Games
[Event "Middlesbrough Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "1959.11.27"] [Round "?"] [White "Stephenson, F.N."] [Black "Wise, TH.."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A13"] [Annotator "F.N.Stephenson"] [PlyCount "157"] [EventDate "1959.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] {[%evp 0,157,19,-12,-9,-9,0,-29,-13,-7,6,-1,6,8,15,8,14,-7,0,7,6,-14,-1,-5,-7, -22,11,11,25,-43,-11,-22,-24,-33,-15,23,16,-66,24,8,10,7,-13,0,0,0,0,-54,-41, -37,-48,-112,-111,-105,-88,-80,-80,-85,-90,-83,-46,-40,-47,-71,-43,-53,-69,-62, -54,-62,60,57,106,58,102,95,101,105,104,91,113,115,115,115,116,115,116,117,114, 114,126,126,143,126,126,64,69,80,74,80,89,81,89,89,100,77,82,89,89,89,89,89,89, 77,89,41,77,75,89,89,93,89,89,89,89,77,89,89,89,105,344,294,300,500,500,992, 982,1015,1015,1015,1015,1015,1016,1429,1429,1429,1429,1472,1472,1012,1472, 28634,29967,29968,29969,29970,29971,29972,29973,29972]} {In his interesting book “Think Like A Grandmaster” (1971), Alexander Kotov described the following scene: In 1936, in a side room in the Hall of Columns in Moscow a group of chess fans was analysing an endgame. They could not decide the right way for the player with the advantage to proceed and there was some argument. Capablanca entered the room - he was playing in the famous tournament (which he was to win outright) and he liked to walk about when it wasn’t his move. Learning the reason for the dispute, the Cuban looked at the position, said: “Si” and began to redistribute the pieces on the board to show the correct formation for the side trying to win. He pushed the pieces around the board without making moves. Everything then became clear. The correct scheme of things had been set up and the winning method was shown. The fans were delighted by that display of Capablanca's mastery. We are going to look at an old game by much lesser players and see how Capablanca’s methodology is available in ordinary club games. It is to do with how to think at the board in endgames and it might be instructive for players at, or just advancing from, the beginner stage - as I was when I played it.} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. b3 Be7 4. Bb2 O-O 5. e3 b6 6. Be2 Bb7 7. O-O c5 8. Ne5 d6 9. Bf3 Qc7 10. Bxb7 Qxb7 11. Ng4 Nbd7 12. f4 Qe4 13. Nf2 Qg6 14. Nh1 Rfe8 15. Nc3 d5 16. f5 Qg5 17. fxe6 fxe6 18. Ng3 dxc4 19. bxc4 Rf8 20. Nce4 Nxe4 21. Nxe4 Rxf1+ 22. Qxf1 Qg6 23. Qd3 Rd8 24. Qc3 Nf6 25. Nxf6+ Bxf6 26. Qc1 Qd3 27. Bxf6 gxf6 28. Qf1 Qxf1+ 29. Rxf1 Kf7 30. Rd1 Rd3 31. Kf2 Ke7 32. Ke2 Ra3 33. Ra1 Kd6 {Black, much the better player at the time, has outplayed White in the middlegame and has good chances to get a win from here. There are two things that White should have in mind: (i) it is not yet a "theoretical ending" where the route to the win for Black is a matter of technique only - many things could happen from here - mostly advantageous for Black, of course, but not all of them; and (ii) White has to get active - he might go down fighting but, if he doesn't fight, he will certainly go down! Capablanca, in his mind, would put the Black king on ‘c6’ and pawns on ‘a6’ and ‘b5, an important feature of rook-endings is the need to get the rook active - even at the cost of material. So, White begins by trying to set up some sort of counterplay on the other side of the board.} 34. g4 Kc6 $6 {Something has happened that is not uncommon in games between amateurs - Black has continued with a plan that would have been strong against a passive defence but White will now have threats of his own.} 35. Rf1 f5 36. gxf5 exf5 37. Rxf5 Rxa2 38. Rh5 a5 39. Rxh7 Rc2 40. Kd3 Rc1 41. h4 a4 42. Ra7 Rh1 43. Rxa4 Rxh4 44. Ra7 Rg4 45. Rf7 Rh4 46. Rf5 Rh6 47. Rd5 b5 48. Rd8 Kc7 49. Rf8 Rd6+ 50. Kc3 b4+ 51. Kc2 Kc6 52. Rf5 Rd7 53. Rf6+ Kb7 54. Rf5 Kc6 55. Rf6+ Kb7 56. Rf1 Kc6 57. Rd1 Re7 58. Ra1 Kb6 59. Ra8 Rd7 60. Rg8 Kc6 61. Rg4 Re7 62. Rh4 Kb6 63. Rh5 Rd7 64. Rd5 Rxd5 {After much jostling for position, White had threatened to get in the advance of his d-pawn - a nod now to Endgame Theory (more about this later): rook and two connected passed pawns versus rook and one passed pawn is nearly always going to win. Black was probably aware of that and choses to spoil White's pawn structure. We now enter the second of our end-games-this time, kings and pawns.} 65. cxd5 c4 { Years later, I found this very position in Bert Hopkins' copy of Freeborough’s famous "endgame book" from the 1890s.} 66. d3 c3 {The winning scheme is to place Black in a stalemated position when he will have to move a pawn, losing it - then release the stalemate before picking up the other pawn.} 67. e4 Kc7 68. e5 Kd7 69. d6 Ke6 70. d4 Kd7 71. d5 Ke8 72. e6 Kd8 73. d7 Ke7 74. d6+ Kd8 75. Kb3 c2 76. Kxc2 b3+ 77. Kb1 b2 78. e7+ Kxd7 79. Kxb2 {There are two other aspects of play in endgames which did not really figure in these examples: (i) tactical vision - the ability to analyse accurately a sequence of forced moves; and (ii) endgame theory - Tom might have been influenced by knowing that rook + 2 passed pawns versus rook + 1 pawn was likely to be a loss. Otherwise, there was no resort to theory at all here. Its function usually is to inform the choice of an appropriate scheme of play. As with plans in the Opening and Middlegame, these schemes in an Endgame are best verbalised in a player’s mind in the simplest possible terms.} 1-0