Shakmaty Bereolos - The Official Chess Site of Peter Bereolos

Games versus GMs

Welcome to my chess page. This is mostly random thoughts and analysis in the form of a chess diary with other sections of the site slowly developing. A lot of the content will come from my own experience. There are two reasons for this. One, so I can use this site as a self-improvement tool. Two, so you the readers will have content that is not found on other chess sites. Follow the link to the left to reach my annotated games against grandmasters. Send me comments and ideas

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Corrections to Basic Chess Endings

5/12/18 - Colias-Bereolos, 1981 Dunes Country Spring Open

My game against Billy Colias at the 1981 Dunes Country Spring Open provides more complex material on queen versus rook and pawn endings. Here, we pick it up a few moves before Q vs. R appears on the board after 58. d7

It is readily apparent that the rook will not be able to stop the White pawn, but Black still has some defensive resources. My choice 58...Kg2 is not the most testing. It does stop White from immediately queening because 59. d8Q? is met by 59...Re1+ 60. Kd5 Rd1+ and Rxd8 winning. However, after 59. e6 Black's pieces are too uncoordinated and Billy finished me off without much difficulty 59...Rd1 60.e7 Rxd7 61.e8Q Rd6 62.Qe7 Ra6 63.Qb4 Rc6 64.Qd2+ Kg3 65.Qe1+ Kg2 66.Ke5 Rc5+ 67.Kd4 Rf5 68.Ke4 Rf8 69.Qe2+ Kg3 70.Qf3+ Kh2 71.Ke3 Rb8 72.Qe4 Rb3+ 73.Kf2 Rg3 74.f5 g5 75.f6 g4 76.f7 Rg1 77.f8Q g3+ 78.Ke2 1-0

Instead of 58...Kg2, 58...Kg4 is a more challenging move. It carries the same idea to stop White from immediately queening and positions Black to be able to capture the remaining White pawns. If White continues as in the game, it appears that Black has a narrow path to a draw, although it would be very difficult to find in practice 59.e6? Re1+ 60.Kd5 Kxf4= 61.e7 (61.Kd6 Kf5! 62.e7 Re6+! 63.Kd5 Re5+! 63...Rxe7? loses a sample line is 63...Rxe7? 64.d8Q! Re5+ 65.Kd6 Re6+ 66.Kd7 Re4 67.Qa5+! Kf4 68.Qd2+ Kg4 69.Qd5 Kf4 70.Qf7+ Kg5 71.Qf3 Re5 72.Kd6 Rf5 73.Qe3+! Kg4 74.Qg1+ we'll see something similar in the note to Black's 63rd move 64.Kd4 Rxe7 65.d8Q! Re4+ Black doesn't have this check in the previous line with the king on d5 66.Kd5 Rf4! and Black will be in time to set up a barrier on the f-file to prevent White's king from entering) 61...Rxe7! 62.d8Q! Re5+! 63.Kd6

65...g5! The only way to draw. I'm not sure how a human would find this move. It is fairly simple to see that Qh8 will fork the rook and h-pawn. Even if you knew for sure that the resulting R+g vs. Q position was a draw, do you really give up a pawn to get there? The seemingly plausible 63...Rf5? loses 64.Qh4+ Kf3 65.Qh3+ Kf4 66.Ke6 Kg5 66...Rg5 67.Qh4+ Rg4 68.Qf2+! Kg5 69.Qf6+ Kh6 White can use his king to create mating threats.70.Kf7 h4 71.Qh8+ Kg5 72.Qe5+ Kh6 73.Qe3+ Kh5 74.Kf6 Rg3 75.Qe2+ Kh6 76.Qd1 h3 77.Qe2 g5 78.Qe4 Kh5 79.Kf5 Rg2 80.Qd4 64.Qh8 Re4 65.Qxh5 g4! 66.Qf7+ Kg3! 67.Kd5 Rf4 68.Qc7 Kf3! 69.Ke5 Kg3! and Black holds.

So does this mean I missed a study-like draw? No. The position after 58...Kg4 is a good training position. What is White's best move?

