Chessblogging: it’s fun to whoop a higher-rated player in the endgame.

Another three minute online game, but this guy had 300 ratings points on me. But I’m actually a much better endgame player than I should be for that rating (if I have chess strengths, they are sacrificial attacks and endgames — a very weird combination, it’s true), and he let me get into an endgame…

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd3 Qa5 7. Bd2 Nc6 8. Nb3 Qc7 9. Qf3 Ne5 10. Qe3 a6 11. f4 Nc4 12. Bxc4 Qxc4 13. O-O-O Bxc3 14. Bxc3 Qxe4 15. Qxe4 Nxe4 16. Bxg7 Rg8 17. Bd4 Rxg2 18. Rdg1 Rxg1+ 19. Rxg1 d5 20. Rg7 Ke7 21. Rxh7 b5 22. Nd2 Nxd2 23. Kxd2 Bd7 24. c3 Rg8 25. Rg7 Rxg7 26. Bxg7 f6 27. h4 Kf7 28. Bh6 Kg6 29. Bf8 e5 30. fxe5 fxe5 31. Be7 e4 32. Ke3 Kf5 33. Bf8 Be6 34. h5 d4+ 35. cxd4 Bxa2 36. h6 Bg8 37. d5 Kg6 38. Kxe4 a5 39. d6 Be6 40. Ke5 Bd7 41. Kd4 a4 42. Kc5 Kf7 43. h7 {Black resigns} 1-0

The last move was a blunder… I’ve actually been trying out lines. There are a lot of draws in there, e.g., 42…. Be8 43. Kb6 b4 and then either 44. Kc5 b3 and I can’t abandon the queenside pawns long enough to discipline his bishop, or 44. Kc7 a3 45. bxa3 bxa3 46. d7 Bxd7 47. Kxd7 a2 48. Bg7 1/2-1/2. I’ve run a couple of other lines, and they look like draws too. e.g. 42. … Be8 43. Kb6 b4 44. Kc7 a3 45. Bg7 axb2 46. Bxb2 Kxh6 47. Kb6 Kg6 48. Kc5 b3 49. Kb4 Kf7 50. Kxb3 Ke6 51. Ba3 Kd7 1/2-1/2

but I think there’s a a really cute trappish win for me even without the huge blunder. No way would I have found it under that time control, but:

42. … Be8 43. Kb6 b4 44. Kc7 a3 45. Bg7 a2?

That 45. … a2 looks like a better move than the drawn 45. … axb2 line given above — after all, who can turn down a passed pawn one square away from promotion, and with nothing nearby to bother it? But it’s a trap:

46. b3! and death follows shortly… immediate promotion doesn’t work: 46. … a1=Q 47. Bxa1 Kxh6 48. d7 Bxd7 49. Kxd7 1-0. But neither do waiting moves: 46. … Kh7 47. d7 Bxd7 48. Kxd7 1-0. etc. etc.

The trick in that little trap (which would have been, as noted, optional) is that black needs to trade pawns — trading pawns in a position like that is vastly more important for preserving the draw than keeping the passed pawn as a threat. I was going to win his bishop shortly anyway, and his object needed to be to set up the position such that there simply weren’t any pawns left on the board afterward. After the 45. … a2 line, the b pawns are untouched, and my spare bishop can get there much faster than his king.

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