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We are still ironing out some wrinkles in the website redesign. In the meantime enjoy this month's Endgame Corner. Please support this column with a purchase from our chess shop.
Queens, Knights, and Knightmares
The material distribution queen and knight against queen and knight is not so well dealt with in the rich literature of the royal game. I want to demonstrate the guideline that a slight initiative weighs heavily, as with the endgame rook and knight against rook and knight.
A) Magnus mighty queen
The queen and knight duo can be very strong when they cooperate well.
157.01 Carlsen,M (2881) - Agdestein,S (2628)
Magnus increases his pressure on the light squares to provoke the opening of inroads.
Now Black cannot stop the invasion of the queen. After 42...Qa5! it is more or less equal, as the following sample line illustrates: 43.Qe4+ Kb6 44.Qa8 bxc4+ 45.Kxc4 (45.Kb2 Kc7 46.Qa7+ Kd8 47.Qb7 Ne7=) 45...Qxa3 46.Qb8+ Kc6 47.Qe8+ Kb6 48.Kd3 Qa1=.
Black cannot defend all inroads.
43...Qb7+ 44.Kc2 Kd7 might be more precise, but White is still much better after 45.Qe4+/-.
44.Kc2 Qa5 45.Qe4+ Kc7 46.Qa8 c4?
Black does not have time for this advance. 46...Kd7! was called for, but White keeps good winning chances after 47.Qb7+ Ke8 48.Qb8+ Kd7 49.Kb3 c4+ 50.Kb2+/-.
This invasion is stronger than 47.Qa7+? Kd8 48.Qxf7?, which is answered by 48...Qxa3 49.Qb7 Ne7! and Black has practical drawing chances.
47...Nh6! was much more tenacious, but still insufficient because of 48.Qe7+ (48.Qxh6? Qxa3 49.Qg7 Qb3+ 50.Kd2 Qb2+ 51.Kd1 Qxc3 52.Qxf7+ Kb8 53.Qxe6 Qd3+ 54.Ke1 Qb1+ 55.Ke2 Qd3+ 56.Kf3 c3 57.Qb6+ Kc8 58.e6 Qb5 59.Qd4 Qc6+ 60.Ke2 Qxe6 61.Qxc3+ Kd7 is not so clear.) 48...Kb8 49.Ne4 Qa4+ 50.Kd2 Qa5+ 51.Ke2 c3 52.Nd6 Qc7 53.Qe8+ Ka7 54.Qa4 Kb6 55.Qb3+ Ka7 56.Kd3+-.
Magnus’s knight joins the attack, which decides the day.
48...Qa4+ 49.Kc1 Qc6 50.Qxf7+ Kc8
50...Ne7 51.Nf6+ Kd8 52.Qf8++-.
51.Nd6+ Kd8 (51...Nxd6 52.Qxe6++-) 52.Qf8+ Kc7 53.Qc8+ Kb6 54.Qb8+ 1-0
Agdestein resigned because of 54...Kc5 55.Qb4+ Kd5 56.Qd2+ Kc5 57.Qa5++-.
B) King safety
The following example also illustrates the guideline that a slight initiative weighs heavily.
157.02 Bruzon Batista,L (2689) - Kiewra,K (2422)
White spotlights the insecure position of Black's king. 31.h5!? was strong as well.
Exchanging queens would be good for Black, but Bruzon Batista can avoid it. The centralising 31...Qe5! almost equalises.
Bruzon values his initiative in this endgame higher than the extra pawn in the knight ending after 32.Nd5+ Ke8 33.Nf6+ Kf7 (33...Ke7? 34.Qf4+-) 34.Nxh7+ Qxf3 35.Ng5+ Kf6 36.Nxf3 Ne4 37.a3 This is remarkable.
32...Qa8 was called for, but after 33.Qd4 Qf8 34.h5 White's initiative is still difficult to deal with.