Instead of entering the labyrith above with 59. e6? White has the killing 59. Ke3! threatening both d8Q and e6. 58...Rd1 trying to steer back into similar waters with 58...Kg3 fails most simply to 59. Ke2 and the Black rook is denied the d1 and e1 squares 59.e6 Kg4 60.e7 Re1+ 61.Kd3 Rxe7 62.d8Q and Black doesn't get to pick up the f-pawn.

As further illustration how difficult this type of position can be for even the best players in the world, I want to present the game between Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk from the 1995 Belgrade Investbank tournament. Both of these super-GMs were in the world top 10 at the time. Gelfand provided notes to the game in Informant 65. From his analysis, we will see that he did not even have access to 5-piece tablebases, and we can see the difficulty presented in analyzing these positions without a computer let alone in playing them over the board.

Some background knowledge on Q vs. R+P that is relavent to this ending. If the pawn is advanced beyond the second rank the defense becomes more difficult. Most of the positions with a bishops pawn or central pawn are lost because there is enough room on either side of the pawn attacking king and queen to squeeze the defense from both sides.

A knight's pawn offers more possibilities for the defense. If the defending king is behind the pawn, the positions are almost always drawn. There are two exceptions: 1. If the attacking king can get all the way behind the defending king crossing both rank and file. 2. The rook gets pinned as we saw in Carlsen-Topalov.

If the king is in front of the pawn, the situation is less clear cut. The primary goal for the defense is to cut the king off along a file as we saw in the analysis of the Colias game, Black can hold with a rook on the f-file cutting off the White king. However, with a pawn on the third rank attacker can work his way in with the king. On the fourth rank or beyond, the rook has extra space to stay safe from forks while maintaining the barrier along the file. The following two positions illustrate the differences.

Here, Black loses. 1. Qh3 Rf4 2. Qg3+ and the king crosses over after either 2...Kf5 3. Kf7 or 2...Rg4 3. Qh5+ and 4. Kf7

With everything advanced one rank, Black holds because his rook has the safe square f8

1. Qh2 Rf8! and White can't make progress even if it was Black to move here, the rook can return to f4

Other good rules of thumb for the defense are to keep the king in close contact with the pawn and avoid getting the rook pinned. All of these are good guideposts to know, but the defense is very fragile and we will see that even a great player like Ivanchuk was unable to cope with the problems that Gelfand set to him.

The queen versus rook and two pawns ending was reached after 62. Qxh8

In the notes below, I've used the Nunn convention for the symbols on the moves rather than those provided in Gelfand's notes. 62...Kg5! Black would prefer to advance his pawn, but that would allow the king to cross over the f-file. [Gelfand gives 62...g5? 63.Kf2 (63.Ke2 Kg3=) 63...Ke4+ (63...g4) 64.Ke2 (64.Kg2 Re5 given as equal by Gelfand is also winning for White.) 64...Re5 He ended the line here with no evaluation, but I presume he felt it was a draw like the other evaluations he gave in this variation. The fastest win for Whtie is 65.Qc8 stopping both pawns from advancing.; 62...Kg4? is also instructive since Black doesn't block the advance of his g-pawn. 63.Qh6! g5 64.Qe6! the pinning theme 64...c4 (64...Kf4 65.Kf2 crosses the king over) 65.Ke2 (65.Qxc4+? Rf4 allows Black to set up the barrier) 65...c3 (65...Kf4 66.Qxc4+ Kg3 67.Qd3+ Kg4 68.Qd7! Kf4 69.Kf2+-) 66.Kd3 c2 (66...Kf4 67.Qe4+) 67.Kxc2 Kf4 68.Kd3 Re5 (68...g4 69.Qe3#) 69.Qf6+ Rf5 70.Qd6+ Kf3 71.Qe6 Rf4 it looks like Black has reached his desired setup, but he needs the king on g3 to prevent White's next. 72.Qh3+! and the king gets separated from the pawn. 72...Kf2 73.Qe3+ Kg2 74.Ke2! Kh2 75.Qe5 winning the pawn] 63.Ke2 Rf7 64.Kd3 Rf3+ 65.Kc4

