In Jesi (Italy) in August, the endgame study subcommittee of the World Federation for Chess Composition (WFCC), chose a study of the year for 2010. They were almost unanimous is choosing a joint composition by two of today’s most active study composers. They believe that their choice is the best one for promoting endgame studies to the general public, which makes it perfect for quoting here!
Sergiy Didukh & Siegried Hornecker
1st HM., Olympia Dunyasi, 2010
White to play and draw
1.g6! With ...axb2 looking dangerous, it seems natural to capture the a-pawn. However, that is a serious mistake, as the following shows. 1.bxa3? hxg5 2.a4 g4 3.a5 g3 4.a6 g2 5.a7 g1Q 6.a8Q Qg8+ 7.Kb7 Qxa8+ 8.Kxa8 Kc6 9.Ka7 Kb5 10.a4+ Kxa4 11.Kb6 Kxb4 12.Kc6 Kc4 13.Kd6 Kd4 14.Ke6 Ke4 15.Kf6 Kf4 16.Kg7 h5 0-1. But if g6 had been available to the white king ... 1...hxg6 1...axb2 is tempting, but both sides promote into a drawn Q-ending - 2.gxh7 b1Q 3.h8Q Qxb4+ 4.Ka7 = 2.bxa3 Compulsory now, with no immediate promotion threats by White. We now have a position where Black can choose which pawn to push and the composers pick the g-pawn. 2...g5 Pushing the h-pawn still draws 2...h5 3.a4 h4 4.a5 h3 5.a6 h2 6.a7 h1Q 7.a8Q Qxa8+ 8.Kxa8 Kc6 9.a4 Kb6 10.a5+ Ka6 11.Kb8 g5 12.Kc7 g4 13.Kc6 g3 14.b5+ Kxa5 15.b6 g2 16.b7 g1Q 17.b8Q = but not with the interesting play the composers had in mind. Both sides now run pawns and promote. 3.a4 g4 4.a5 g3 5.a6 g2 6.a7 g1Q 7.a8Q Qg8+ 8.Kb7! 8.Ka7? Qxa2+ 9.Kb8 Qxa8+ 10.Kxa8 Kc6 0-1 8...Qxa8+ 9.Kxa8 Now, after the queen-exchange, we’re back to a pure pawn-ending. 9...Kc6 10.Ka7! A fine point! It seems that keeping the black king out of b6 and then sacrificing the white pawns to delay the black king is the way for the white king to reach the black pawn. The natural 10.a4? loses to 10...Kb6 11.a5+ Ka6 12.Kb8 h5 13.Kc7 h4 14.Kc6 h3 15.b5+ Kxa5 16.b6 h2 17.b7 h1Q+ 18.Kc7 Qh7+ 19.Kc8 Qf5+ 20.Kc7 Qc5+ 21.Kd7 Qb6 22.Kc8 Qc6+ 23.Kb8 Kb6 0-1 10...Kb5 11.a4+! Dragging the black king to the a-file. 11...Kxa4 11...Kxb4 12.Kb6 Kxa4 13.Kc5 = 12.Kb6! Kxb4 12...h5 13.b5 h4 14.Kc5 h3 15.b6 h2 16.b7 h1Q 17.b8Q = 13.Kc6 The white king crosses the board (ahead of the black king) to save the day. 13...Kc4 14.Kd6 Kd4 15.Ke6 Ke4 16.Kf6 Kf4 And now, with the black pawn on h6 rather than h7, White can play 17.Kg6 Kg4 18.Kxh6 and capture the last pawn to ensure the draw.
I hear rumours that Sergiy Didukh, one of the joint-composers of the above study, has recently announced that he has given up composing studies. Several great composers have made such decisions in the past and most have later changed their minds. I wonder if Sergiy will be an exception to the rule? I do hope not.
In our study for solving White is a great deal of material down, but can still draw. Why not have a go at finding out how?
Zadachi i Etyudy, 2008
White to play and draw
The white king is hemmed in and if White could sacrifice his queen on g7 and force Black to accept, White would be stalemated. However, following this plan immediately leaves Black with an out as the sacrifice may be declined – 1.Qg7+ Kd3! (1...Qxg7? =) 2.Qxh8 Kd2 0-1 So, White must go around the houses first. 1.Qd1+ Rd3 2.Qa1+ c3 Forced, to avoid mate – 2...Rc3 3.Qg1+ Kd3 (3...Re3 4.Qxe3#) 4.Qd1# 3.Qa4+ c4 4.Qa7+ c5 5.Qg7+ Qxg7 =.