I am delighted to mention a new book on endgame studies by Jan Timman – The Art of the Endgame. Published by New in Chess, it is subtitled “My Journeys in the Magical World of Endgame Studies&rdquo. Following a preface that tells the story of the author’s interest in studies, there are, amongst others, chapters on miniatures, promotions, mating, stalemating, mutual zugzwang, fortresses and systematic manoeuvres. Timman presents favourite studies by others and tells us how they have inspired him to compose his own studies. This is a rare gem of a book about studies – one that discloses the mind of the composer and explains why he composes what he does and it’s direct from the horse’s mouth. Warmly recommended to experts and beginners alike. Perhaps it will persuade a few of its readers to take their first steps in its Magical World? As an example of Timman’s work, here is his elegant prize-winner from a recent Problemist study award.
2nd Prize, The Problemist, 2008-2009
White to play and win
1.Rd1 a3! Black, wanting to get his rook into the action, plays to open the fourth rank as he has a sacrifice in mind. His other options lose more prosaically than the main line – 1...exf2 2.Bxc7 Re8 3.Kg3 Re2 4.Kg2 Rxb2 5.Ra1 1-0; 1...e2 2.Rg1+ Kh7 3.Bxc7 1-0; 1...f4 2.fxe3 fxe3 3.Bxc7 1-0; 1...Rb8 2.fxe3 Rxb2 3.Rg1+ Kh6 4.Bg5+ Kh7 5.Bf6 Rb5 6.f4 Kh6 7.Bg7+ Kh7 8.Kh5 Rb8 9.Bd4 Rg8 10.Rxg8 Kxg8 11.Bc5 1-0 2.bxa3 Ra4+ 2...e2 3.Rg1+ Kh7 4.Bxc7 Ra7 5.Bf4 Rxa3 6.Re1 Ra2 7.Kg5 1-0 3.f4! The heart of the study and a necessary pawn sacrifice, the reason for which becomes clear later. Retreating the king leads only to a draw – 3.Kg3? Rd4 4.Rg1 (4.Rxd4? e2 =) 4...Rxd8 5.fxe3 Ra8 6.Kf4+ Kf6 7.Rc1 Ra4+ 8.Kg3 Rxa3 9.Rxc6+ Ke5 10.Rxc7 Kf6 = 3...Rxf4+ Of course, the proffered pawn has to be taken – 3...exf2 4.Rf1 Rxf4+ 5.Kg3 Ra4 6.Be7 Re4 7.Bf8 Re3+ 8.Kxf2 Rxh3 9.Rc1 1-0 4.Kg3 Rd4! Black's turn to sacrifice and the idea behind his earlier play. More game-like alternatives are 4...Rxf2 5.Bxc7 Ra2 6.Rd3 e2 7.Kf2 c5 8.Rc3 Kg5 9.Bd6 c4 10.Rxc4 1-0; 4...Re4 5.Bxc7 exf2 6.Kxf2 Ra4 7.Rd3 Rc4 8.Ba5 Rc2+ 9.Kg3 Re2 10.Bb4 1-0; 4...e2 5.Re1 Ra4 6.Rxe2 Rxa3+ 7.Re3 1-0 5.Rxd4 Of course, White must accept or lose his bishop. 5...e2 6.Rd6+! Now White is forced to sacrifice his rook. 6...Kh7 6...Kh5 leads to the same thing as the main line while 6...cxd6 enables White to cover the threatened black promotion with 7.Ba5 1-0. 7.Rh6+! Again the white rook offers itself. 7...Kxh6 7...Kg7 8.Bf6+ Kxh6 9.Bc3 1-0 8.Bg5+! And now the bishop plays its part in what we discover is a plan to force the black king to g5. 8...Kxg5 8...Kg7 9.Bd2 1-0 9.f4+ And that’s why the f3 pawn had to go. This checks the black king and vacates f2 for the white king to put an end to Black’s e2 pawn at last. For instance 9...Kf6 10.Kf2 1–0
Timman writes that the idea of the final 9.f4+ manoeuvre was inspired by the famous “Loman’s move”, which occurred in the simultaneous game Emanuel Lasker – Loman, London, 1910, when Loman sacrificed a rook to force the white king to a square on which it could be checked by a black pawn, which itself vacated a square for the black king to stop a white passed pawn. The composer has introduced this basic idea with some artistic preliminary play, including 5 sacrifices (one of them by Black) prior to the Loman move, itself a further sacrifice.
I am pleased to mention another new publication, this time on the Internet. It is by John Beasley and it is a collection of studies by Richard Réti. John presents the studies with full solutions and, in some cases, provides intriguing information about their composition. An altogether first class presentation and warmly recommended. It is available to read (and download) from the JSB Website. (From the front page select ‘Orthodox Chess’ and then ‘Endgame Studies’.) Besides the Réti material, there is much else on this site to interest the chess composition enthusiast.
Our study for solving this issue is another piece by the Italian player/arbiter/composer Enrico Paoli.
54 Studi Scacchistici (1947-1957), 1959
White to play and win
1.h7 1.d4?? Kf6 2.Ka2 Nc3+ 3.Kb3 Nb5 4.Kb4 Nc7 5.Ka5 Ba7 6.d5 Nxd5 7.Kb5 Bxf2 8.Kc6 Nc3 0-1; 1.Ka2? Kf6 2.Kb3 Nxf2 3.d4 Ne4 4.Kc4 Ba7 5.Kd5 Nc3+ 6.Kc4 Ne2 7.d5 Nd4 8.d6 Nc6 9.Kd5 Nb8 = 1...Be5+ 2.d4 2.Ka2? Nc3+ 3.Kb3 Nb5 4.Kc4 Na7 5.Kc5 Ke6 6.Kb6 Bd4+ 7.Kb7 Nb5 = 2...Bxd4+ 3.Ka2 Nc3+ 4.Kb3 Nd5 4...Nb5 5.Kc4 1-0 5.Kc4 Ke4 6.f3+ 1–0
Developed and maintained by Brian Stephenson.