65...Rf5? This move went uncommented by Gelfand, but that doesn't surprise me. What could be more natural than to guard the c-pawn and put the rook on an anchor square? [Informant doesn't have a symbol for mind blowing, but giving up the pawn with 65...Rf4+ 66.Kxc5 Kg4! secures a draw as the pawn will be able to advance.] 66.Qg7 Kh5 67.Qh7+! Kg5 68.Qh8? That was a nice bit of triangulation, but it lets Black off the hook [68.Kb5 Kf6 69.Kc6 c4 70.Kd6 Rf4 71.Qh6 Kf5 72.Ke7 c3 73.Qh3+ Kg5 74.Qg3+ (74.Qxc3? Kg4!) 74...Kf5 (74...Rg4) 75.Kf7] 68...Kg4 69.Qh6 g5 normally it is undesirable to allow the following pin, but here the c5 pawn helps the defense by robbing White of the d4 square. 70.Qe6 Kf4! 71.Kd3 Re5! [71...g4? 72.Qe3#] 72.Qf6+ Rf5! 73.Qd6+ Re5 [Gelfand gave 73...Kf3 74.Qe6 Rf4? (the narrow path to the draw is 74...c4+! 75.Kd2 taking allows 75...Rf4 and 76...Kg3 reaching a draw. 75...Rf4 76.Qh3+ Ke4! 77.Qg3 g4 78.Qh4 c3+ 79.Kxc3 g3 80.Qh3 Rf3+ 81.Kd2 Rf2+ 82.Ke1 Kf3 after move) 75.Qh3+! Kf2 76.Qh5 c4+ 77.Kc3? (77.Kd2! g4 (77...c3+ 78.Kxc3 g4 79.Qh2+ Kf3 80.Kd2 is also winning) 78.Qh2+! Kf3 79.Qe2+! Kg3 80.Qe5+- is the familiar pin) 77...g4!= I can understand Ivanchuk's reluctance to go for this as the timing of the push of the c-pawn needs to be very precise.] 74.Qf6+ Rf5! 75.Qh6 Re5 [Gelfand gives 75...Rd5+ 76.Ke2 as interesting without further evaluation. Then, the only move to hold is 76...Rd4! which leads to an entirely different class of position than we have been considering. 77.Qh3 Preventing Black from playing Kf4 or Kg4 followed by Rf4 (The white king can cross the f-file, but it doesn't help. 77.Kf2 Rd2+ 78.Kg1 Rd1+ 79.Kg2 Rd2+ 80.Kh3 Rd3+) 77...Ke5!; Gelfand showed 75...Kf3? losing to the pin after 76.Qh3+ Kf4 77.Qe3+ Kg4 78.Qe6+-; and showed 75...Kg3 leads to a draw, which was probably Black's simplest method.] 76.Qh2+ Kf5! 77.Qf2+ Ke6? Gelfand correctly identified this as the losing move. [giving 77...Kg4 78.Qf6 Rd5+ 79.Ke3 Rd4!= which is similar to the lines after 75...Rd5+] 78.Qf3 Kd6 79.Kc4 Ke6 80.Kb5 Rf5 81.Qh3 Kf6 [81...Ke5 82.Kxc5 Kf4+ 83.Kd4+- Gelfand (83.Kd6 is a longer, but perhaps more thematic way to win, see the note to Black's 82nd move.) ] 82.Qh6+ Kf7 Gelfand devotes the largest part of his analysis to the lines following 82...Ke5 83.Kxc5

