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Evgeny Najer vs Ilia Smirin
European Championship (2014), Yerevan ARM, rd 4, Mar-06
Sicilian Defense: Richter-Rauzer. Neo-Modern Variation (B67)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Guessed the Sunday solution of 41...f4!! almost by accident. I thought Black looks busted, so I figured maybe 41...f4!! is insane enough to win. However, I didn't see all of the line posted in the game highlights above.

Yet, it became obvious as soon as I saw the posted line <41...f4!! 42.Rxc5 Kf6! 43.Rc6+ Ke7 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Ra5 Ke6 => that Black can afford to give up two pieces for a passed pawn, and then use the King to keep the Rook from gaining access. But it's still a draw because there's no time to further advance the pawn, as the King has to keep moving to keep the Rook under control.

What a neat drawing combination!

Premium Chessgames Member
  hoodrobin: Well, it's Sunday, isn't it?
I did not understand the position nor the discussion, any single line!

Have a good Sunday, All!

Premium Chessgames Member
  hoodrobin: Moreover, I did not read the notation...

Today it is Sunday, isn't it?


Mar-09-14  morfishine: <41...Kf6>

Interesting spoiler


Mar-09-14  diagonalley: 43 .... K-K2 is simply out of this world! ... i'm gobsmacked
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: An astonishing position. I managed to find part of the main line, but nowhere near enough to claim a solution.

It's clear that black isn't going to do any world-breaking with knight and bishop, so the story has to be about the f pawn.

It's a puzzle, so that means an unusual hard-to-see move, so that usually means a sacrifice. Interesting that a hard-to-see move becomes an easy-to-see move when we are in puzzle land, hm?

That means 41...f4 becomes our prime candidate. Not because it looks like a good move, not because we know whether or how it works. Simply because it's the puzzle move in the position.

What is white going to do? At first I thought 42. Rxc5 f3 43. Rf5 Bb7. But that just looks yucky for black because his king is trapped in the Nordic corner (that's the NE for those whose maps aren't centred on the UK)

So that means we are forced into our second puzzle move of the day. After 42. Rxc5 we need to play 42...Kf6 getting his Scandinavian majesty out of jail and intending Kf5 to protect the passed pawn.

The nuance I missed was 43. Rxc6 Ke7! Black has to stop the white rook from attacking the passed f pawn. But he has to do this from a high position, the seventh and six ranks. If he tries to run towards the pawn, white simply exchanges rook for pawn. This would leave him with a trivial win thanks to his queenside pawn plus.

An instructive position. The fact that we are in puzzle mode makes it much easier than it would have been in real life. I'm really glad not to have to face it OTB with the tock clicking.

Mar-09-14  paulofx2071: If 41...f4!! 42.Rxc5 Kf6! 43.Rc6+ Ke7 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Ra5 Ke6 then 46. a4, f2 47. b4 f1Q 48 a5
And rock and 3 pions united y passed versus queen. ¿Is lost?
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: As <Jamboree> already pointed out, after 41...f4!!, if White tries to avoid a draw with 42.Rf5, Black wins with the shocking 42...Nd3!!, e.g. 43.b3 (43.a4 Bc4!) 43...Bc8 44.Rd5 Nf2 45.Rd4 Nh3 46.Rc4 f3 47.Rc7+ Kf6 48.Rxc8 f2 49.Rf8+ Ke5 50.Rf3 Ke4 51.Rxf2 Nxf2 .

