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Hikaru Nakamura vs Peter Leko
FIDE Grand Prix London (2012), London ENG, rd 3, Sep-23
King's Indian Attack: Symmetrical Defense (A05)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 8 OF 8 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-23-12  Ulhumbrus: <Eyal: 66...Kc5 was another only-drawing move; apparently Leko understands this endgame properly.> The move 70...Rh6+ suggests that this understanding includes an understanding of when the defending rook should check the opposing king from the rear and when the defending rook should check the opposing king from the side
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Eyal: *** apparently Leko understands this endgame properly.>

Leko, of course, is a very strong endgame player, and it is not surprising he would defend this fundamental rook ending perfectly.

The only example of an endgame lapse by Leko that comes to mind is: Leko vs Ivanchuk, 2008, which involved one of those theortetical endings (pawnless R + B vs. R) that even elite GMs may not have studied extensively.

Sep-23-12  MrSpock: The position after 60. Kxc5 was gotten for white!
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Too bad for Hikaru. Re tablebases, I had breakfast at a tournament a few months ago with GM Alexander Stripunsky and he indicated, at least for him, that he does not study and try to memorize tablebases, using them only for analysis. Obviously you'd have to be very selective on anything you tried to memorize, but certainly some R+P positions might be candidates. It will be interesting to hear what, if anything, Hikaru and Peter say with respect to this endgame and their tablebase knowledge as opposed to over the board calculation. Criticism of today's GMs' endgame knowledge versus the greats of the past is perhaps not fully deserved, however, they do spend most of thier time on openings apparently, but a lot of the great historic endgames had the benefit of adjournment analysis, a big distintion from trying to solve everything over the board in time pressure.
Sep-23-12  Marmot PFL: I don't think anyone would try to remember a tablebase, but the basic strategy of keeping the enemy king away from your passed pawn is usually reliable.
Sep-23-12  Jim Bartle: "...a lot of the great historic endgames had the benefit of adjournment analysis, a big distintion from trying to solve everything over the board in time pressure."

Extremely important, plus the players will be tired when playing without the adjournment.

Sep-23-12  isemeria: Leko's drawing power is so strong that he can draw even when the opponent has a tablebase win.
Sep-23-12  PinnedPiece: Well, this game can be a POTD sometime soon, as a Sunday puzzle 61.?

I would fail it miserably. Even having watched this game and read the kibitzing.


Sep-23-12  Jim Bartle: Me too, PinnedPiece. Some kibitzers seem to think "tablebase" = "easy."
Sep-23-12  Hesam7: After <60...Rh1>

click for larger view

These are the only winning moves for White:

61 a6 mate in 37,
61 Kd6 mate in 38,
61 Kc6 mate in 39,
61 Rc7 mate in 42,
61 Ra8 mate in 44.

After White misses this opportunity extremely precise play by Black (Leko played several "only moves") keeps the draw.

Sep-23-12  Hesam7: Leko's only move in the final phase of the game include: <61...Ke6>, <62...Rc1>, <63...Kd6>, <64...Rb1>, <66...Kc5>.

Very impressive, I guess doing your homework on rook and pawn endings does pay off even at the highest levels (another example: Aronian vs Carlsen, 2006).

Sep-23-12  Eyal: <Leko's drawing power is so strong that he can draw even when the opponent has a tablebase win.>

It actually looks like Leko missed a couple of chances to draw several moves before that blunder by Nakamura, without having to rely on the latter missing a TB win. He should have preserved his e-pawn with <52...e3!> or, on the next move (after Nakamura played 53.Rh7+ instead of Kxe4):

click for larger view

<53...Kg6!> (instead of Kf6) 54.Re7 e3 55.a5 Kf6 56.Re8 Kf7 57.Re4 (57.Re5 Kf6 with the threat of Rd3+ doesn't allow White to make progress) 57...Kg6! (preventing h5) 58.a6 (58.Kd6/c6 Kf5) 58...Rxb3 59.Kxc5 Ra3 60.Kb6 Rb3+ 61.Kc7 Ra3 and this looks like a draw.

Sep-23-12  Eyal: Position after 60...Rh1:

click for larger view

The basic winning idea goes something like: 61.a6 Rc1+ 62.Kb5 Rb1+ 63.Kc6 Rc1+ 64.Kd7 Rd1+ 65.Kc8 Ra1 (65...Rc1+ 66.Rc7) 66.Ra8 Rc1+ 67.Kb7 Rb1+ 68.Ka7 Ke7 69.Rb8 Ra1 70.Rb5 Kd7 71.Kb7. Note that if the black king is one square to the left, on e6, then this maneuver doesn't work and the position is drawn, because after 62.Kb5/b6 Black plays 62...Kd6! (as on move 63 of the actual game), which doesn't allow the white king the room for maneuver that it needs in order to escape the checks.

