Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Catalan Opening Rook Endgame Tool

Critical weapons in your arsenal are tools that give you rating points. I demonstrate with a Catalan Opening. It reminds me of the Gruenfeld Defence reversed with an extra move in hand. White gets pressure along the long light squared diagonal. Books by GM Boris Avrukh got me motivated to give the opening another try when I am in the mood.

The chess tool I referred to above is knowing how to save a common rook ending when you are down one or two pawns. My opponent is the chess engine Rookie. I won a few Blackmar-Diemer Gambits against this program. Here I played the Catalan Opening in the classical variation where Black quickly tried to take over the center with pawns. I rearranged my pieces and counter attacked. Let's look at the endgame.

Rookie got a passed rook pawn pushed to the seventh rank at a2. My White rook was behind the pawn and the Black rook was in front of it. The White king must stay on the squares g2 or h2. My rook must stay behind the pawn. If the Black rook moves away, White chops off the pawn. If the Black king approaches the pawn, White gives check from far behind. Black's king has nowhere to hide from such checks. His extra kingside pawn cannot win. I gained about eight rating points with this draw.

Sawyer (2319) - Rookie (2529), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 08.02.2009 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 d5 6.Bg2 e5 7.Nc2 [7.Nf3 d4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.e3 Be7 10.exd4 exd4 11.Bf4=] 7...d4 8.0-0 [8.f4!?] 8...Nc6 9.e3!? [9.Qd3 Be6 10.Nd2=] 9...d3! [This d3 pawn will become a big nuisance for White. 9...Bg4 10.Qd3=] 10.Nca3? [10.Ne1!= is the only good move.] 10...Bb4 11.Bd2 a5 12.Nc3 Be6 13.Nab5 Bxc4 14.b3 Bxb5 15.Nxb5 e4 16.f3 exf3 17.Bxf3 0-0 18.Kg2 Re8 19.a3 Bxd2 20.Qxd2 Ne5 21.Nd4 Nxf3 22.Nxf3 Ng4 23.Rfe1 Qd5 [23...Rc8-+] 24.h3 Ne5 25.Qf2 Qxb3 [25...Rac8-+ and Black has a crushing position.] 26.Nxe5 Rxe5 27.Rab1 Qd5+ 28.Qf3 d2 29.Red1 Rae8 30.Qxd5 Rxd5 31.Rxb7 Rd3 32.Rb2 Rdxe3 33.Rbxd2 Rxa3 34.Rd8! [White aims for the drawish rook ending reached in this game.] 34...Kf8 35.Rxe8+ Kxe8 36.Rd6 a4 37.Ra6 Ra2+ 38.Kg1 Ra1+ 39.Kg2 a3 40.Ra7 a2 41.h4 h5 42.Kh2 Kf8 43.Kg2 f6 44.Kh2 Kg8 [44...g6 45.Kg2=] 45.Kg2 Kh7 46.Kh2 Kg8 47.Kg2 Kh7 48.Kh2 Kh6 49.Ra5 Kg6 50.Kg2 Kh6 51.Kh2 g5 52.hxg5+ fxg5 53.Ra6+ Kg7 54.Kg2 Kf7 [There is no way for the side with two extra pawns to avoid a draw by perpetual check, unless Black gives up the a2-pawn, which would also lead to a drawn position. Similar would be 54...h4 55.gxh4 gxh4 56.Kh2=] 55.Kh2 Ke7 56.Kg2 Kf7 57.Kh2 Kf8 58.Kg2 Kg7 59.Kh2 g4 [Now we must play 50 moves.] 60.Kg2 Kf8 61.Ra7 Ke8 62.Kh2 Kd8 63.Kg2 Kc8 64.Ra3 Kc7 65.Ra7+ Kb6 66.Ra3 Kc5 67.Ra8 Kb5 68.Ra7 Kc4 69.Ra8 Kb3 70.Rb8+ Kc4 71.Rc8+ Kd5 72.Rd8+ Kc4 73.Rc8+ Kb3 74.Rb8+ Kc3 75.Rc8+ Kb4 76.Rb8+ Kc5 77.Ra8 Kb4 78.Rb8+ Kc3 79.Rc8+ Kd4 80.Rd8+ Ke5 81.Re8+ Kf5 82.Rf8+ Ke6 83.Ra8 Kd5 84.Rd8+ Kc6 85.Ra8 Kc5 86.Rc8+ Kd6 87.Ra8 Kc5 88.Rc8+ Kd6 89.Rd8+ Kc7 90.Ra8 Kd6 91.Rd8+ Ke7 92.Ra8 Kd7 93.Kh2 Kc6 94.Kg2 Kb5 95.Rb8+ Ka5 96.Ra8+ Kb6 97.Ra3 Kb5 98.Ra8 Kc6 99.Ra3 Kd7 100.Ra8 Ke7 101.Ra7+ Kf6 102.Ra6+ Ke7 103.Ra7+ Kf6 104.Ra6+ Ke5 105.Ra5+ Kd4 106.Ra8 Kd3 107.Rd8+ Ke4 108.Re8+ Kd3 109.Rd8+ Ke4 110.Re8+ 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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