a) 83...Kf4+ 84.Kd6 (84.Kd4? Gelfand ends his line here, perhaps evaluating it as a win based on the similar position in the note to the previous move. But here the White queen is not on h3, so Black has the saving 84...Kg3! 85.Ke3 Rf3+ 86.Ke2 g4=) 84...Kg4 85.Qe6! pinning! Here it is a little trickier with the king already crossed over the 5th rank, but here is a sample line 85...Kf4 86.Qd7 Kg4 87.Ke7 Kf4 88.Ke6 Kg4 89.Qd1+ Rf3 90.Ke5 Kg3 91.Qg1+ Kh4 92.Qh2+ Kg4 93.Qg2+ Rg3 94.Qe4+ Kh3 95.Kf5 crossing the f-file and winning b) Somewhat strangely, Gelfand does analyze the king going around after 83...Ke4+ 84.Kd6 (Here 84.Kc4 still wins for White since he can prevent the Black king from reaching g3 after 84...Kf4 85.Qg6 Kg4 86.Qe6! the pinning theme again.) 84...g4 85.Qg6 Kf4 86.Ke6 Re5+ 87.Kf6! Ra5 (87...Re3 88.Qf5+ Kg3 89.Kg5+-) 88.Qd3+-; c) 83...g4 84.Qg6 (Gelfand's 84.Qe3+? lets the Black king get back behind the pawn. 84...Kf6+ 85.Kd4 (85.Kd6 is also met by 85...Kg6!=) 85...Rf3? (85...Kg6!=) 86.Qe5+? (86.Qh6+! Kf5 87.Qh5+! Kf4 else the pawn is lost 88.Qe5#) 86...Kg6 87.Ke4 Kh6! holding the draw) ; 83.Kc4 White can't advance the king 83.Kc6?? Rf6+! but with the Black king cut off, the rook cannot maintain the defense of the pawns on its own. 83...Re5 84.Kd3 Ke7 84...Rf5 85.Ke4 Rf4+ 86.Ke5 85.Qg6 Rd5+ 86.Ke4 Rd4+ 87.Ke5 Kd7 88.Qb6 Rf4 89.Qe6+ Kc7 90.Qd6+ Kc8 91.Qxc5+ Kd7 92.Qd6+ Kc8 93.Qg6 1-0

So what lessons do we draw from this ocean of subtle variations? 1. I think first off, the attacking side in these endings needs to be like Magnus and not believe in fortresses. While fortresses certainly exist, they can't always be played mindlessly. Especially, deep in the endgame, fatigue can start to weigh on the defender. 2. The age old endgame theme of "Don't Rush!" In many of the variations of the Colias game, we saw that there was a narrow line to a draw after 58...Kg4, but if White looks to first kill Black's counterplay with 59. Ke3! he avoids a possible draw with a much clearer variation. 3. In a queen versus rook and knight's pawn ending, the mobility of the rook is key. We saw numerous variations above where the queen pinned the rook, which stopped Black from reaching an ideal defensive setup.

5/6/18 - Bereolos-Kudrin, 1986 Midwest Masters Invitational

I've added my first game against Sergey Kudrin to the GM games section. This was the start of a so far unsuccessful duel with Sergey in the exchange Grunfeld (+0 -4 =0 none of which were due to the opening). I had a very nice position, but overplayed it and let him equalize. I then sacrificed a piece to open his king, which should have led to a draw, but instead I blinked at the wrong moment and lost.

This was the 4th edition of the Midwest Masters, which eventually evolved into the US Masters. Sergey went on to tie for first with Joel Benjamin and Yehuda Grunfeld at 4.5/5. I ended up with 1 win, 2 draws, and 2 losses.

5/1/18 - Bereolos-Schmidt, 1992 Indiana State Team Championship

I never gave the queen versus rook ending of my game against Ulrich Schmidt in the 1992 Indiana State Team Championship a very deep look. I knew he could have established a simple fortress, but instead stumbled into a pin and lost his rook. It turns out that there was more subtlety to it than that and I only capitalized on his second blunder. We entereded the queen versus rook ending after 45.Qxc1

