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Ian Rogers vs Alexey Shirov
Groningen (1990), Groningen NED, rd 1, Dec-21
Sicilian Defense: Boleslavsky Variation (B59)  ·  1-0



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find similar games 2 more I Rogers/Shirov games
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-07-04  azaris: 62...♔g3 63. ♖h8 f5+! 64. ♔xf5 ♔xf3 65. ♖xh2 ♔g3 66. ♖h8 f3 draws.
Aug-02-06  wasspwot: According to Soltis in "The inner game of chess" this game ended 65 Kg3. Don't suppose it makes much difference though? Soltis also states that this game was played in 1991.
Aug-05-06  Dozy: Neat transition to a won ending!
Apr-05-10  ChessYouGood: Great game by Australia's best ever
May-09-10  newzild: No-one's posted a solution yet?

The first thing is to decide whether black's playing for a win or a draw. It appears that he's playing for a draw, as white's king can easily win black's two f-pawns, and the rook can sac itself for the h-pawn.

First candidate:

obviously the rook can't take, and otherwise black continues as below, but with an extra pawn.


Black needs to take this pawn. Otherwise, white can sac the rook for the h-pawn and use his king to win black's remaining f-pawn, leaving white a pawn up.


If White plays anything else then black plays Kg2 and white is forced to sac the rook for the pawn.


And now it doesn't matter whether the rook retreats on the h-file or along the 2nd rank, as in either case the advance of black's f-pawn requires white to go for a perpetual check on the g and h files or sac the rook for the pawn if the rook has retreated along the rank.

Pretty easy! 7/7 this week.

Unless I'm wrong, of course...

Premium Chessgames Member The solution to today's puzzle is 62...Kg3!! which allows Black to hold the game as suggested by azaris in 2004.
May-09-10  RandomVisitor: 57.Ra5! leads to a win for white.
May-09-10  ILoveThisSite: <newzild> 62... f5+ 63 Kxf4! Kg2 64 Rxh2 Kxh2 65 Kxf5 1-0
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: I had forgotten that back in my playing days I wasn't absolutely horrible at Rook endings--including last week, I solved 13/13, plus one already known. Now that I think upon this, my first big money prize (by chess standards) came because I had spent the entire week leading up to the tourney studying Smyslov & Levenfish's masterpiece, Rook Endings. Didn't crack an opening book at all.

There must be a lesson somewhere in there.

May-09-10  dzechiel: Black to move (62...?). Black has two pawns for a rook. "Insane."

So, is black playing for a win or a draw here? Is white playing for a win or a draw?

After some consideration, I think white is playing for a win, and black is playing for a draw.

For instance, if black played


then white could proceed

63 Kxf4 h1=Q 64 Rxh1 Kxh1 65 Kg3 Kg1 66 f4 Kf1 67 f5 Ke2 68 Kf4 Kd3 69 Ke5 Ke3 70 f6 Kf3 71 Kd6 Kf4 72 Ke7 Kf5 73 Kxf7 etc.

OK, certainly there are other moves for black, but you get the idea. Trying to win the rook with a pawn promotion seems dicey at best.

So, black will have to find something different? At first I thought


had possibilities, but then I realized that white would simply play

63 Kxf4

(not the checking pawn) and black would be in a worse situation than ever.

Of course, pushing the h-pawn immediately is sudden death. No, black must try to keep the f4-pawn on the board. The only move that does this and protects the h-pawn is


White is in zugzwang! The rook can't leave the h-file or black's h-pawn will promote (checking with 63 Rg5+ just brings about 63...Kf2 and now white has to repeat the position with 64 Rh5 Kg3), and the white king can't move as he needs to protect the pawn (without it, black's h-pawn will win the rook, and that will be draw). So, that only leaves something like

63 Rh7

Now black gets to play a move that I considered earlier, but now it doesn't lose the f4 pawn.


The white king is forced to leave the protection of the f-pawn, so he might as well take the checking pawn...

64 Kxf5 Kxf3! 66 Rxh2

White won't get another chance on the h-pawn.


Attacking the rook.

67 Ra2 f3 68 Ke4 f2

Black again threatens to promote.

69 Rxf2 Kxf2


This must be it. Time to check and see when the draw actually occurred.


Ack! Shirov must have overlooked 65 Kg3! Too bad.

May-09-10  Jamboree: I saw immediately that 62. ... Kg3 is an easy draw for black -- but that's not the issue. I know I'm probably being dense, but I can't see a clear obvious win for white in the final position of the actual game after 65. Kg3. In fact, if white gets sloppy, he can even accidentally cede the opposition to black when the kings later approach the pawns, and end up losing the white pawn! Of course he doesn't need to do that, but as black I wouldn't resign until I saw white demonstrate the winning line, starting from the final position. What is it?

If white tries to keep black's king away using white's king, then he can never reach the black pawn to take it. If white tries to run his king up by itself to take black's pawn, he lets black's king take his own pawn. If white runs his pawn up first, then he gets into an opposition dance with black's chasing king, possibly leading to a draw. And if he tries to oonch forward with both king and pawn, then black's king can always catch up, because he has only one piece to race with, whereas white has to get two pieces up the board. Eventually, we get into another opposition dance.

