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Murali Karthikeyan vs Pavel Eljanov
Qatar Masters (2014), Doha QAT, rd 1, Nov-26
Spanish Game: Exchange. Normal Variation (C69)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-17-15  gofer: Poor old white. This should be a simple draw, but something has gone horribly wrong...

<53 ... g4!>

Doh! White can resign, whatever white does black is going to get a passed pawn on the h file and no way to stop it!

54 gxh4 hxg3
55 Kf2/Be1 h2

54 hxg4 h3!
55 Kf2/Be1 h2

54 Kf2 gxh3
55 Kg1 hxg3! (gxh4 h2)
56 Any move h2+/h2

Now that's gotta hurt after 50+ moves...


I take it back, white never saw the combination coming! Black sacrifices a pawn and the bishop pair trading to an end game with different coloured bishops, but the passed pawn is assured.

Nice play by black!!!

Dec-17-15  saturn2: I got this one qickly. After 53...g4 one of the black pawns has only three tempos to queening whilst black has four. 54 Kf2 also fails because of black's light squared bishop
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <53...g4> is a well-known theme: Black gets a pawn to <h3> and thats the end of that


Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: I knew that ...g4 tactics but only in pure ♙endgames. Well oc♗endgames are like ♙endgames. Sometimes at least.
Dec-17-15  RonB52734: This is probably my first Thursday solution ever. Shout-out to my friend Clyde, who is great at endgames and loves to teach. If you're in Pittsburgh and play chess, you know Clyde.
Dec-17-15  TheaN: <kevinatcausa: Jimfromprovidence: My instinct is no. White plays Kxg3 and plans to push the h pawn next turn.>

Basic concept for white, yes, but straight away it doesn't work. 52....hxg3+ 53.Kxg3 Bxc3 54.h4? Be1+ . Not to say that is the end of it all, because the knight can become a huge nuisance, white isn't forced to play h4 and the struggle is more nasty than after 52....Bxe3+!, which essentially sets up the puzzle move by force.

Dec-17-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: There are a number of opposite-colored bishop endings that can't be won with a 2-pawn advantage, and many more that can't be won with a one-pawn advantage. (Perhaps the endgame tablebase mavens could supply some numbers on this.) Here is an opposite-colored bishop ending where pawns are even and the defending king is within the square of the most remote enemy pawn. Yet black can force promotion with

53... g4! and white is out of luck:

A. 54.hg h3 55.Kf2 h2 promotes.

B. gh 55.Kf2 h2 is similar.

C. 54.Kf2 gh 55.Kg1 hg 56.any h2+ promotes next move.

This (as Andy Soltis wrote in a recent column) is why we like chess.

Dec-17-15  dfcx: End game position. the first move has to be the pawn and there are only two choices, hxg3 and g4.

53...hxg3 fails to 54.Ke2, the last square is the opposite color of black's bishop and the game ends in a draw.

After 53....g4! 54.gxh4 (hxg4 gxh3) h3! and white can't prevent the promotion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <jimfromprovidence> From your side puzzle after 52... hxg3+, Deep Fritz 14 gives best play as 53. Kxg3 Bxc3 54. Nxd5 Kxd5 55. Kg4 Bf6 (-1.37 @ 32 depth) with the following position:

click for larger view

Though it might look promising, the Shredder 6-piece endgame database at indicates it's a draw after 56. h4, 56. Kf3, 56. Kg3, 56. Kf5 or 56. Kh5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  paavoh: Nice to see an engame puzzle, but this was more like a Wednesday. After 53. - g4, one pawn will promote on the h file no matter what.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <jimfromprovidence> Deep Fritz 14 has now reached 41 depth and is assessing the position (above and below) as a win for Black:

151: Murali Karthikeyan - Pavel Eljanov, Qatar Masters 2014

click for larger view

Analysis by Deep Fritz 14 x64:

1. (-5.55): 56.Kg3 Bd8 57.Kf3 Kd4 58.Kg4 Ke3 59.Kg3 Be7 60.h4 gxh4+ 61.Kg2 Bb4 62.Kh1 Be1 63.Kg1 Bg3 64.Kg2 Be5 65.Kh3 Bf6 66.Kg2 Ke4 67.Kg1 Kf3 68.Kh2 Bd4 69.Kh3 Bf2 70.Kh2 Bg3+ 71.Kh1 Bf4

2. (-5.55): 56.Kf3 Kd4 57.Kg4 Ke3 58.Kg3 Be7 59.h4 gxh4+ 60.Kg2 Bb4 61.Kh1 Be1 62.Kg1 Bg3 63.Kg2 Be5 64.Kh3 Bf6 65.Kg2 Ke4 66.Kg1 Kf3 67.Kh2 Bd4 68.Kh3 Bf2 69.Kh2 Bg3+ 70.Kh1 Bf4 71.Kg1 Be5

3. (-5.55): 56.Kf5 Bd8 57.Kg4 Ke4 58.h4 gxh4 59.Kh3 Kf3 60.Kh2 Kg4 61.Kg2 Bc7 62.Kg1 Kh3 63.Kh1 Be5 64.Kg1 Bb8 65.Kh1 Bd6 66.Kg1 Bf8 67.Kh1 Bg7 68.Kg1 Kg4 69.Kg2 Bf6 70.Kh1 h3 71.Kh2 Bd4

