on move 50 because it is in the six piece tablebases.
Apr-21-19  devere: <Breunor: According to Stockfish, the losing move is 65 Kf1>

R+B vs B+N with opposite colored bishops is in principle winnable. The only limitation is the 50 move rule. With same colored bishops it is a draw! I wonder if Magnus Carlsen knew that all along. I certainly didn't, until I saw this game.

Apr-21-19  Kaspablanca: Morphy oponents(with some exceptions of course) were so weak he had to give knight or rook odds, Morphy simply was 75 to 100 years ahead of his time in chess understanding, Steinitz would be a worthy and a dangerous oponent,back to this game the move that could save Vallejo was Kf2 but niether him nor Carlsen saw the stalemate resource.
Apr-21-19  frogbert: The losing move was 48. Bc6?, because the endgame after 48. Rxg3! Bxg3 49. Kxg3 is in fact a draw when black has R+N (instead of R+B) against B+N - unless the inferior side loses material immediately, of course.

Did I know before this game? Obviously not.

Apr-21-19  frogbert: <back to this game the move that could save Vallejo was Kf2>

The position is still won within 50 moves to next capture, technically. Carlsen finding the best response to the "stalemate trap" is a different matter.

Apr-21-19  Kaspablanca: <frogbert>Anyways Kf2 was the move Vallejo had to do since Ke1 loses by force as Carlsen showed.
Apr-21-19  Kaspablanca: I mean Kg2
Apr-21-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  parmetd: Carlsen said in the press conference the whole time he knew the opp bishop position was winnable. He didn't know exactly how.
Apr-21-19  devere: <frogbert: The losing move was 48. Bc6?, because the endgame after 48. Rxg3! Bxg3 49. Kxg3 is in fact a draw when black has R+N (instead of R+B) against B+N >

I believe that you are correct. Giving up a piece instead of the exchange with 48.Bc6 g2 49.Ne3 Ra3 50.Kxg2 Rxe3 is also a tablebase loss. This endgame is a post-graduate course in chess.

Apr-22-19  Fanques Fair: Why not on earth 33- Nxb7 or Bxb7 ? Actually I didnīt like Black's opening, even if the computer show equality, and White , having aimed 2 of his pieces at the b7 pawn, could have really considered taking it. It seems that the psychological burden of playing against the World Champion is too much for so many grandmasters.
Apr-22-19  MrMelad: <GM Maybe: @#$%*!& Magnus! Some guys are obviously trying to make a deity out of him. Aren't you overreacting with that???>

I don't think so but let me know what you think.

Apr-22-19  woldsmandriffield: >>frogbert<< & >>devere<< Endings like this one are exceptionally rare and general principles have to be used to assess them since tablebase accuracy is beyond human capability.


click for larger view

I agree that 48 Rxg3 was the best practical chance. The reason resides in the fact that R+B vs B+N is 'very difficult' to hold with opposite coloured Bishops. In comparison, R+N vs B+N is 'just difficult' to hold, ie the percentage winning chances are appreciably lower for the attacker but the defender still runs significant risks.

Apr-22-19  woldsmandriffield: It should be added that the poor positioning of White's King (already boxed into a corner) is another nail in his coffin.
Apr-22-19  Monocle: <Morphy simply was 75 to 100 years ahead of his time in chess understanding>

He was at most 30 years ahead of his time.

Paul Morphy is like classic movies from the 1940s. Put on a pedestal in their time, when there wasn't anything better, and then mindlessly venerated ever since.

Apr-22-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Monocle: <Morphy simply was 75 to 100 years ahead of his time in chess understanding>

He was at most 30 years ahead of his time.

Paul Morphy is like classic movies from the 1940s. Put on a pedestal in their time, when there wasn't anything better, and then mindlessly venerated ever since.>

A more binocular view of Morphy's games is that they're consistently highly entertaining. If you mean that computers have pointed out some weaknesses in his play, personally I don't really care about that, it doesn't take away from the entertainment value for an amateur so long as he doesn't make obvious blunders. The (regrettable) days of flawless computer-only chess will come soon enough.

Apr-22-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <frogbert: The losing move was 48. Bc6?, because the endgame after 48. Rxg3! Bxg3 49. Kxg3 is in fact a draw when black has R+N (instead of R+B) against B+N - unless the inferior side loses material immediately, of course.