The normal (and inferior) 42... Ne6? is sufficient to draw, but even that is quite interesting. After 43. Kc1!, Black has a choice of:

43...Nd4 44.Rd5 f3 45.Rd7+ Kg8 46.Rd8+ Kg7 (46...Kf7?? 47.Rxd4 ) 47.Rd7+! Kf6!? [Black draws by repetition after 47...Kg8 48.Rd8+ or the trappy 47...Kh8 48. Rd8+!= (not 48.Rf7?? Kg8! )] 48.Rxd4 Kg5 49.Rd2 Kxh5=; and

43...Bc4 44.Kd2 (44. b3? Nd4! ) 44...Bxa2!? (shades of Spassky-Fischer Game 1; the sane 44...Bf1 45.Ke1 Bg2 46. Kf2 Bc6 is also equal) 45.b3 Bb1=. Houdini 3, not I, found all of this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <paulofx2071: If 41...f4!! 42.Rxc5 Kf6! 43.Rc6+ Ke7 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Ra5 Ke6 then 46. a4, f2 47. b4 f1Q 48 a5 And rock and 3 pions united y passed versus queen. ¿Is lost?>

47.b4 is illegal because Black still has a pawn on b4. 47.b4 es ilegal porque Negro aún tiene un peón en b4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: The drawing line is more complex than I thought.

After 41... f4! 42. Rxc5 (not 42. Rf5? Nd3!! ) 42...Kf6 43. Rc6+ Ke7 44. Rxa6 f3 45. Ra7+ Ke6 46. Ra6+ (position below),

click for larger view

only 42...Ke7!! holds the draw.

If 42...Ke5?, then 43. Ra8! gaining access to f8 for the Rook wins for White.

If 42...Kf7?, then 43. Rd3! gaining access to d1 for the Rook wins for white.

If 42...Kf5?, then 43. Rd3 or 43. Ra8 wins.

If 42...Kd5?? or 42...Kd7??, then of course 43. Rf6 is sufficient.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: The number of nightmares associated with this position for Smirin depends on how much time he gave in considering 41...f4.

For example, I imagine he saw up to 41...f4 42 Rf5 Nd3 43 b3.

If at this point he gave up, as I did, with a mental shrug "nice idea, but Black's pieces are all tied down-the knight protects the pawn, the bishop must stay on the knight to avoid cxd3, and the King has no good moves", then he will have many sleepless nights wondering why he didn't consider 43...Bc8!

Having it occur after the time pressure, when he had time to find everything makes it worse trauma wise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: There's also the bishop interference angle.

We see this after 41...f4 42 Rxc5 Kf6 43 Rd5!?

click for larger view

If white tries to win by 44 Rd8 (seeing 45 Rf8+) black plays 44...Bc4!

click for larger view

If white tries to win by 44 Rd2 (seeing 45 Rf2) black plays 44...Be2!

click for larger view

Mar-09-14  Patriot: Black has 2 pieces for a rook and pawn--slight material edge to black. White threatens Rxc5 and Rxf5.

If there is a chance to win, I think black must give up a piece in order to get the pawns moving.


42.Rxc5 Kg5 followed by 43.Be2.

42.Rd6+ Kg5 doesn't help.

41...Kf6 is probably black's only hope.


So 41...f4 is the key. I'm wondering if 42.Rf5 Nd3 43.Ka1 Bc8 is the way. I'll check this out with Houdini.

Mar-09-14  Patriot: It turns out there are only two ways to really draw this: 41...f4 and 41...Kf6. Everything else is in white's favor.

My line, 42.Rxc5 Kg5 actually loses. Here, 42...f4! is needed. Curiously, 43.Rc6+ Ke7! is the only way to draw. 44.Rxa6 f3. It's funny that instead of the king escorting the pawn to promotion, it is instead used to make sure the rook never gets in position to capture it.

And I was right about 41...f4 42.Rf5 Nd3!. On 43.Ka1!?, 43...Bc8!.

Anyway, it's a very interesting problem and something to learn from.

Mar-09-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: Absent something clever on Black's part, his situation looks dreary. The f-pawn goes while he's saving his knight, he has to be careful not to avoid piece loss, and b-pawn is hard to defend as well.

So any winning chances seem to depend upon saving and pushing the f-pawn, even at the cost of the knight -- i.e. 41 ... f4 or 41 ... Kf6. But I don't think the simplest such line works (Black's 41 and 42 can be transposed), in that:

41 ... Kf6
42 Rxc5 f4
43 Rc6+ Kf7
44 Rxa6 f3
45 Ra5 Kf6
46 Ra8 Kf7

looks like a draw, not a Black win.

