I came across the following ending in the lastest issue of Chess Informant (#84). It is position #2 in the endgames section. With Black to move, the position is evaluated as equal.
The game ended in a spectacular draw after 1... d5 2. c6 g5 3. exd5 Kd6 4. Kf3 Kc7 5. c4 Kd6 6. c5 Kc7 7. Kf2 g4 8. hxg4 e4 9. g5 h3 10. g6 e3 11. Ke3 h2 12. g7 h1Q 13. g8Q Qf3 [1/2:1/2] In the notes, GM Nogueiras awards Black's first move 2 exclamation points and dismisses 1...dxc5 as winning for White after 2. Kf3 Kf6 3. Kg4 g5 4. Kh5, but this is clearly wrong since White is lost after 4...c4 as 5. Kh6 loses to the breakthrough 5...g4 and 5. Kg4 Kg6 6. Kf3 Kh5 followed by 7...g4 is also winning for Black.
I thought perhaps there might be a typo in the diagram and the White pawn was on a2 instead of a3 when the extra tempo reverses the evaluation after 4. Kh5 c4 5. a3. However, if that was the case, White could also use this move in the game continuation to win with 7. a3 instead of 7. Kf2. Likewise, if the pawn started on c2 instead of c3 then White would win with 5. c3 Kd6 6. c4 Kc7 7. c5
It may just be a case of blindness on the part of both the annotator and the player of the Black pieces. I tried to track down the complete game score, but was unsuccessful. I found a FIDE rating report for the "VII Copa Union de Reyes" in Cuba in January, which was won by Dayron Huerta and in which Boris Martinez also participated. I assume that is the tournament in which the game in question took place, but I could not find any game scores from the event. Perhaps a reader with better resources than me can find it. Unsurprisingly, the logs of pageviews for this site do not show any visitors from Cuba, so I'm not counting on anything straight from the source.
In addition to the possiblities in the recently discussed Topalov-Leko game, I have also come across a few other interesting pawn endings in the past several months that I'm going discuss in the next few posts.
In his past few articles at the Chess Cafe, GM Muller has been discussing bishop endings. This inspired me to take a look at the bishop endings that I have played (more on those some time in the future). I found the following pawn ending after the bishops had been exchanged in my game as Black against Ron Pasik in the 1980 World Open.
The bishops have just been exchanged on c5. 50... Kc7 It would be a mistake to play actively with 50... Ke6? 51. f4 (not 51. Kb6? Kxe5 52. Kxb7 Kd4 -+) 51... g5 (backing up with 51... Kd7 also fails as either g6 becomes a weakness or White is allowed a breakthrough 52. Kb6 Kc8 53. c5 Kb8(53... h6 54. h4 h5 55. c6 bxc6 56. Kxc6 Kd8 57. Kd6 Ke8 58. e6 +-) 54. h4 Kc8 55. h5 gxh5 (55... Kb8 56. hxg6 hxg6 57. c6 bxc6 58. Kxc6 Kc8 59. Kd6 Kd8 60. e6 +-) 56. f5 h4 57. f6 +-) 52. fxg5 Kxe5 53. Kb6 Kd4 54. c5 Kd5 55. h4 Kd4 56. h5 Kd5 57. h6 Kd4 58. Kxb7 Kxc5 59. Kc7 Kd5 60. Kd7 Ke5 61. Ke7 Kf5 62. Kxf7 Kxg5 63. Kg7+- 51. f4 51. h4 b6+ will likely transpose to the game 51... b6+ 52. Kb5 Kb7 53. c5 bxc5 54. Kxc5 Kc7 55. Kd5 Kd7 56. Ke4 Ke6 57. h4 h6 58. Kf3? Necessary was 58. h5! with the idea of restricting Black's king after 58...gxh5 59. f5+ with a draw e.g., 59...Ke7 60. Kf4 Kd7 61. Kg3 Kc6 62. Kh4 Kd5 63. e6 Kd6 64. Kxh5 Ke7 58... Kf5 59. Kg3 Ke4? 59... g5! was winning 60. fxg5 hxg5 61. h5 (61. hxg5 Kxg5 and Black will collect the e-pawn with a win) 61... Kxe5 62. Kg4 Kf6 63. h6 Kg6 64. h7 f5+! 60. Kg4 Kd4 61. h5 gxh5+ 62. Kxh5 Ke4 63. Kxh6 Kxf4 64. Kg7 Kxe5 65. Kxf7 [½:½]
It seems to me that Black's breakthrough is a bit unusual for pawn endings. Generally a breakthrough leads to the creation of a passed pawn that can't be caught. This example is more of a tactical breakthrough with very limited material where Black gains a decisive material advantage. I thought the lines in the note to Black's 50th where the g6 pawn turns out to be a target were also a bit unusual, but that one would seem to fall under the category of "Better King Position".
The new FIDE rating list is out at the FIDE Online site. The big news on this list is that FIDE has begun rating players below 2000. In this first step, the list has been extended down to 1800 and the plan is to go all the way to 1000. My first impression is that this is a good move. Having more rated players should improve the accuracy of the list as long as they stick to their current policies regarding the rate and number of games per day to qualify as FIDE ratable. This should also further help to combat the problem of sandbaggers in the lower sections of big money US events. On the downside, I don't know if suddenly adding a large number of low rated players to the list will cause deflation in the more stable upper levels. I guess time will tell.
There was not much change at the top. Garry Kasparov (2838), Vladimir Kramnik (2809) and Vishy Anand (2755) played no games in the rating period and remain 1-2-3. Kramnik's long awaited match with Fritz starts tomorrow and I hope that after he disposes of the silicon opponent he will finally get back to playing carbon-based players. Anand still holds a small lead over a tight bunch of players. Mikey Adams(2745) is still clinging to the #4 spot, but right on his heels are 3 players all rated at 2743. They are Veselin Topalov, Peter Leko, and Ruslan Ponomariov. #8 Evgeny Bareev(2737) is a bit further back followed by another gap with Vassily Ivanchuk(2709) and Alexander Morozevich(2707) rounding out the top 10.
Leko's performance at Dortmund made him one of the big winners in the top 100 with a 26 point gain. Only Loek van Wely(#22, 2681) gained more with +36. Of course this follows a familiar pattern for King Loek. Look for him to gain around 20 more points on the next list and then make a big donation at Wijk aan Zee in January.
Russia still dominates the top 100 with 23 players. Germany, with 7 players, took over the second spot from the US, which now only has 6 (Novikov, Gulko, and Yermolinsky dropped out). Interestingly, neither of these two countries has any player in the top 40. On the flip side, Hungary and Israel each have 3 players in the top 100 and all 6 are in the top 40.
Alexander Onischuk (#41, 2649) still holds the top US spot, but Gregory Kaidanov (#43, 2646) is now right behind him. Alexander Goldin (#58, 2630) had a nice 21 point gain to edge ahead of Yasser Seirawan (#59, 2629). Alexander Shabalov (#69, 2621) and Joel Benjamin (#85, 2609) are the other Americans in the top 100.
As expected, I lost a few points from my mediocre Chicago Open. I dropped 5 points to 2302, which was also enough to drop me 17 spots to #167 among active US players.