Did I know before this game? Obviously not.>

It's worth noting that in this saving line for White, 49.Kxg3! also deserves an exclamation mark, because the other capture - 49.Nxg3? - is actually shown by TB to be losing quite quickly after 49...Kg5!... which illustrates the potential dangers of the RN v BN as well. (Though these endgames indeed tend to be both theoretically & practically preferable for the defender to RB v BN with bishops of opposite color.)

Apr-22-19  Olavi: P Nikolic vs Korchnoi, 1987 is the best known example. At the time there was of course no certainty about the general outcome.
Apr-22-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I had read that R+B v. opposite-colored B+N was a win (to my great surprise - so much for Fine's dictum that in pawnless endgames one usually has to be a rook up to win), but it could take up to 223 moves or some such. Amazing that Carlsen was able to achieve a win OTB within the requisite 50 moves.
Apr-22-19  Olavi: With this material some extremely articial positions can take close to a hundred moves to win. Those over 200-move monsters are seven piece endings. You can study them here https://lichess.org/blog/W3WeMyQAAC...

https://syzygy-tables.info/endgames

Apr-24-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Oh, man! If 48.NxP, 48...N-g5+ 49.K-h4,R-h2#. What an endgame virtuoso.
Apr-26-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: RB v BN is usually a win if the bishops are on opposite colours. I put it on an online endgame tablebase http://www.k4it.de/?topic=egtb&lang..., and as soon as that configuration was reached, it was a win. Although with best play, the base said it was 54 moves, but a White piece was captured on move 24 so no 50-move rule save. It's a pity that this tablebase doesn't give the depth to conversion instead of only depth to mate. Both these players mostly played optimal moves from the start position, so credit to both of these great players.
Apr-30-19  Damenlaeuferbauer: Remembering the fact, that 15 moves according to the 50-moves rule have been already played, GM Francisco Vallejo Pons could have continued his heroic fight for a draw with 66.Kg2!!,Rf2+ 67.Kh1!,Rxe2 68.Bd3+!,Kxd3 and stalemate. Even for an elite GM very, very difficult to see in the heat of the fight and the fear to lose the game. You need a head like a calculator, a body like a refrigerator and nerves of steel.
Apr-30-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Damenlaeuferbauer: Remembering the fact, that 15 moves according to the 50-moves rule have been already played, GM Francisco Vallejo Pons could have continued his heroic fight for a draw with 66.Kg2!!,Rf2+ 67.Kh1!,Rxe2 68.Bd3+!,Kxd3 and stalemate. Even for an elite GM very, very difficult to see in the heat of the fight and the fear to lose the game. You need a head like a calculator, a body like a refrigerator and nerves of steel.>

It's true that 66.Kg2 would have been a much better defensive try than what Vallejo actually did (Ke1) because of this stalemate trap, but it still wouldn't guarantee a draw - Black doesn't have to take the piece. Tablebase says 40 moves to mate at that point, but it's only 25 moves to a piece capture with best play, so Black can certainly still make it within the 50-move rule, though it would have been considerably more difficult than in the game.

<Jonathan Sarfati: RB v BN is usually a win if the bishops are on opposite colours. I put it on an online endgame tablebase http://www.k4it.de/?topic=egtb&lang..., and as soon as that configuration was reached, it was a win. Although with best play, the base said it was 54 moves, but a White piece was captured on move 24 so no 50-move rule save. It's a pity that this tablebase doesn't give the depth to conversion instead of only depth to mate. Both these players mostly played optimal moves from the start position, so credit to both of these great players.>

There's a more sophisticated tablebase on the lichess website - https://syzygy-tables.info - which does show what you call "depth to conversion," as DTZ (distance to zeroing - of the 50-move rule, that is).

With regard to the quality of play according to the tablebase, this RB v BN endgame can be divided into 3 phases: <1> moves 51-56: perfect play by Carlsen; <2> moves 57-64: Carlsen kind of lost his way with the king walk and didn't make progress; <3> the rest: Vallejo collapsed on moves 65-66, first with Kf1 (instead of Ng3! as recommended by the TB) and then with Ke1, missing the stalemate trap mentioned above, Carlsen figured out the win and converted quickly.

May-01-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Eyal:> Thank you for that better tablebase, which goes up to 7 rather than 6, and has the helpful "DTZ" which is most relevant to human players.
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