Black has a fortress here by moving his rook between g6 and e6. If White manages to put his queen on the long diagonal, the king can go to h7 or g8. 45...Rf4 46.Qc7 Rf5 47.g3 Kg6? There was still time to set up the fortress with47 47...Rg5 and 48....Rg6 Instead, the king comes forward like a goalie leaving the net 48.Kg2? Letting him off the hook, 48.Qe7 is decisive 48...Kg7 (48...Rf6 49.Qxe5) 49.g4 Rf6 50.Qxe5 and because of the pin, Black can't reestablish the fortress. A sample line to show how White worms his way in is 50...Kg6 51.Kg2 Re6 52.Qh8! It is vital to stop the Black king from getting back via h7 or g7. 52...Re4 53.Kg3 Re6 54.Kh4 Re4 55.Qg8+ Kf6 56.Kh5 Re5+ 57.g5+ Ke7 58.Kh6 Re6+ 59.Kh7 Rd6 (59...Rg6 60.Qxg6) 60.Qg7 Re6 61.Kg8 Rg6 62.Qxg6 fxg6 63.Kg7 with a winning pawn ending. 48...f6? He could have corrected things with 48...Kg7! 49.Qc2 Kg5 50.Qe4 1-0

Keres analyzed a similar position from the game Samisch-Prins, with the Black king on e7 so the Black rook can cut the king off from crossing over.

White still wins here by transposing to a winning pawn ending at the appropriate moment. 1. Qh4+ Kf8 2. Qh8+ ke7 3. Kf2 Rg6 4. Kf3 Re6 5. Kg4 Rg6+ 6. Kh5 Re6 7. g4 Rg6 8. g5 Re6 9. Qb8 Rg6 10. Qb4+ Ke8 11. Qe4+ Re6 12. Qxe6+ fxe6 13. Kh6 and wins. I wanted to look at how the game actually continued to pinpoint where where Samisch went wrong. However, the game was not in my database nor in several other online databases that I checked. I thought this was a bit strange since both players are of some reknown having opening variations named after them. This led me on a bit of a research study.

I found two references to this game in books Keres authored ( Practical Chess Endings and The Art of the Middle Game) and attributed to Keres in three others ( Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual, Encyclopedia of Chess Endings and the 3rd volume of Averbakh's Comprehensive Chess Endings). The location was referred to as Hastings 1938 or 1938/39 (the famous Hastings tournament spans the new year so it often gets referenced in different ways). The Keres books give a story that Samisch played inaccurately and allowed the Black King to come to g7 then the game ended in a draw, where Averbakh and Dvoretsky have the draw agreed from the diagram. Further research seemed to indicate that neither player was in the 1938/39 edition of Hastings. Keres did play in the 1937/38 event, so I thought he could have got the date wrong, but I didn't find Prins playing at Hastings until 1945/46 and 1946/47 while I didn't find any time where Samisch played Hastings.

Finally, a found a snippet from the 1939 volume of the British Chess Magazine on Google Books saying that both Samisch and Prins would be playing in the Premier Reserves. So at least I partially solved the mystery. It looks like the games from this event didn't make it into the databases, which is again surprising since Mieses is another notable name in that field. That is where the trail finally went cold for me, although I also turned up an interesting article on the Google Books scanning project.

After that bit of diversion, back to the chess. There are two keys to this fortress are the position of the defending king and rook. In the Samisch-Prins game, Black was unable to get his king in the proper position in front of the White pawn. In my game, Black was unable to establish his rook on an anchor point. These two features are well illustrated by moving the White pawn from g3 to e3 in the Samisch-Prins game.

White to move wins instructively with 1.Qh4+! Ke8 1...Kf8 2.Qd8+ or 1...Rf6 2. Kg2 Ke6 3. Qb4 both force the Black king to abandon e7/e8. 2. Qa4 and the pin decisively compromises the defense.

Instead, Black to move from the diagram holds with 1...Rg6+ establishing the rook on an anchor point. However, Black cannot play completely on autopilot from here. For example, 2.Kf2 Re6 3.Qh4+ Ke8 4.e4 Rg6 5.Ke3 Re6 6.Qh8+ Ke7 7.e5 Rg6 8.Ke4 Re6 9.Kf5 Rg6 10.Qc8 Black must avoid 10...Re6? 11.Qxe6+ fxe6+ 12.Kg6 instead 10...Rh6! and White cannot take advantage of the rook leaving an anchor point.

Finally, in positions with a defending g-pawn versus and attacking f-pawn are always won for the side with the queen because of zugzwang. A very timely example of this is the game a few days ago between World Champion Magnus Carlsen against Veselin Topalov in the Gashimov Memorial tournament.

