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Reuben Fine vs Miguel Najdorf
"Najdorf's Wager" (game of the day Aug-27-2006)
Fine - Najdorf (1949), New York, NY USA, rd 3, Jan-20
Spanish Game: Closed. Pilnik Variation (C90)  ·  0-1



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sac: 67...Kxh3 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For today's Friday puzzle, Najdorf's 57...Kxh3! makes a sham sacrifice of his Knight in order to simplify to a won King and Pawn endgame against Reuben Fine.

See the highly entertaining and instructive post by <Once>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: After 67...Kxh3 68. Kxc1, the purpose of 68...Kg2 is NOT to threaten the f-pawn, it is to cut off the White king and open the path for the Black pawn. In fact, if White now tries 69. Nd6!? (IMO, the best drawing try against a human), 69...Kxf3? is only a draw with best play. As <johnlspouge> says, the way to win from here is to ignore the free pawn and play 69...h5! 70. Nf7 h4! (70...Kxf3? is still only a draw) and the Black will have a won K+P endgames after the knight is sacrificed for the h-pawn.
Jun-04-10  Marmot PFL: This is rather more difficult than earlier days this week, as black has several plausible options. Given the respective king positions black's most dangerous pawn could well be the h pawn, with 67...Kxh3 68 Kxe1 Kg2 cutting off the white king and threatening to promote or to capture f3 (3 connected passers beat the knight in this position). Then 69 Ke2 h5 70 Ng5 h4 and white will soon have to give up his knight.
Jun-04-10  YouRang: Well, I *guessed* 67...Kxh3 immediately, and then after some thought, satisfied myself that it was pretty good.

Obviously, it continues

68.Kxe1 Kg2! <one of those hyper-resourceful moves: it clears the way for the passed h-file while guarding h1,h2,h3, it attacks white's Pf3, it place our K on a square that is difficult for the N to attack, and it forces the white K to e2, where it can't move without losing the f-pawn>

69.Ke2 <on the bad side of a pair of opposing pawns> h5 <start the pawn rolling>

At this point, I was pretty sure that black was winning. White will have to sac his knight for my h-pawn (or even the g & h pawns), leaving black with the basic zugzwang win since our K can push the white K away. Black only needs to advance the h-pawn without letting the knight take the f4 pawn.

Very nice puzzle. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The knight sac was a real game-changer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Excellent puzzle. I really liked 71...g5, crucial to preventing Nxf4+.

If black gets impatient and plays 71...h3 instead, we get 72 Nxf4+ Kg3 73 Nxh3 Kxh3, a drawn position.

click for larger view

In an unforced offshoot of this position, we can also get 71...h3 72 Nxf4+ Kg3 73 Nd3 h2 74 Nf2 g5 75 Nh1+ Kg2 76 Ke3 Kxh1 77 Kf2 g4 78 fxg4, stalemate!

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Unearned is it you wonder? Woah man no white falling on hard ground is a partisan Miguel bottlenecks the king. Pony up, black pawns watch in wait. Nevermind bet dis either horse Nd3+, or kings hit the jackpot in 67..Kxh3. The balls in white's court. Each way eases, the span is hold off king's ransom and reigning white's steed..Kxe1 Kg2.. trot again over looking to fix stable monarch. White's learning curve is steep the nice chase rescues black. All that is left giddy up the pack, g5 winning the final hurdle.
Jun-04-10  Patriot: <chrisowen> I'm assuming you mean "h5 winning the final hurdle."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <mastyin> Here's your final position after 78. Kf1, with black to move:

click for larger view

One way for black to win is with 78... Ke3 79. Ke1 f3 80. Kf1 f2, leading to here:

click for larger view

If it were black to move, this would be a draw. He would have to abandon the pawn or play Kf3 stalemate. But as it's white to move, his king is squirted out of the side with 81. Kg2 Ke2 and the pawn cannot be stopped.

The easiest way to remember this ending is to aim to get a supported pawn to the seventh rank without giving check. If the pawn advances with check then the opposing king can hide on the queening square for the draw.

There's some interesting theory on this in Fundamental Chess Endings by Muller and Lamprecht. If this sort of thing floats your boat, let me know and I'll post it here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: <Patriot> O what a pickle. Dog tired I must ardently have been. You spotted the crooked gap in it, and i'll now try hedge my bets putting my best foot forwards :(
Jun-04-10  turbo231: got it, missed first 3 days got last 2. I'm better at endgames, middlegames... so many pieces, too overwhelming for me. But i will try to get better.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: I think I have to admit defeat today. The only way forward I can see is to sac th N and set up a zugzwang so the h-p can march through. 67 ... Kxh3 68 Kxe1 Kg2 69 Ke2 h5. If 70 K moves ... Kxc3 If, say 70 Ng4 h4 and it looks as if the WN cannot be on c2 at the right time to stop h1=Q.

Now let's take a look and see what happened
OK, not too bad

Jun-04-10  mastyin: Thanks <Once> I did notice it when i looked at the position again which i why i deleted my post. Thanks for posting it with pics. I somehow was under impression that if white got in front of black pawn trying to queen its a draw its not the case.

