Saturday, April 5, 2014

A very deep intricacy in a well known position!


I have a habit of buying a chess book in every tournament that I participate. I have to agree that there are many unread books in my library, but in general I like to keep building up my library. I hope one day I can have a collection of chess books like the great chess player Late GM Lothar Schmid!
Late GM Lothar Schmid who had one of the best collection of chess books in the world.

Anyway! The main reason I write this is because I particularly liked one book that I bought recently.
The name of the book is Amateur to IM and it is written by an International Master named Jonathon Hawkins.

The wonderful thing about this book is that it has material which is basic but is so very well explained. Also some of the material which I thought I knew so well revealed some very interesting points. 
I would like to bring to your notice the following position which I think contains a very beautiful point which is not known to even extremely strong players.

My question to you is this: Its white to play. What will you play?

Just before you close this article by thinking that it is too basic, I must warn you to have a deeper think!
If you ask any knowledgeable chess player, his answer will most probably go something like this.
"The black king is cut off by 4 files from the pawn.This is the required distance to win the position. Hence this is a theoretically winning position and hence the right move is 1.a7."

For those who did not know how to win this position, here is the winning technique which is not so straightforward.

So, yes this position is totally winning for white. a7 is a theoretically winning move. Why in the name of God then did I give you this position? Is it an april fool trick? Or am I trying to waste your time?
Certainly not! Here's the difference between a position that you know well and one which you know very very very well.
After 1.a7, the problem is that white is winning but black has the amazing defensive resource

the rook on the 3rd rank is very well placed because after white sacrifices his rook to make a queen, white will not be able to win the black rook and will have to win a queen vs rook ending. Here is how it will pan out.

White has made a queen but there is just no easy way to win the black rook on h3. White will have to play another 30-40 moves and show some good technique in order to take  the full point home.

Lets go Back to the initial position. From what I have shown, it will be very clear to you now that the right move for white in the first position is to play

Denying black the very important third rank! This makes sure that white will not have to play the Queen vs Rook endgame and will be an entire queen or rook up!

Black now can wait on the first rank but as we know the rook on the first rank will be lost. On the 2nd rank too the rook is lost in queen checks as will be shown. And the 4th rank is useless as it allows white king to come out. Hence black is absolutely lost here! Here are the moves:

So, here is my question to you, what would you play on the first move?

Would you play a7 or Re3!
Both the moves win, but here is the difference between a good technical player and a bad technical player.

This reminds me of one example which fits in perfectly.

Its white to play and draw. How would you do it?

There are 2 ways to draw here. The first one is to play 1.Kf8 Kf6 2.g8=N+ and this position is a theoretical draw. 
But as Karsten Mueller says 1.Kg8! is good technique! Kg6 2.Kh8! and after black takes Rg7. Its an immediate stalemate!
You might argue with me that Kf8 and Kg8 are relatively of the same merit as they both lead to the same end, but I say that the means to reach the end are also important. While one gives the opponent some hope for a positive result, the other gives the opponent absolutely no chance!

The definition of technique in the dictionary is something like this:
A way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.
If you carry out the procedure well, the result is bound to fall in place! That's what good chess technique is all about!

I hope I have convinced you that the position which I had given to you at the start is not so trivial as it seems at first glance and that 1.Re3! is a move which shows a very high level of technical mastery in the game of chess.


Good technique always comes with good knowledge!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Sagar,

    Congrats on your wedding ! I am DK Gupta, editor, Chess India Magazine, Delhi.

    Can you pl call me back on my number 09811343119 or sms your phone number so that I can contact you. Regards