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|Elementary endgames (Part 10)|
|An introduction to endgame studies, especially the theme of domination.|
The last article in the About Chess series on elementary endgames (for previous articles see the link box at the bottom) is an introduction to endgame studies. A chess study is a position constructed by a composer, rather than a position which has occurred in a game between two opponents.
Our guide is Genrikh Moiseevich Kasparian (1910-1995, born Tbilisi, Georgia), also known as Henrikh Moiseyevich Kasparyan (or by any other combination of forename, patronym, and surname!). Kasparian, a FIDE Grandmaster of Chess Composition, authored Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies (1974).
The following diagram shows an example of what we mean by domination. The Bishop cannot move without being lost to a Knight fork. For example, ...Bf8 (or ...Bg7) loses to Ne6+, while ...Bc1 (or ...Bd2) loses to Nb3+. We say that the Knight 'dominates' the Bishop.
With White is to move in the diagram, 1.Kh1!, called a 'waiting move' because it does little more than give the move to Black, wins. Any Bishop move loses the Bishop while 1...Kxd4 fails to 2.a6.
Not at all an elementary book, Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies is a collection of endgame studies by great endgame composers like Leonid Kubbel (Russian, 1892-1942), Henri Rinck (French, 1870-1952), and Alexei Troitsky (Russian, 1866-1942)
Kasparian classified the endgame studies by type of chess material, analyzed the classifications, and discovered that many studies were based on similar themes. The preceding diagram is an example of 'Minor Piece Traps Minor Piece : trapping a random Bishop by a Knight'. In this article we'll look at examples of several themes, which illustrate concisely the strengths and weaknesses of the pieces as they interact with each other on nearly empty boards.
As you work through these examples, try to visualize why each move of the dominated piece leads to material loss. This will improve both your power of visualization and your ability to calculate tactical sequences.
Kasparian gave the following position as a typical example of 'Bishop and Knight trap Bishop'. Once again the Black Bishop has no good moves; ...Ba4 loses to Nc5+, while ...Bh5 loses to Nf4+.
White forces the Bishop to move by 1.Kc1!. If Black tries to escape the Knight forks with 1...Bg4, then 2.Bc8+ xrays the hapless Black Bishop.
In this position, the Black King can't move, while any Knight move loses the piece immediately. Kasparian wrote, 'The Knight is trapped on the b7 square. As a rule, the Knight feels uneasy on this spot, where it is frequently deprived of mobility and captured.'
Rook vs. Bishop is usually drawn, but here the Black King blocks the Bishop on its longer diagonal. White wins with 1.Kf3! If 1...Kh5, then 2.Kf4 when the Bishop is lost because of the pin.
Here a Rook on an open board is dominated by a Knight and a Bishop. After 1.Kg3, there are two ways to continue. If the Rook moves to a white square, it loses to a discovered check as in 1...Rf7 2.Nd6+. If it moves to a black square it loses to a discovered check followed by a fork as in 1...Rf8 2.Nc5+ Kb8 3.Nd7+.
The Rook, again with a maximum of 14 possible moves, is dominated by two Knights. 1...Rd1 is the only move which doesn't lose immediately to a Knight capture or fork, but after 2.f3+ the Rook is lost. Since two Knights can't force checkmate, the White Pawn also guarantees the win after White wins the Rook.
Here the Rook is dominated by two Bishops. After 1.Kd6, almost all Rook moves leave the piece en prise. Of those that don't, 1...Re2 loses to the Bishop fork 2.Bd3+ and 1...Rc5 2.Bd3+ forces the King away from the Rook.
While our other positions in this article are not likely to occur in a real game, this Rook and Pawn position has been seen in countless endgames. White wins with 1.Rh8 Rxa7 2.Rh7+. Black to move would draw with 1...Kg7, when the King shuttles safely between g7 and h7.
Here the mighty Queen is dominated by two minor pieces. White wins with 1.Bd6! If Black guards the threatened mate with 1...Qe3, then 2.Be5+ Qxe5 3.Nf7+ wins. If Black tries to promote the Pawn with 1...Qg7 2.Be5 a4, then after 3.Bxg7+ Kxg7 4.Nf5+ Kf6 5.Ne3 a3 6.Nd5+ Ke5 7.Nc3 the Knight stops the Pawn in time.
A lone Queen can normally defend against as much as two Rooks and a Pawn. Here the position of the Black King gives White a surprising win.
1.Ra4! prevents 1...Qa1 mate, attacks the Queen, and threatens 2.Rh3 mate. If 1...Qxa4, then 2.Rh3+ wins the Queen with an xray attack from one side. If 1...Qc8 to prevent the threatened mate, then 2.Rh3+ Qxh3 3.Ra3+ wins the Queen with an xray from the other side.
Material is even, but White wins with 1.Rf5!, threatening 2.Bc2 mate. Both 1...Kxf5 2.Bg4+ and 1...Qxf5 2.Bc2+ lose the Queen to an xray attack..
Finally, with the King tucked in the corner, apparently protected by a friendly Queen and Pawn, Black looks safe. Watch how the White Queen climbs the long diagonals to force a win : 1.Qa1+ Kh7 2.Qb1+ Kh8 (2...Qg6 3.Nf8+) 3.Qb2+ Kh7 4.Qc2+ Kh8 5.Qc3+ Kh7 6.Qd3+ Kh8 7.Qd4+ Kh7 8.Qe4+ Kh8 9.Qe5+ Kh7 10.Qf5+ Kh8 11.Qf6+ Kh7 12.Nf8+.
Chess pieces present surprising powers, don't they? The simplest positions are sometimes the most beautiful.