Interesting is 72. Nxg5 h3 73. Ne4 h2 74. Nf2 h1=Q 75. Nxh1 Kx h1 76. Kf1 Kh2 77. Kf2 Kh3....

also leads to same position I guess since there white has its pawn in front of black pawn, black can make his moves to get to the right position it seems.

Jun-04-10  johnlspouge: < <Patriot> wrote: <chrisowen> I'm assuming you mean "h5 winning the final hurdle." >

<Patriot>, you just earned the job of editing the newly discovered book by Nostradamus :)

Jun-04-10  BOSTER: <dzechiel>
<When separated by two squares on the diagonal, it takes a Knight four moves to deliver a check>. This is wrong . After 67...Kxh3.68. Kxe1 Kg2 69.Ke2 h5, white Knight need only three moves to deliver a check:Nc5,-Nd3-Ne1+. The subtlety of such structure ,which looks very simple,where White:Ke2,p.f3 and Black Kg2, p.f4 is white King can protect f3 pawn only from one square-e2, but black king can attack f3 pawn from two squares g2 and g3. This is a key factor for black to win .Such method is called outflanked , where white king has to abandon his pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Interesting! After 71 ... g5 I was thinking of the WN coming back to e4 and W has no chance. If instead of resigning W played 72 Nxg5, I dont see how B could win after ... h3 and Nxh3. Or can he? Instead of h3 immediately, instead play 72 ... Kg3 73 Ke1 (I guess, the WK is forced away from the p) Now 73 ... h3 74 Nxh3 Kxh3 75 Kf2 Kh2 (the oppo!) 76 Kf1 Kg3 77 Ke1 Kxf3 78 Kf1 Kg3 79 Kg1 f3 80 Kf1 f2 and B wins .... I think thats how it goes. What does Si say?

Even I know that Reuben Fine was the endgame guru so if it was saveable for W surely he would have saved it. I suppose he enough respect for Najdorf not to play it out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I'm trying to ascertain the losing move.

Maybe 64 h3 below, was premature, putting the h pawn in harm's way, leaving white without enough support to cover both pawns.

click for larger view

Jun-04-10  Marmot PFL: <Jimfromprovidence> I wouldn't try to say one way or the other, but its a very hard ending to hold with 2 weak pawns. Even some possible endings with N vs 3P which are theoretical draws are lost more often than not in actual play.
Jun-04-10  Zkid: <Jimfromprovidence> You are correct - 64. h3 was the losing move. The endgame is analyzed nicely in "Guide to Chess Endings" by Max Euwe.
Jun-04-10  EXIDE: I got the 67 Kxh3; did not see 67. g5. Instead just push h pawn towards promotion seems to win. Move 67 is indeed a great move, had to spend a lot of time to figure that one out.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <syracrophy: [From Aug-27-06] After 72.Nxg5 h3 73.Nxh3 Kxh3 74.Kd3 <[74].Kf2 Kh2 [75].Ke2 Kf2 pushes the king away from the pawn> 74...Kg2! 75.Ke4 Kf3 and white loses the pawn, and black promotes in a couple moves>

To elaborate a little on the above observations relating to the final position:

click for larger view

(with White to move after 71. …g5)

Two basic principles of pawn endings are well-illustrated by this ending, specifically:

(I) 74. … Kg2! (as correctly given by <syracrophy> after 72.Nxg5 h3 73.Nxh3 Kxh3 74.Kd3) avoids the disastrous blunder 74...Kg3?? 75.Ke4 .

(II) The final position is a win for Black only because his f-pawn has reached the 5th rank (from Black’s side of the board, i.e., the algebraic 4th rank). Because the Black f-pawn is on [Black’s] 5th rank, if White tries 74. Kf1 (in lieu of 74. Kd3 in the main line given by <syracrophy>), he loses notwithstanding temporarily gaining the opposition after 74. ... Kg3 75.Kg1 Kxf3 76.Kf1 Ke3 77.Ke1 f3 78.Kf1 f2 79.Kg2 Ke2–+. (Note: If the entire final position were shifted one rank towards Black’s side of the board, the analogous line would be sufficient to hold the draw.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Hello <johnlspouge> amusing you send me round the twist. Jack i.e. it in you big joker. Be your enthusiasm with good intentions this chicos arts on turn around mad fortune. Meet me at the bar, bade us goodbye, until the sunset is landing and I swing off.
Jun-07-10  SamAtoms1980: Posting this a bit late, but at the time I did see that after 67 ... Kxh3! 68 Kxe1 Kg2 69 Ke2 h5 70 Ng5 h4, White would be in trouble. Didn't analyze all the way to the finish.
Jan-12-13  Eduardo Bermudez: About this ending was a bet of 200 dlls between Najdorf and Fine : Najdorf won !!
Apr-02-22  cehertan: A great rarity for Fine to get flatly outplayed in an even ending.
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