51...Rf6 [White even wins without his pawn after 51...Rxf5 52.Qe6+! Rf7 again the pin is key to breaking down the fortress. 53.Kxg4! Kf8 54.Qc8+ Ke7 55.Kg5 Rf6 56.Qg8! and the Black pawn falls.] 52.Qe8+ [White can even allow the Black king to the f-file in this situation with 52.Qc8+ but with everything shifted one file to the right, the equivalent of Carlsen's move Qb6-d8+! would be the only way to win. 52...Kf7 53.Kxg4 Rh6 54.Kg5 Rf6 (Black is in zugzwang without the equivalent of the saving 10...Rh6! from the previous example) 55.Qd7+ Kf8 56.Qd8+ Kf7 57.Qxf6+ +-] 52...Kh7 53.Kxg4 Rh6 54.Kf4 Rf6 55.Ke5 Rh6 56.Qe6 1-0

Some lessons from these endings. 1. Don't relax in a drawn ending, you're opponent may give you an opportunity (47...Kg6? in my game or 10...Re6? in the altered Samisch-Prins analysis). 2. You have to be able to recognize endgame themes in different situations. The presence of the black e-pawn and white g-pawn in my game didn't alter a textbook fortress. 3. In trying to win with queen (+pawn) against rook+pawn, two key methods are pinning the rook to the king to break the fortress (50. Qxe5 in the notes to my game, 2. Qa4 in the altered Samisch-Prins position, and 52. Qe6+ in the Carlsen-Topalov game) and transposition to a winning pawn ending at an appropriate moment (62. Qxg6 in the notes to my game, 12. Qxe6+ in Keres analysis, 11. Qxe6+ in the modified Samisch-Prins position, and 57. Qxf6+ in the notes to Carlsen-Topalov)

4/27/18 - BCE-563

I've added position 563 to the BCE section. With this position Fine was trying to demonstrate a general win with Q+RP+NP vs. Q. I think we can forgive Fine for getting this generalization wrong in the pre-computer era. In Nunn's Chess Endings Volume 1, Nunn calls the fact that most postions are drawn with the defending king in front of the pawns "one of the most astounding discoveries" from the 6-man tablebases.

Putting that aside, there were some glaring holes in Fine's main line. Black misses a common stalemate trick and White self mates in one, which Black doesn't play. Compounding the problem is that in the Benko edition the entire line is presented unchanged from the original. You don't need to use tablebases to discover a mate in one!

4/22/18 - Burnett-Bereolos, 1986 US Junior Open

The Kasparov vs. The World ending showed that this type of queen ending is so complex that a strong team with several days to analyze and use of the best engines at the time could still make an error. Indeed, it is somewhat remarkable that there was only one move in the entire endgame (54...b4?) that changed the assessment of the position. In a tournament game with the clock ticking it is expected that there would be several more errors. This is illustrated by my game against Ron Burnett in the 1986 US Junior Open. The 7-piece ending was reached after 48...Qxc5

This position should be drawn and eventually was, but not without serious mistakes by both sides 49.Qe6+ Kh5 50.Qg6+? [An unnecessary check. The White queen was well-positioned stopping both Black pawns from advancing. White should get his pawn moving with 50.e5= so he is ready for e6 with serious counterplay after the queen moves. It isn't clear how Black can even test White here.; Instead 50.Qd5? loses Qf2+! (50...Qxd5+ 51.exd5 h3 52.d6 h2 53.d7 h1Q 54.d8Q is a draw) 51.Kg7 h3 52.e5 h2 53.e6 Qe1 54.Qf3+ Kh4! and White has no good check] 50...Kg4-+ 51.Qe6+ Kg3? [51...Kf4!-+ is pretty simple. Black collects the e-pawn with an easy win.] 52.e5? Now this is too slow. The difference from move 50 is the position of the Black king which can support the pawns. Ironically, the only drawing move is 52.Qd5!= because the attack on the g-pawn gains White a crucial tempo. 52...Qf2+ (52...Qxd5+ 53.exd5 h3 54.d6 h2 55.d7 h1Q 56.d8Q= is a draw, but Black certainly has practical chances after 56...Qe4) 53.Kg6 g4 54.e5 h3 55.e6 h2 56.e7= 52...h3!-+ 53.Qb3+ Kg2? [53...Kh4!-+] 54.Qb7+ Kg3 55.Qb3+? [When defending it is natural to try to repeat the position, but this let's Black correct his mistake. 55.Qe4!= again a centralization with the queen supporting both offense and defense 55...Qf2+ 56.Kg6 h2 57.e6! Qf3 58.Qxf3+ Kxf3 59.e7 h1Q 60.e8Q and the g-pawn will soon be collected since 60...g4? 61.Qa8+ turns the tables] 55...Kh4!-+ correcting the error from move 52 56.e6 Qf5+ 57.Kg7 h2 [57...Qe4 might be a little simpler] 58.Qb8 Qf4! 59.Qxf4+ gxf4! 60.e7 h1Q! 61.e8Q Black should win this ending, but it was drawn after further misadventures as I have previously discussed.

