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Zhong Zhang vs David Marciano
Chess Olympiad (2016), Baku AZE, rd 4, Sep-05
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-22-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Every chess player must know this King and Pawn vs. lone King ending by heart. White's 68th move gaining the opposition of kings is a key winning move that will allow the passed pawn to be promoted safely in a few more moves, so Black resigned. If the endgame pattern is properly executed, Black cannot stop White from winning this game. Unfortunately, many amateur players would have moved the pawn instead, and ruined the victory.

The rule of thumb is "A king on the 6th rank ahead of it's passed pawn always wins, no matter who's turn to move it is." (However, the outer most a- and h-pawns -- the rook pawns -- are excluded from this rule. If the lone king can occupy Ka8 against the a-pawn, or occupy Kh8 against the h-pawn, the game will become a draw because the lone king cannot be flushed out of the corner which prevents promotion.)

In this game, after 68.Kg6 the White king on the 6th rank is ahead of it's passed pawn. Now it's Black's turn to move. No matter which way Black's king moves, the White king will advance on the opposite file and secure control of the promotion square. Thus, 68...Kh8 69.Kf7 or 68...Kf8 69.Kh7 both protect the path of the g-pawn to promotion. After 72.g8=Q, White will use the new queen to easily force checkmate on the lone Black king. The key move to making this sequence happen was 68.Kg6 getting to the 6th rank ahead of the passed pawn.

However, if White had instead erroneously advanced the pawn 68.g6, the game would have been drawn. Play would have gone 68...Kh8 69.g7+ Kg8 70.Kg6 placing the White king behind the blocked pawn, and stalemate has occurred. The general rule of thumb is "advance the passer to the 7th rank with check, your game is a wreck (unless you already control the promotion square with another piece)."

Thus, White's 68th move was the make-or-break difference between arranging a successful pawn promotion to make a new queen, or creating a drawn stalemate position. Knowledge of forced pawn endings will allow the student to win or draw many future games against all opposition. In this game, White has a forced win against any player in the world, past or present because he knows the unstoppable winning endgame pattern. Such winning and drawing endgame patterns an be learned by anyone who takes the time to do so. It will tremendously improve your tournament results in hard fought games like the one above.

Mar-22-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: If the final position sequence in this game was new or unclear for the reader, I recommend reserving some instructional chess books from the local library. I define an instructional chess book as one that discusses the history, rules, moves, tactics, tips and the three phases of a typical game of chess: the opening, middlegame and endgame phases. (Checkmate or a perpetual check draw can occur in any of the three phases.) Read the same instructional book two or three times in a row; it becomes clearer after each re-reading. Get out a board and pieces and rehearse by hand the positions given in the book. (Reading over moves from a book is not as memorable as moving the pieces by hand at the board, so combine the two together.) It's not necessary to purchase a specialist book devoted entirely to the endgame at this point. The student is better off reading a few more instructional books that cover the history, rules, moves, tactics, tips and all three phases before tackling an exclusive endgame book. Go back and read that endgame chapter from time to time.

Any chess book which does not explain how the pieces move, capture and how to record the moves on paper is probably too advanced for students learning the basic endgame patterns. IT IS BETTER TO READ A CHESS BOOK THAT IS EASY, COMFORTABLE THAN ONE THAT IS TOO DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW.

I am fond of older books printed in English descriptive notation by informed master writers Fred Reinfeld, Al Horowitz, Frank Marshall/Irving Chernev, Larry Evans, and Harry Golumbek. "Chess Made Simple" by Milton L. Hanauer isn't pretty to look at, but it is chock full of useful information. Read Hanauer after you've read a few Fred Reinfeld books a couple of times. The endgame chapters in older books written in descriptive notation tend to be much more thorough than skinnier, modern books that skimp on the endings. (Endgame theory is stable over the years; it has not changed so rapidly like opening theory does. Yes, computers have found alterations in complex endings, but not the basic forced endings that will never change. Forced endgame patterns are concrete and continue to crop up game after game, year after year, to the benefit of the student that learned them way back when and keeps on winning, or drawing games s/he could have lost.) Modern instructive chess books tend to have half the pages but of a fancier design and much lower editing standards. Modern books for beginners tend to be works of art for visual appeal, whereas older descriptive books devoid of art had to produce quality educational information to train the brain.

My algebraic preference is "The Right Way to Play Chess" a revised and updated instructional book originally titled "Beginning Chess" by David Pritchard. "Win at Chess" by William Hartston and Teach Yourself "Better Chess" are recommended. The "... For Kids" series of books is also a good training tool for adult club players as the sound fundamentals of playing good chess certainly makes no distinction by age. A separate series of "Winning Chess" books by Yasser Seirawan and the writings of Lev Alburt have their acclaimed merits if one is willing to read the entire series more than once. Once is just never enough for a good chess book! "Learn Chess", "Learn Chess Tactics", and "Secrets of Practical Chess" by John Nunn are excellent, but most of his other books are way, way too advanced for beginners and intermediates. (Nunn is a grandmaster that primarily writes for other grandmasters.) "Learn Chess in 40 Hours" by Rudolph Teschner is excellent for club players with some prior experience. This book is Volume 11 of the Progress in Ches series of instruction. Australian correspondence champion Cecil J.S. Purdy has written quality instructional magazine articles combined into books (algebraic notation, as virtually all contemporary revisions are) for all levels of players. His writings were applauded by Bobby Fischer, a voracious reader of chess books. A similar type of book for an intermediate player to evaluate his understanding is "The ABCs of Chess" by Bruce Pandolfini. It goes beyond the ABCs and packs more punch than some of his other books. I do like and give personal credit to Pandolfini's endgame books for intermediates and aspiring masters, despite some typos.

