Endgame technique is a very important portion of any professional player’s preparation. Capablanca won many games thanks to his legendary “perfect technique”, but lots of GMs nowadays spend a lot of their time finding lethal opening weapons and do not care much about endgames: this is one of the reasons why you can (sometimes) see strong players blundering when a game reaches its final stage. Obviously this doesn’t happen every time and, thanks Caissa, Fabiano Caruana plays endgames well enough to convert a better position in a full point (the game looks still incomplete on the official site, but I hope tomorrow the complete version will be available). His and Godena’s victories were providential, after Borgo lost to Michalik and Mogranzini drew with Smolen in the fourth round of the 2007 Mitropa Cup: this way Italy finally won against Slovakia, 2.5-1.5, and is now leading a point and a half over France and Czech Republic. Italy-France will be tomorrow's crucial match: we won the 2006 Soccer World Cup by beating them in the final game and I hope our chess team will be able to do the same :-). Official site and hopefully live coverage of the match: www.sakkversenyek.hu. Updated news on my Italian site by clicking here.
In spite of “Sofia rule”, all games were drawn in the second round of the 2007 Mtel Masters. Well, I do not absolutely mean the players didn’t fight, on the contrary there was a great battle on every chessboard. Topalov and Adams had one bishop each when the Chief-Arbiter agreed the position was equal enough to be completely drawn! Mamedyarov and Nisipeanu still share the lead with 1.5 out of 2; Adams and Sasikiran are half a point behind, while Topalov and Kamsky have 0.5 each. Official site: http://www.mtelmasters.com. Updated news in Italian, games and on-line viewer on my Italian site www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link to the Mtel section: http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/mtel07.html).
Speaking again about endgame technique, German GM Arkadij Naiditsch displayed a perfect one today in his last round duel at the 2007 Baku Chess Festival (aka President’s Cup). English GM and former world championship finalist Nigel Short fought hard with a rook and some pawns against his opponent’s queen, but Naiditsch finally won the game and the tournament (with a total score of 7.5 points out of 9). Official site: http://www.chessclub.az/kubok2/index.htm.
Here is the above mentioned (end)game. Go to move 56 (with Black to move) and carefully look at the position.
Short,N (2691) – Naiditsch,A (2654), Baku 11.5.2007
Black could win even by playing 56…Rh5 or 56…Rc5, but this is a much more brilliant and effective continuation.
57…g1=Q 58.g6 Qd1+ 59.Ke3 Qg4 60.Rf1 Kg2 61.Rf2+ Kg1 62.Rc2 e5!
There’s no hurry to take the “g6” pawn. This move prevents White king from helping the “c” pawn to be promoted.
63.c5 Qxg6 64.c6 Qg5+ 65.Kd3 Qd8+ 66.Ke2 Qc7 67.Kf3 a4! 68.bxa4 b3!
Black is giving up all his Queen side pawns! Is he going crazy? No, he just want to simplify the position as much as possible.
69.axb3 Qf7+ 70.Ke2 Qxb3 71.Kd2 Qb4+ 72.Kc1 Qa3+ 73.Kb1 Qb3+ 74.Kc1 Qe3+ 75.Kb1 Qxe4
Black has finally achieved his purpose: now he too has a passed pawn.
76.c7 Qb7+ 77.Kc1 Qc8 78.Rc4
78.a5 was not better, e.g.: 78…e4 79.Kd2 Kf2 80.Kd1+ Ke3 81.a6 Qh8 82.Re2+ Kf3 83.a7 Qa1+ 84.Kc2 Qa6! 85.Rd2 Qc6+ 86.Kb1 e3 87.Rc2 Qb6+ 88.Rb2 Qa6 -+ (89.Ra2 e2!! 90.Rxa6 e1=Q+ 91.Kb2 Qe2+ followed by …Qxa6).
78…Kf2 79.Kd2 e4 80.Rxe4 Qxc7
This is not a simple position to win for a “common” player, but Naiditsch doesn’t take much time…
81.Kd3 Kf3 82.Rc4 Qd6+ 83.Kc2 Qb6 84.Kc3 Ke3
Black king comes into action!
85.Rb4 Qa5 86.Kc4 Kd2 87.Kb3 Kd3 88.Rh4 Qb6+ 0–1
After 89.Rb4 Qc5 White has no good move: 90.a5 (to avoid mate) Qxa5 91.Rh4 Qd5+ 92.Ka3 Qd6+ 93.Kb3 Qe6+ 94.Ka4 Kc3 95.Kb5 Qe5+ 96.Ka4 Qe8+ 97.Ka5 Qd8+ 98.Kb5 Qxh4 etc.