This ending further emphasizes some of the lessons from the Kasparov vs. The World ending. In particular, centralization of the queen (55. Qe4! and 57...Qe4) and taking advantage of your trumps when defending (50. e5). Some other lessons are to not always be quick to give check when defending (50. Qg6+? and 55. Qb3+?) and perhaps the hardest one is to not necessarily repeat a position for a second time (55.Qb3?). This last one is particularly hard to resist, but if the position has changed (the first time the queen started at e6 and the second time it was on b7) the differences need to be appreciated. Finally, another observation on how subtle and difficult queen endings are. The positions after Black's 49th and 51st differ only slightly by the position of the Black king. However, in these positions the moves e5 and Qd5 give opposite results.

4/20/18 - Finegold-Bereolos, 2009 Kings Island Open

I've added my game against Ben Finegold at the 2009 Kings Island Open to the GM games section. I've played many games against Ben dating all the way back to 1979, but this was so far our only game after he achieved his final GM norm. Last year, Ben and his wife Karen Boyd opened the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Atlanta. I finally got down there for a tournament a few weeks ago. It's a very nice, large facility and the turnout for the tournament was great. Hopefully, they will have continued success there.

There wasn't much to add to the game notes from my original tournament report other than a few opening notes. I had a rather decent game until I tried to stir up a kingside attack and ended up losing quickly thereafter.

4/13/18 - Just Like Starting Over

I've been looking at the 7-piece tablebases lately. It's like a bottomless mine for extracting chess gems. I've found a lot of interesting results showing many errors in both my games and analysis. Trying to decipher the reasons for some of the evaluations has been very educational, so I thought I'd restart the blog to share some of what I've found.

My posts will still be fairly infrequent. In today's world of hot takes and tweets I think there is still a place for longform writing. So instead of instant analysis and tournament reports, I'll take my time and hopefully produce polished, worthwhile posts.

In the spirit of starting over, before digging into my own games, I want to look at a famous 7-piece position that was the major topic when this blog started: the queen ending from Kasparov vs. The World 1999. We pick up the action at he start of the queen ending after 50...d1=Q