I suppose Nakamura's 61.Rb7 is a good candidate for the "tragicomedies" section in one of the next editions of Dvoretsky's endgame book.

Sep-23-12  Jason Frost: <Marmot PFL: I don't think anyone would try to remember a tablebase, but the basic strategy of keeping the enemy king away from your passed pawn is usually reliable.>

Generally, though going by that principal 61.Rd7 seems most natural. But it doesn't do the trick either.

Sep-23-12  Ulhumbrus: How about 61 Rd7, aiming for the bridge building manoeuvre Rd4 with the white king on a8, the pawn on a7 and the black rook on a1?
Sep-23-12  hellopolgar: regarding position after black's 60th move.

must be a tough loss for Naka.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Hikaru Nakamura ‏@GMHikaru The good, the bad and the really, really ugly finish. Draws are not quite as much fun.>

1 hr ago on twitter

Sep-23-12  Marmot PFL: <Jason Frost> Good point, it would work though if the WR was on the e-file and the king on the f-file, or for any pawn except a rook pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: So, reviewing Nakamura's results in this tournament: In round 1, he lost a game that should have been drawn. In round 2, he won a game that should have been drawn. In round 3, he drew a game he should have won. I don't know why you all think chess is all about planning and strategy, because these results only prove the game is purely random. Nakamura may as well be playing blackjack.
Sep-23-12  Marmot PFL: 61 Kd6 seems a more accurate way to play Nakamura's idea as the K moves toward the 8th rank at the same time cutting off black's king, now to advance his own king black has to play 61..Rd1+ and spend a check chasing the WK where it wants to go anyway. 62 Kc7 then 62...Rc1+ 63 Kb8 Ra1 64 a6 and so on.

I guess 61 a6 is a little faster, then Ke6 62 Ra8 Kd7 fails to the simple 63 a7 Ra1 64 Rh8 and rook checks soon run out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Glad to see my comment evoked some interesting discussion. One word I think we should eliminate from any discussion of these kind of endgames is "simple". Although I have some books on endgames, I personally find learning and understanding pawn and rook and pawn endgames beyond some basic ideas very difficult, but my talent is limited. It's apparent that even for the extremely talented, absolute understanding is challenging even with the benefit of tablebases. Of course this is why chess as a competitive sport is a long way from being played out. With respect to this ending,Paul Keres summed it up well: " Even the best grandmasters in the world have had to work hard to acquire the technique of rook endings."
Sep-23-12  Wyatt Gwyon: Can anyone explain Naka's 52nd move?
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: Back on page 4 of this thread, some of us were having a little fun with trying to explain the difference between "winning", "completely winning", or "<insert any intensifier here> winning" as they are used to assess chess positions. With that in mind, you can read this synopsis of the Nakamura/Leko game on the official site:

"Hikaru Nakamura should have scored his second win in a row when he obtained a completely winning position against Peter Leko's Gruenfeld. The position seemed to be heading for a draw but somehow Leko got careless, probably 25...b6 was better that 25...Rd7 because suddenly it became clear that white's active rook gave him serious chances in the ending after 30.Rd1. Apparently Nakamura missed his chance when he didn't play 61.a6 which is apparently winning and eventually had to be satisfied with a draw."

OK, if I am following this, Nakamura was "completely winning" this game until he failed to play the "apparently winning" 61. a6. I tell ya, someone needs to come up with more precise definitions for these terms. And, do not under any circumstances give this job to a chess player.

Sep-24-12  Eyal: As I've already mentioned, there was a see-saw of mistakes in the ending; the description of this game depends on which of those one chooses to focus. For example, the game was "completely drawn" after Nakamura’s 52.Kd5, and then "completely winning" for him after Leko's 52...Rc3? (instead of e3!), and then "completely drawn" again after Nakamura's 53.Rh7+? (instead of Kxe4), and then "completely winning" again after Leko’s 53…Kf6? (instead of Kg6!)...
Sep-25-12  Ulhumbrus: <paulalbert> Capablanca is with you. He has said repeatedly that rook and pawn endings are extremely difficult
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