Today I give you an endgame position that I contested over the board recently. Endings are one part of my all round game that I’ve identified for remedial work. Many of my games never culminate in tight end games due to the fact that I’ve normally secured or conceded a decisive advantage by this stage of proceedings. Never the less if I’m going to improve my results I need to get better at playing endings. Recently I’ve been dipping back into the antique master work “How to Play Chess Endings” by Eugene Znosko-Borovsky and, although the going is heavy I felt like I was starting to make some progress. It seem I was wrong!
The game below gave me my first opportunity to my new found understanding to the test and I fear that I rather let the side down. The most challenging aspect of endgame play is the high degree of accuracy required. Judgement plays less of a role in this stage of the game and calculation becomes much more important. Even the smallest error can change the outcome of proceedings. Take a look at the position below.
White has just offered black the opportunity to exchange the knights off the board (with 33.Nd2) and enter into a king and pawn endgame. Should black accept or decline this offer? My recent studies have taught me that it is wise to have a clear idea of the theoretical outcome of the resultant position and how it should be approached before making a choice. King and pawn endings have concrete assessments you are either “winning”, “drawing” or “losing” there is no “unclear” or “equal” assessment. I figured that I was winning as after exchanging the knights I could play my king to d5 via e6, assume the opposition and eventually break through to win a pawn on the king’s side.
Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. I needed to look more carefully at the situation of the pawns on each side of the board. Who will be able to create a passed pawn most easily and who (without intervention from the enemy monarch) will be able to queen a pawn the quickest? The reality is that black must play with the upmost care to keep control over white’s king’s side pawns.
It’s pretty depressing to think that if it’s possible to make this many errors in a “simple” king and pawn ending then a more complex ending must be very difficult indeed!