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

Monday, 25 February 2013

4NCL Echoes: Mating By Two Knights

When I was walking around the playing room, just to stretch my legs during our match against Wessex, I had a quick look at the board where Jim Burnett (2143), my team mate from Worksop, where I appear from time to time as a guest, terribly suffered in an ending which is not quite common on our chess boards.
Jim's opponent, Malola Prasath (2076), gained a small advantage in the ending King, Bishop & Knight and pawns against King, two Knights and pawns.
Jim did not want to suffer and he decided to sort his problem radically and he sacrificed both light pieces and went for the ending King & Pawn vs King & two Knights. It was brilliant defensive idea but the move order should have been slightly different perhaps. Let's have a look at what happened in the game:

So was there anything what White could have done better? Well, like I said, the same idea, but several moves later...

Theory of this ending is very much connected with the name of Russian theoretician Alexey Troitsky who analysed similar positions quite extensively and came up with his idea of so called "Troitsky line"Troitsky established that if a pawn is blockaded (by one of the opponent's Knights) on a square no further forward than the line a4–b6–c5–d4–e4–f5–g6–h4, then stronger side can win the resulting endgame no matter where the other pieces are placed. However, the checkmate procedure is difficult and long. In fact, it can require up to 115 moves, so in competition often a draw by the fifty-move rule will occur first.
Since many of the wins when the pawn is blocked on or behind the Troitzky line require more than fifty moves (and thus would be draws under the fifty-move rule) Karsten Müller asked for the "second Troitsky line", which corresponds to where the knights can win without the fifty-move rule coming into effect. If defender's pawn is blocked by an attacker Knight on or behind one of the line, White can force a win within fifty moves. In details, read the article under this link, and also two volume article written by Karsten Müller (The Damn Pawn Part 1 & Part 2) for Chesscafe.com.
So have we learnt anything from this above mentioned game? Well, my opinion is that only player with two Knights can play for win and therefore no matter what theory says he can play until the draw according to 50 move rules can be claimed. In over-the-board game, a defender can slip any time, and only the defender is under double pressure - pressure from the position and pressure from the running time.

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