Dear chess friends,
In Issue 21 of Modern Chess Magazine, we provide you with the following articles:
Endgame Series 22 - Rook versus Knight
In this article, GM Davorin Kuljasevic explains all the important subtleties related to the endgame rook versus knight. The knowledge of such theoretical positions is very important in modern chess. When these positions appear on board we are usually short of time. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to find the right continuation without prior knowledge. Here is how the author introduces the subject:
In a recently played super-tournament in Shamkir, the game between Veselin Topalov and Ding Liren drew worldwide attention as the Bulgarian lost the ‘elementary drawn’ rook vs knight endgame. If a world-class player can lose this endgame, it means that things may not be as simple in practice as they are in theory. Therefore, I decided to investigate rook vs knight endgame in this issue of Endgame series. After reading this article, you should get a better idea about typical ideas and dangers in this endgame, or at least refresh your memory of this endgame.
Of course, if the king and the knight are together somewhere in, or around, the centre of the board, the draw is pretty trivial as the side with the rook can do little to make progress. Therefore, this type of endgame is not interesting from a theoretical point of view, and indeed most such cases end in a quick draw in practice.
However, there are two winning scenarios that we will investigate:
1. King and knight are poorly coordinated on the last rank/rook’s file;
2. King and knight are disconnected from each other.
The above-mentioned high-profile game featured the first scenario and we will see it shortly. But first, let us cover some basics.
King and knight on the last rank
If the king and the knight are on the last rank (or a-/h- file), this endgame is still drawn in most cases. A typical situation can be seen in the following example:
The article consists of 8 annotated examples and 5 test positions.
The Skill of Maneuvring
In his first article for Modern Chess, the Indian GM Swapnil Dhopade deals with one of the most important positional aspects - maneuvring. The article is based exclusively on games played by the author. In his annotations, GM Dhopade explains the thinking process behind his complex maneuvring. After reading the article, you are going to improve your overall positional understanding.
In the introduction, GM Dhopade writes:
Ever wondered how strong players take their pieces effortlessly to the best squares? It seems, transferring the pieces from worse to good posts is their second nature. As an expert driver drives without really thinking about it, so does a strong Grandmaster Maneuvers his pieces without much conscious thinking. They can ‘feel' the way for their pieces. Manoeuvring is essentially transferring pieces to better squares, where they can do a better job than what they are doing currently. Such a transfer of a piece may enhance our chances of achieving the desired result (gaining an advantage, equalizing, etc. ). I consider manoeuvring a skill just like driving which can be improved with proper training and practice. By solving a lot of positions on manoeuvrings, by studying the games with instructional manoeuvrings one can develop a good feel for the good placement of their pieces. In the first article, I would like to show how this skill of manoeuvring has helped me in my own games, followed by test positions selected from my games. In the next articles, we will have a look at instructional Maneuverings played by strong players.
The article includes 5 games and 10 test positions. Each test position is connected with an extensively annotated answer.
Here is the first game from the article:
Understand the Najdorf Structures - Part 3
In this article, IM Quintillano completes his survey on the typical Najdorf structures. This time, his attention is focused on the following 8 structures:
Each structure is presented in the following way:
- Explanation of the structure
- Model game
- Test position
Let's take a look at Structure 1.
This French-like structure occurs quite often in the Adams Attack (6.h3) when White plays e4-e5 and Black should close the centre with d6-d5. Despite the similarity in the pawn's placement, there is one relevant difference regarding the pieces: Although the typical idea Ne2-d4 is still available here, White's light-squared bishop is poorly placed on g2. Of course, the d3-square would be a better place for this bishop. Therefore, Black has some interesting options as the manoeuvre Nb6-c4, putting pressure on the queenside, or improving the bad bishop via a6 after b5-b4 followed by a6-a5. The pressure along the c-file is, of course, a typical motif as well. When White plays 0-0-0 the battle is often decided by dynamical means. On the other hand, endgames are likely to happen when White castles kingside. In this case, a minor but interesting detail is that when White plays f2-f4, necessary to protect the e5-pawn, the king might become a bit unsafe.
Understand the English Hedgehog - Part 2
As the first structure article, the survey on the d6-d5 break consists of 8 annotated games, as well.
As usual, the concept of the article is best described by the author himself. In the introduction, he says:
It may seem that preparing and carrying out ...d6-d5 is simpler than ...b6-b5 as examined in the previous article. Black can coordinate many of his pieces to control d5 and advance the central pawn under normal circumstances whereas with ...b6-b5 certain tactical premises are needed in most cases.
But the problem is that ...d6-d5 opens the position in an area of high interest for both sides, namely the center. White may have many of his pieces playing a part in the initiated fight as well, so things can turn tactical here, too. On top, the pawn contact is also more complex than after ...b6-b5.
In principle, if White does not have enough resources to simply win the d-pawn with a double capture on d5, his main chance for retaining an advantage is e4-e5. This is an important issue as he typically needs to keep an indirect control on e5 (for instance by doubling major pieces on the e-file). We know already that playing f2-f4 is double-edged, as after ...g7-g6 Black would threaten ...e6-e5, a pawn break examined in the next article.
In the first example, White seemed to be well prepared for the central break, but he overlooked a subtle tactical detail:
The King is a Strong Piece
In this article, GM Valeriy Aveskulov deals with the role of the king in chess. Of course, we have the reflex to avoid using the king until the endgames. In the middlegame, we mainly try to take care of the security of our monarch.
In this article, GM Aveskulov shows that even in middlegame positions, with many pieces on the board, the role of the king can be decisive. The author examines three situations in which the king can be effectively used in the middlegame:
The king takes part in the attack
The king is getting active before transition into an endgame
The king is running when being attacked
Here is a fantastic example of how the king can participate in the attack.
In this article, you will find 7 model games and 6 test positions. All the answers are provided with detailed annotations.