4. (-5.55): 56.h4 gxh4 57.Kh3 Bg5 58.Kg2 Ke6 59.Kh1 Bf6 60.Kg2 Ke5 61.Kh3 Kf4 62.Kh2 Kf3 63.Kh3 Be7 64.Kh2 Bf6 65.Kh3 Be7 66.Kh2 Bf6 67.Kh3 Be7 68.Kh2 Bf6 69.Kh3 Be7 70.Kh2 Bf6 71.Kh3 Be7

Maybe the Shredder table base is correct in it's assessment of a draw, but now I'm not so sure. I suppose even if it is a table base draw, any potential drawing line includes some pitfalls for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black desires to have a passed h-pawn. the key move sets one up- whether white takes or not. white's bishop is prevented from stopping the pawn and the king is too far away.
Dec-17-15  Chess Dad: <patzer2: I suppose even if it is a table base draw, any potential drawing line includes some pitfalls for White.>

Oh yeah, they exist. And I suspect beginning players might fall for one of them.

But from the position you show from Murali Karthikeyan - Pavel Eljanov, Qatar Masters 2014, white has to know that he's playing for a draw. Black's bishop doesn't control h1, so it's a very easy first move h4 gxh4, and then as long as white simply tries to keep his king on the h file in front of the pawn and never tries to find a way to take the bishop, he'll get his draw. With this plan, I ran through the table base and didn't really see many losing moves.

The ending position is with the black bishop somewhere on the b8-h2 diagonal protecting the pawn on h2, and the white king alternates between g2 and h1. The black king can't move into f1->f3->h3 without causing draw by stalemate, and if the pawn promotes while the white king is at g2, the promotion is immediately captured and then draw by insufficient material.

Dec-17-15  eblunt: < patzer2 > Your position doesn't need a whole load of analysing ! ...

h4 and either

1) black plays pxp. Black now has an h file pawn and a bishop that doesn't control the queening square *and* white's king can get to the queening square and control it. This is a known drawing position all players should know.

2) Black doen't play pxp. White plays pxp. Obvious draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <kevinatcausa> <theaN> <patzer2>

As <patzer2> points out the position after 52...hxg3+ is a draw with this line.

53. Kxg3 Bxc3 54. Nxd5 Kxd5 55. Kg4 Bf6

click for larger view

Here white simply plays 56 h4 which forces 56...gxh4.

click for larger view

Now the rook pawn cannot promote because black has the wrong colored bishop, meaning it does not control the queening square.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <eblunt> You posted as I was composing my response.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mating Net: The breakthrough move 53...g4! is the same move, with colors reversed, as 57.g4! in this game H Ree vs Ftacnik, 1978. The pattern recognition helped big time to solve this puzzle.
Dec-17-15  Afroim: Cheapo by the Dozen: "Super easy for a Thursday"

It's only seems to be easy, because start of combination not placed in the picture. Decisive move was 51...c3! To find it is not so easy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Afroim: Cheapo by the Dozen: "Super easy for a Thursday"

It's only seems to be easy, because start of combination not placed in the picture. Decisive move was 51...c3! To find it is not so easy.>

Even if the part given is 'easy', it is damn pretty and instructive.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <patzer2: <jimfromprovidence> Deep Fritz 14 has now reached 41 depth and is assessing the position (above and below) as a win for Black: ...>

A rare case where the human horizon is better than Fritz'. Because of our power of abstraction, we see the draw due to the wrong-colored bishop. Fritz clearly does not have this understanding and can not crank to it by brute force.

Quite remarkable, really.

Dec-17-15  eblunt: < Jimfromprovidence > I might have got in first, but pictures are so much prettier !
Dec-17-15  Boerboel Guy: <chrisowen> Slightly verbose old chap!
Dec-17-15  Bubo bubo: Black lauches a breakthrough with 53...g4!, eventually queening a pawn on h1: After 54.gxh4 gxh3 or 54.hxg4 h3 the h-pawn cannot be stopped, and 54.Kf2 gxh3 55.Kg1 hxg3 is also futile.

At move 53 we have very reduced even material, no passed pawns and odd-colored bishops, and yet Black wins: nice!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <Gypsy: <patzer2: <jimfromprovidence> Deep Fritz 14 has now reached 41 depth and is assessing the position (above and below) as a win for Black: ...>

A rare case where the human horizon is better than Fritz'.>

Not so rare as you might think in endgame situations. Like other engines, Fritzy is an idiot savant. It does not say "Black wins" or "draw", it just says "-5.55". What that means, it is up to a human to decide, in this case: "book draw". If Fritz were linked to an endgame tablebase, we would not have this problem here. Sometimes, however, with more than 6 men on the board, that does not help.

Please remember that engines have no comprehension of the position whatsoever.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Tiggler: ... Please remember that engines have no comprehension of the position whatsoever.>

Oh I am aware of that part. It is the fact that humans do sometimes make that cognitive jump in comprehension that I find remarkable. Its those moments of human Aha! that I am reveling in. That ability to say things like: Ok, here we are; now let's cut out some crap in the middle, and let's see if we can ever make that last pawn step ...

Pretty cool, actually; even though we don't have much to hang our hats on, otherwise. :-))

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