Also not successful is:

41 ...f4
42 Rxc5 Be2
43 Rf5 f3

and Black can never get his king into the act.

Hmm ...

Mar-09-14  Patriot: <Cheapo by the Dozen> Good job on today's puzzle! You certainly had all the right ideas, like guarding the attack squares rather than try to escort the pawn with the king.

43...Kf7 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Rd6 f2 46.Rd1 . This is why 43...Ke7! is the only way. And in the case of 43...Ke7 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Rg6 f2, white is lost.

Mar-09-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: The next piece-sacrifice idea to try is

41 ... Ne6
42 Rd6 Kf6
43 Rxa6 f4
44 Rd6 f3
45 Rd1


But starting a pawn race at Move 44 doesn't work for White, as Black queens with check, then can keep checking until the advanced pawn is forked.

Bad news: I haven't found anything that works yet.
Good news: I may be coming up only one move short.

Mar-09-14  BOSTER: Because in the POTD pos.white best result is only draw (theoretically ) , he should reach this before with sacr. the rook.

click for larger view

After 37. Rxd5 is draw.a
White to play 37.

Mar-09-14  chupawan: ok i saw it on chessbase under under the nickname of astonishing endgame so... after all i do not think it is so obvious even kramnik or carslen will be in trouble to find it
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black has a bishop and a knight for a rook and a pawn.

White threatens 42.Rxc5 and 42.Rxf5.

I've tried to reach winning positions like

click for larger view

but I couldn't find forced lines to achieve them.


Another idea was trying to corner the white rook as in a study by Wotawa (see for example Yusupov's "Chess Lessons", page 17):

click for larger view

White looks lost but has an incredible resource, 1.e4 fxe4 2.Kg7 Rh5 3.Kg6 Re5 4.Kf6 Re8 5.Kf7, draw.

This suggests 41... f4:

A) 42.Rxc5 Kf6 43.Re6+ Ke7 (43... Ke5 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Ra8 f2 46.Rf8 + -) 44.Rxa6 f3 45.Ra5 Ke6 46.Ra8 Ke7, etc.

B) 42.Rf5 Nd3

B.1) 43.cxd3 Bxd3+ 44.Kc1 Bxf5 - +.

B.2) 43.Ka1 Bc8 44.Rd5 Ne1, unclear but Black looks better.

B.3) 43.a3 bxa3 44.bxa3 Bc8 with a similar conclusion as B.2.


I don't think there is a forced winning line for Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I missed a step on my first post so I'll just redo it.

Besides 41...Rf4 42 Rxc5 Kf6 43 Rc6+, white can also try 43 Rd5!? The idea is for white to either get to Rf2 after 44 Rd2 or Rf8+ after 44 Rd8.

I believe black has to respond with 43…f3, below.

click for larger view

Now black's perfectly place bishop handles either threat.

If 44 Rd2 then 44…Be2.

click for larger view

If 44 Rd8 then 44…Bc4.

click for larger view

Mar-09-14  hedgeh0g: I'd seen this beautiful variation on the ChessBase website when it was published a few days back, so I didn't have the pleasure of solving this one myself.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Correction to my last post here:

I meant to post "only 46...Ke7!! holds the draw," as all other King moves(46...Ke5?, 46...Kf5, 46...Kf7?, 46...Kd5??, 46...Kd7??) lose.

P.S.: Got the move number wrong in posting <42...Ke7>.

Mar-11-14  Overgod: I am gonna put it this way: I got the first two moves correct (f4!! and Kf6!!). It was educated/thoughtful guessing, rather than brute calculation. Houdini, the monster, saw it immediately. It took me at least half an hour of concentrated thought to find them.

Do I pretend to have fully understood this position whilst coming up with those moves? Nope. But I'll take the glory anyway.

Apr-03-17  Rafaelvleite: That could have been Smirov's immortal if he played f4 and also won!!!
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