"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cursed Rook Endings ...

Last Thursday we had coaching lesson at King's and by circuitous way we (my students and I) got to the rook endings (how many times have you heard something like that?). We analysed the game of grandmaster Mark Hebden played by Black against Antonio Pont Mulet nearly 20 years ago. After White's 33rd move (33.Ke2) the game reached following position:

 Oviedo rapid, Oviedo (2), 1993
 Pont Mulet,Antonio - Hebden,Mark (2530), Oviedo rapid, Oviedo (2), 1993. Black to move

Now the endgame plan is as follows:
  1. to create another distant passed pawn on the queen-side,
  2. to restrict the activity of White Rook by advancing the h-pawn on the second rank,
  3. opponent's King will be bound to the squares a2 and b2 only because otherwise there is some tactics on the second rank,
  4. advancing the queen-side pawns to restrict the White King even more, taking control over either b2 or a2 square
  5. to queen the pawn. 

33... Rb6 
An attack on the pawn structure with the aim to weaken it. 34.b3 cxb3 
Structure was not only weakened but also Black has also improved his pawn structure by exchanging one of his doubled pawns. 
35.axb3 Kd7 
[35...Rh6 36.c4-+] 
36.Rg5 Rh6 37.Rg7+  
[37.Kd3 b6-+] 
37...Kd6 38.Kd3 Rh3+ 39.Kd2  
[39.Kc4 Rh4+ 40.Kb5 a6+ 41.Ka5 Rh1-+] 
This move is cementing the queen-side. 
[40.Rf7 b6-+] 
40...b5 41.Kb2  
[41.Rg8 Kc5-+] 
41...Kc6 42.Rf7  
[42.Rg5 Kb6-+] 
[42...h5 43.Rf8-+] 
[43.Rf8 h5-+] 
Black King is now protected against checks from the side. Black intends to play ...b4 to cement the queen-side and then he will launch the h-pawn march. 
44.Rf7 b4 45.Rg7  
[45.Kc1 Rh2-+] 
White King movement is restricted. 
46.Rf7 h5 
Black passed pawn is marching to the h2-square. 
47.Rf5 h4 48.Rh5 h3 
White rook's movement will be restricted by advanced passed h-pawn.  
[49.Rh4 h2-+] 
Has Mark Hebden lost the the plan? The shortest way to victory was probably 49...h2!? 50.Kb2-+ a4 51.bxa4 (51.Rh6 a3+ 52.Ka2 Kc5 53.Rh5+ Kd4 54.Rh3 c5 55.Rd3+ Ke5 56.Rh3 Ke4 Now white rook has no check on the 3rd rank and cannot leave the h-file. Zugzwang. 57.Rh7 Kf3 58.Rh8 Ke3 59.Rh3+ Kd2-+) 51...c5 52.Rh8 c4 53.Rb8+ Kc7! 54.Rxb4 Rd1 55.Rxc4+ Kd6 56.Rh4 h1Q] 
50.Rh6 Kd7 51.Kb2 c5 52.Rh7+ Kd6 53.Rh5 
An attempt to stop centralization of Black King. 
53...Kc6 54.Ka2  
[54.c4 bxc3+! 55.Kxc3 h2-+]
54...Kb5 55.Kb2  
[55.Rh8 h2-+] 
Now, white King is bound to squares b2, a2 and White cannot play anything like c2-c3. 
56.Rh8 a4 57.Rb8+  
[57.Ka2 a3-+; 57.bxa4+ Kxa4 58.Ra8+ Kb5 59.Rb8+ Kc6 60.Rc8+ Kb6 61.Rb8+ Kc7 62.Rh8 c4 63.Ka2 b3+ (63...c3 64.Rh6 b3+) 64.cxb3 c3! (64...cxb3+?= Draw if you know how! 65.Kb2 Kb6 66.Rh5 Ka6 67.Rh3 Kb5 68.Rh4 Ka5 69.Rh3 Kb4 70.Rh4+ Kc5 71.Rh5+ Kd4 72.Rh4+ Ke3 73.Rh5 Kf3 74.Rh7 Kg2 75.Rg7+ Kf1 76.Rf7+) 65.Rh3 Kd6 66.Rh6+ Kd7 67.Rh7+ Ke6 68.Rh6+ Kf5 69.b4 c2 70.Rh5+ Kg4 71.Rh8 c1Q] 57...Kc6 58.Rh8 a3+!  
Another restriction of White King, after which c2 becomes a serious weakness and it soon falls down. 
59.Ka2 Kd5 60.Rh7 Ke4 61.Rh8 Ke3 62.Rh5  
[62.Rh7 Kd2 63.Rh4 Kd1-+] 
62...Kd2 63.Rh4  
The c5-pawn is untouchable. 
63...Kc1 64.Rh3  
[64.Rh5 c4 (64...Kxc2?! 65.Rxc5+ Kd2 66.Rd5+ Ke2 67.Rd2+ Kxd2=) 65.Rh4 c3-+ (65...Kxc2?! 66.Rxc4+ Kd1 67.Rc2=) ] 64...Kxc2 
Mission accomplished! 
65.Rh4 Kd1 and White resigned. 
[65...Kd1 66.Rh8 c4-+ 67.bxc4 Kc2 68.Rh3 b3+ 69.Kxa3 (69.Rxb3 Ra1+!) 69...b2 70.Kb4 b1Q+]

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