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Erwin L'Ami vs Ivan Sokolov
Tata Steel Group A (2013), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 13, Jan-27
Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch Defense (D40)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-27-13  YouRang: Poor Sokolov went winless in Wijk Aan Zee, but it wasn't for lack of opportunity. First he blew a win in round 2 vs. Nakamura, and here in the final round, he had a winning endgame against L'Ami, but wasn't able to find it.

Sokolov (playing black) faced this position on his 56th move:

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The winning idea Sokolov failed to see was <56...Rg2>!

Zugzwang! If white advances his g-pawn or takes his rook off of the 6th rank, then his g-pawn is lost. But if he moves his rook laterally on the 6th rank, he leaves the f-file open to allow 57...Kf1 and black's e-pawn cannot be stopped. Exchanging pawns doesn't work either: 57.Rf4 Kxg6 58.Rxc4 Rg2 59.Rc8 Kf1+ 60.Kd3 e2 61.Rf8+ Rf7 61.Rh8 Rf7! 62.Rh1+ Kg2! 63.Re2 Kf3 64.Rh1 Rd7+ 65.Kc2 Kg2

So, white's only choice is to move his king: <57.Kc1>

But this allows the black king access to d3, both attacking white's Pc3 and enabling the ...e2 threat. White's only viable move is <58.Rd6+> (58.Rf3? Rxg6 or 58.Re6? e2+), so there's no way to save the pawn: <58...Kxc3>

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Black now has two immediate threats: ...Rg1# and ...e2 with mate to follow. The only way to stop both is <59.Kd1>, and then <59...e2+> forces <60.Ke1>

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Black now goes to work to advance his newly passed c-pawn: <60...Kb3> (other choices may also work) and <61.Rb6+> is the only move that prevents ...c3 and guards Pg6. Then <61...Ka4>!

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White has no good choices. 62.Ra6+ is met by 62...Kb5 and there we no stopping both ...c3 and ...Rxg6.

One try for white might be <62.Re6 c3 63.Rc6> (63.Rxe2 Rxg6 is TB mate in 26) but then <63...Kb4 65.Rb6+ Kc5> and white can't save the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: <YouRang> Nice analysis.

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