This is one of the most complicated 7-piece endings that is likely to turn up in a practical game. Queen endings are notoriously difficult, even more so here with all 3 pawns being passed. At the time of this game, there were only 5-piece tablebases available. Ironically, this drove some on the World team to advocate giving up the pawns to reach a solved position, since the Black pawns get in the way in some lines allowing the White King to hide. But in many of the lines, we will see that the pawns are beneficial to Black. I think the lure of the 5-piece ending may have been what eventually doomed Black. Garry now played the tricky 51. Qh7 setting up a discovered check and attacking the b-pawn. This position led to the first big debate among the World team between the natural looking 51...b5 (passed pawns must be pushed) versus 51...Ka1 stepping out of the line of check. The vote ended up going to 51...b5 The oracle now tells us that both moves were good enough to draw, but I wonder how many of those who voted for 51...Ka1 would have played that move over the board. It should be noted that those are the only two moves that draw showing just how tough queen endings can be. For example 51... b6? loses as will be shown below. 52. Kf6+ Kb2 53. Qh2+ Ka1 The move I voted for 53... Ka3? loses 54. Qg3+! Ka2 (54... Ka4 55. Qf4+! brings the queen to an even better position than f2) 55. Qf2+! stopping Black checks on d4 or the f-file 55...Ka3 (55... Ka1 56. g6 b4 57. g7 is similar) 56. g6 b4 57. g7 Qg4 (57... Qd5 58. Qg3+ and queens) 58. Qf5 Qd4+ 59. Kg6 Qc4 60. Qf3+ Kb2 (60... b3 61. Qa8+) 61. Kf6 (threatening Qg2+) 61...Qd4+ 62. Kf7 Qa7+ 63. Kg6 Qg1+ 64. Kh6 b3 65. Qd5 centralizing and controlling the queening square 65...Qe3+ 66. Kg6 Qg3+ 67. Kf7 Qf4+ 68. Ke8 Qa4+ 69. Kf8 Qf4+ 70. Qf7 here the Black d6 pawn is in the way 70...Qh6 71. Qf5 (preparing Kf7) 71...Kc1 72. Kf7 b2 73. g8=Q b1=Q 74. Qg1+ winning 54. Qf4 b4? The losing move, which nevertheless got nearly 60% of the vote. Black had two moves to hold 54... Qd3, which got my vote, guards both pawns, angles for perpetual check and makes use of the Black pawns 55. g6 Qc3+ (without the pawn on d6, this move could be met by 56. Qe5! transitioning to a winning pawn ending.) 56. Kf7 Qc7+ 57. Kg8 (57. Kf8 Qb8+! 58. Kg7 b4! was my line at the time, which also gives enough counterplay to hold) 57... Qc4+! this move is not possible if Black only plays his pawn to b6 on move 51. The other drawing move is 54... Qd5 controlling the queening square 55. g6 b4! using the b-pawn to create counterplay. Again, this is not possible with the pawn on b6. 56. Qxb4 (56. g7 b3!) 56... Qe5+! 57. Kf7 Qd5+ 58. Ke7 Qe5+ with perpetual check) 55. Qxb4 mate in 82. The World might have been misled by the fact that without pawn d6 here the 5-piece tablebase shows a draw. Indeed, most of the remaining positions in the game are drawn without the Black pawn. While the win is still complicated, I'm not going to add a whole lot to the remaining moves. I didn't see any glaring errors in my original postings other than the evaluations at the end of various lines are always still wins for White. The Boss did not allow any further chances and the 6-piece ending has already been much discussed in the years since the game ended including previously by me. Some of the first 6-piece tablebases were created just to get to the bottom of this ending. 55...Qf3+ 56. Kg7! Only here. 56. Ke7? Qe3+ 57. Kf6 Qe5+ and Black gets perpetual. 56. Kg6? blocks the pawn from advancing so Black will hold with 56...d5 56...d5 This was the move that Kasparov thought was the loser. My vote went to 56...Qe3 not allowing Qd4 and if 57. g6? Qe5+ Black achieves a perpetual, but White still wins by repositioning his queen before pushing the pawn 57. Qa5+ Kb2 58. Qb5+ Ka1 59. g6 57. Qd4+! Kb1 58.g6! Qe4 59. Qg1+ Kb2 60. Qf2+ Kc1 61. Kf6 d4 62. g7 the World did not play the most resisting defense, so now it is down to mate in 28. 1-0

Some of the lessons from this ending are: 1. Differences between actual positions and theoretical ones must be carefully considered. In this game, it is easy to give an incorrect evaluation of "draw" on the basis of "drawn even without the Black d-pawn" 2. Centralization of the queen can be very powerful because of the numerous squares it controls from the center of the board. 54...Qd5 and 57. Qd4+ are examples of this. 3. Always be on the lookout for counterplay. The main trump in the Black position was the passed b-pawn, Black shoudn't have been in a hurry to give it away. 4. Continually set problems for your opponent. Although the position was drawn, Kasparov managed to create difficult options that even a team of strong players using the best computers of the time were not able to overcome.

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Stats since June 1, 2006