Obviously Shirov wouldn't have resigned if he didn't see a clear instant win, so could someone post it here, starting from the game's final position?

I know I must be missing something obvious.

After 65. Kg3 Kg1, then what is white's plan?

May-09-10  ozmikey: <Jamboree> see dzechiel's post above.
May-09-10  Catfriend: <Jamboree> White advances his pawn. When Black moves his king one row up, White moves his. When the pawn reaches it's opponent, the White monarch goes forward. Here's a line:

66.f4 Kf1 67.f5 Ke2 68.Kf4 Kd3 69.Ke5 Ke3 70.f6 Kf3 71.Kd6 winning the race.

May-09-10  tarek1: It seems that this position is a draw.
The pawn is attacked so Black has to defend it by either <62...Kg3>,<62...Kg2> or <62...Kg1>. Against any of these moves, White can force a draw if he so wishes by <63.Rxh2 Kxh2 64.Kxf4> with a draw. But what if he tries to win ?

Let's look at <62...Kg2> or <62...Kg1> which mutually transpose. <63.Kxf4 h1Q 64.Rxh1 Kxh1 65.Kg5 Kg2 66.f4 Kg3 67.f5 Kf3>

click for larger view

Now if <68.Kf6> then <68...Kf4> and obviously it's a draw. And if <68.f6 Ke4> and Black even wins the white pawn, but with good play it's still a draw.

A draw is also given by <62...Kg3> defending f4 <63.Rh8 f5+ 64.Kxf5 Kxf3 65.Rxh2 Kg3>

click for larger view

for example <66.Ra2 f3 67.Ke4 f2 68.Ra1 Kg2> and white will have to give his rook for the pawn.

So I didn't quite understand the point here or I missed something since it looks like everything draws easily.

May-09-10  goodevans: At the end of "easy week" I was on the brink of a 7/7

... but failed :(

May-09-10  tarek1: Ah, I see Kg3 wins in case of Kg2/Kg1... it didn't cross my mind. Brilliant ! So it seems that the only way to draw is indeed <62...Kg3>.
May-09-10  shuriken68: I'm not much of a rook endings connaisseur, but what about 62...Kg3.63Rxh2 and white wins in all variations?
May-09-10  cocker: Position after 64 moves is discussed in Nunn's book, Understanding Chess Endgames, diagram #5b.
May-09-10  dzechiel: <shuriken68: I'm not much of a rook endings connaisseur, but what about 62...Kg3.63Rxh2 and white wins in all variations?>

Not so. After

62...Kg3 63 Rxh2 Kxh2 64 Kxf4 Kg2

black will be able to follow the white pawn up the board, eg:

65 Kg4 Kf2 66 f4 Ke3 67 Kf5 Kf3 68 Ke5 Kg4 69 f5 Kg5

and white will not be able to take black's pawn without leaving his own pawn en prise.

May-09-10  shuriken68: @dzechiel. Thx. Very instructive. Didn't see that. Thx again.
May-09-10  David2009: I Rogers vs Shirov, 1990 Black 62...? Black cannot win: what is the safest route to a draw? Two plans: PLAN A: liquidate into a drawn pawn ending with 62...Kg2 63 Kxf4 h1=Q 64 Rxh1 Kxh1 which looks dead drawn (e.g. 65 Ke5 Kg2 harrying the f pawn, etc) and PLAN B hang on for a bit with 62...Kg3 and see what White does e.g. 63 Rh7. Now I can transpose back on Plan A but I can also continue Plan B with 63...f5+ 64 Kxf5 Kxf3 65 Rxh2 which also looks drawn.

Decision time: I choose Plan A - the simplest and shortest.

Time to check how the game went, look up the endings on the Nalimov database, and browse the kibitzes:
Plan A loses! Consolation prize: I lose in the best company (Shirov). Bravo to Ian Rogers for finding 65 Kg3 over the board. Good analyses by <dzechiel>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <dzechiel> Great post, Dave. I'm sitting here thinking of one of my overlong and overblown specials, and you have just aced it. Just about says it all.
May-09-10  MarbleSkull: I believe this is the first Sunday puzzle I've ever solved all the way. I think I'll make a cup of tea and bask in that for a bit.
May-09-10  gofer: Black must avoid losing Pf4 and then getting separated from Pf7. (i.e. 62 ... Kg2 63 Kxf4 h1=Q 64 Rx1 Kxh1 65 Kg3 winning) But what about Kg3? I think this is a draw by repetition or a draw because white loses Pf3 and has to swap off his rook to avoid Pf4 from promotion!

62 ... Kg3

Draw by repetition...

63 Rg5 Kf2 64 Rh5 Kg3 etc

Draw by no available mate...

63 Rh8 f5+ (Kg2 loses as we have seen above)
64 Kxf4 Kxf3
65 Rxh2 Kg3
66 Rh8 f3 (Ra2 is no better!)
67 Ke4 f2
68 Rg8+ Kh2
69 Rf7 Kg2
70 Ke3 f1=Q
71 Rxf1 Kxf1

In between these two options there are millions of permutations, but all of them draw!

Time to check...

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Might be a sign: No sense for danger, today.
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