Mar-23-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: An instructional masterpiece "The Game of Chess" by Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch is an all-time classic that was written in descriptive notation and re-printed in algebraic notation, the 21st Century edition. It is more challenging than the books written above, but it starts with the basics and covers all the fundamentals. "Three Hundred Chess Games" by Dr. Tarrasch is a highly regarded follow up to help the reader formulate a battle plan. Many players world-wide prefer the wordy writings and hypermodern style of his philosophical arch nemesis Aron Nimzowitsch, who wrote "My System" among others, also available in the updated 21st Century edition. Both authors provide excellent explanations of the endgame. If I could only have one book, it would be Tarrasch's treaties, although the opening theory is outdated and some of his beliefs are not so ironclad. Of course, in today's political propaganda environment of lazy, unintelligent, renewed yellow journalism attempting to pass off opinion and skewed statistics as fact, one has to take whatever information with a proverbial grain of salt anyway. Use Nunn's Chess Openings (algebraic notation) as a general reference for more updated opening theory.

Instructional books by Edward Lasker, Emanuel Lasker and Jose R. Capablanca are also challenging but worthwhile for amateurs and professional players alike. Some of their books have been reprinted in algebraic editions. Translator Julius du Mont has a few books written or co-written in descriptive notation that tickled my fancy. World Champion Dr. Max Euwe and American Champion Reuben Fine have both penned a series of more sophisticated books for beginners, intermediates and advanced players. You can't go wrong by reading their meaty books, but it's not the best place to start for a student needing to learn basic king and pawn endings. Teachers must not overwhelm a youngster with an impossible looking text.

Of course, there are many, many, many good chess books and authors out there. These listed above have barely scratched the surface. There are more books written about chess than all other games combined. Unfortunately, some modern books are written more as a marketing gimmick to be bought and sold than as a proven tool of instruction that withstood critical editing by an informed content editor, as opposed to a graphic designer. Before purchasing a recently published chess book, inquire about the chess credentials of the author and the publishing company. I am grateful for some self-published materials, but not so much in chess materials. That being said, some of the best chess books ever written (usually of an advanced nature) were published in recent years with computer assistance.

Many of the highly informative but colorless older books written in descriptive notation are available for a low price through Dover Publications, or try your local used book store. When purchasing used books on-line, I prefer hard covered books when possible and avoid former library books which are often worn out, stained and messy.

Of course, Amazon Reader, Kindle and other e-books has opened a whole new world to book lovers. So much so, that my comments here are rather archaic, but still useful for the poor, thrifty, underprivileged, or imprisoned person who realizes chess is an inexpensive, yet inexhaustible game for the ages -- anytime, any place, anywhere, any language... with the power to make people happy. Personally, I get more enjoyment sitting down at the chessboard with a book prop of the hard cover version of "The King Hunt in Chess" by W.H. Cozens, introduction by Irving Chernev (revised by John Nunn), than clicking a computer mouse or tapping my finger upon a sensitive touch screen, but whatever trips your trigger as long as you're enjoying this great game after your daily chores are done.

Fool's Mate, Descriptive Notation (DN):
1 P-KB3? P-K4
2 P-KN4?? Q-R5 mate!

Fool's Mate, Algebraic Notation (AN):
1.f3? e5
2.g4?? Qh4#

Fool's Mate, Long form Algebraic:
1.f2-f3? e7-e5
2.g2-g4?? Qd8-Qh4#

Note that Figurine Algebraic Notation (FAN) is represented by the graphic shape of the piece itself instead of it's letter. The squares use the same numbers and letters as algebraic notation.

We leave the last word to Dryden:
All human things are subject to decay,
And when fate beckons, monarchs must obey.

Mar-23-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Upon further review, 66.Kh6 initially looks like a structural error (but it calculates accurately which is all that matters). Instead 66.Kg6 gaining the opposition with an empty square between the king and his passed pawn is a known forced win position at any point it occurs on the file.

For example, White Kd4 and Pd2 against the lone Black Kd6 is a known forced win for White. The extra space between the king and his pawn can come in handy, providing an extra move and placing the opponent in zugzwang, being compelled to move into a worse position. In a single pawn ending, the superior side is always looking to achieve this same file "empty square on either side of the superior king" configuration (excluding each outer rook file). Knowing this versatile structural forced win position of placing your king an empty square ahead of your passed pawn can save you much time when under time pressure.

It can be quiet dangerous refusing to gain the opposition when the opponent allows it! White could have gained the opposition with 66.Kg6 and chose not to! This would be a bad choice in other positions. However, GM Zhang's 66.Kh6 greatly avoids the possibility of eventually stumbling into a known stalemate position Kf7 and Pg6 against the lone Kh8 trapped in the corner but not in check. This lone king in the corner stalemate pattern must be imprinted into your chess brain!

In fact, switching the K&P around is also a stalemate: Pf7 and Kg6 vs. Kh8 1/2-1/2. Furthermore, a White queen could replace the pawn in either position, and it's stalemate of the lone cornered king! Note that the two superior units (king and pawn or queen) are "a knight's move away" from the lone cornered king. Know this stalemate pattern and keep it in mind before you ever move that pawn because the pawn cannot be moved backward. A red flag should wave in your chess brain before you ever move either unit onto a square "a knight's move away" from the lone cornered king.

In the actual game, GM Zhang wisely uses two moves to gain the opposition with 68.Kg6 (instead of 66.Kg6) with a "safer" (less prone to blunder into stalemate) position. If properly played, both moves win, so it is a matter of preference. There is no faulting GM Zhang's move choice; it's works perfectly in this position. Just be aware that promptly gaining the opposition of kings when allowed to do so is often the proper course in other endgame positions.

The concept of triangulation to pass the move is for another time.

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