32...Qe4?! 33.Qh8 h5 34.Qh7+ Kf6 35.a3 with a strong initiative.
Black cracks under the pressure. 33...Nf8! was forced: 34.Nh3 Ke8 35.Ng5 Qd7 36.Qc3 Qd1+ 37.Kh2 h6 38.Ne4 Qe2 39.Qe5 Qd3 40.Kg2 and White has winning chances, but matters are not completely clear.
In this exceptional case the knight on the rim is not dim, but gives White the win.
The next example is similar:
157.03 Paunovic,Dragan (2504) - Perez Garcia,Rodney Oscar (2449)
Black's weak king is a real problem.
37.Nf3 Nd7 38.Ng5?!
38.Qc1+!? is more precise: 38...Kg7 39.Ng5 Nf8 40.Qb1 Qa7 41.Qb5 Qe7 42.Qb8 Qd7 43.Qa8 Qe7 44.Qc8 Kf6 45.f4+-.
38...Nf6! 39.Qb1 Nh7?
39...Qa7! was forced; e.g., 40.Qb5 Kg7 41.Qc6 Qd7 42.Qb6 Kf8 43.Qb8+ Ne8 44.Ne6+ Ke7 45.Kf3 and White is better, but it is not clear if he can win.
What a knight! A real knightmare for Black.
40...Qc8 41.Qc1+ g5 42.Nxg5
42.hxg5+ Kg6 43.f4+- was even stronger.
42...Kg6 43.Nxh7 Kxh7 44.Qg5 c4
44...Qe8 45.Kf3 c4 46.Ke2 c3 47.Qf5+ Kg7 48.Kd3+-.
45.Qxh5+ Kg8 46.Qg5+ Kh8 47.Qh5+ Kg8 48.Qg6+ Kh8 49.Qxd6 c3 50.Qxe5+ Kg8 51.d6 c2 52.Qd5+ 1-0
C) The exchange of queens
The defender wants to exchange attacking potential:
157.04 Cosma,E (2335) - Rendi,E (2116)
This runs into a direct blow. 55...Qg4! is forced, when Black is not worse: 56.Qe2 (56.Qg2 Qd1+ 57.Kh2 f5 58.f3 Nc3=; 56.Qxg4 hxg4 57.Ne2 Ke7 58.Kg2 Nd2 59.Nd4 Ne4 60.Ne2=) 56...Qxe2 57.Nxe2 Ke7 58.f3 Nc5 59.Nc3 Kd6 60.Kf2 Nd3+ 61.Ke2 Nb2 62.Kd2 Kc5 63.Kc2 Nc4 64.Kd3 Nb2+ 65.Kc2 Nc4=.
White's attack cannot be parried.
56...Qc7 57.e4 Ke8 58.Qh8+ Ke7 59.Nc6+ Kd7 60.Qf8 Ke6 61.Qe8+ Kf6 62.Qh8+ Ke6 63.Qd4 Nd7 64.Qd5+ Kf6 65.Qg5+ Kg7 66.Qe7 Qc8 67.Nd8+-.
57.Nc6 Qd1+ 58.Kh2 1-0
Exercises (Solutions next month)
E157.01 Volokitin,Andrei (2666) - Acs,Peter (2518)
How to convert White's advantage?
E157.02 Carlsen,Magnus (2872) - Aronian,Levon (2812)
Aronian solved his problems with one precise move. Can you do the same?
E157.03 Hellsten,Johan (2495) - Ostenstad,Berge (2465)
How did Hellsten make progress?
E157.04 Sandipan,Chanda (2609) - Kaczmarczyk,Dennis (2358)
How to storm Black's castle?
E157.05 Short,N (2683) - Howell,D (2640)
Find Black's only move to draw!
E157.06 Kobalia,Mihail (2633) - Dominguez Perez,Leinier (2757)
What did Dominguez play?
Endgame Corner #157 (Ebook)
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