Thursday, April 26, 2018

The French Connection: Volume 4

Hello and welcome to the fourth edition of The French Connection. This one will be the first to feature a miniature, and like the first one, this is another gem played in 1951 by a GM that played the French Defense religiously, Wolfgang Uhlmann (1935-). The main theme here is the Greek Gift Sacrifice. The French Defense, along with the Colle System, are the two most common openings for the Greek Gift Sacrifice to occur, but what makes this game very unique is that normally it is Black that has to be careful not to allow White to execute the sacrifice, but in this game, it's Black that pulls the trigger, and while Black's attack may not be the cleanest one available to him, White's errors make Black's mate visually pleasing.

W: Wolfram Bialas
B: Wolfgang Uhlmann
Leipzig, 1951

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6

It was actually pretty rare for Uhlmann to play the Closed Tarrasch, and was more traditionally known for playing the "old" main line of the Open Tarrasch via 3...c5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Ngf3 Nc6.

4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 Qb6

The normal move order for this line is 7...cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.O-O where Black has the choice between 11...O-O, 11...Qc7, or 11...Qb6, the last of which this can transpose to and is normally followed by 12.b3 or 12.Nc3, which Black will usually answer with 12...O-O. Those that intend to play the 11...Qb6 line are often recommended to play 7...Qb6 or 8...Qb6 because it avoids one sideline by White, but allows another. After 7...cxd4 8.cxd4 f6, White can play 9.Nf4 instead of taking on f6, which Black should answer with 9...Nxd4 and there is some additional theory in this line. With 7...Qb6, Black avoids that line, but there's another one that is very rarely played that Black has to watch out for on move 10. After 7...Qb6 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.cxd4 f6, White can play 10.Nc3, sacrificing a pawn via 10...fxe5 11.dxe5 Ndxe5 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Qh5+ Nf7 14.Bb5+ which is very dangerous and possibly losing for Black. A move that was never seen in books that I actually came up with myself and consider to be the only novelty that I ever truly came up with myself is 10...a6 intending 11.O-O and only now 11...fxe5 12.dxe5 Ndxe5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Qh5+ Nf7 when 15.Bb5 is not possible here. The line is still very dangerous for Black, but in the two times I have ever played the Black side of this line, I have a win and a draw.

8.Nf3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Bb4+

Keep in mind that this game was played in the early 50's, and theory was not as well established. These days, the move played in the game, while not refuted, is considered to be slightly inferior compared to the main line, 9...f6, leading to the lines mentioned in the note to Black's 7th move.

10.Bd2 f6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.O-O O-O 13.a3 Bd6

So now let's compare the main line given in the notes to Black's 7th move with the position we have now. Black's position is exactly the same as it would be after move 12 in the main line. White, on the other hand, has played Bd2 and a3 instead of either b3 or Nc3. So White has gotten an extra move out of all of this because of Black's Bf8-b4-d6, but it does alter White's options.


This move is not White's best option due to Black's next move, which he threatened after making his previous move. White needs to increase the coverage of e5, or else put pressure on d5, making it impossible to advance the e-pawn for Black as the d-pawn would then hang. This is what 12.Nc3 would do in the main line.

That said, 14.Nc3 here would be a mistake because of the Bishop on d2. Here, Black can grab the pawn with 14...Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Qxd4 because there is no discovery for White. Without the Bishop on d2, blocking the Queen, White would have 16.Bxh7+, winning the Queen on d4, but with the Bishop in the way on d2, this is not possible. Therefore, the best move here is 14.Bc3, adding another guard of e5 and preventing Black's next move in the game.


With no pressure on d5 and insufficient coverage of e5, Black is immediately able to achieve this freeing move, opening up what is normally the "bad bishop" on c8. It is no longer bad at this point!

15.dxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5


Too late! The situation is not the same as it was on move 14. White had to find a very difficult idea just to minimize Black's advantage. It involved sacrificing the exchange via 17.Be3 Qd8 18.f3 (to avoid the Greek Gift Sacrifice) 18...Bxa1 19.Qxa1 Re8 20.Bd4 a5 21.bxa5 Rxa5 22.Qc3 Bf5 23.Bxf5 Rxe2 24.Bd3 Re8 25.Rc1, keeping Black's advantage to a minimum. In return for the minimal material investment, White has an unopposed pair of Bishops.

17...Bxh2+ 18.Kxh2 Ng4+ 19.Kg3

White is forced to come out as 19.Kg1? Qh6! is curtains for White.

There is only one move here for Black, but it's a very strong one!

19...Rxf2!! 20.Bd2?

White cannot take the Rook as 20.Rxf2 leads to mate in four for Black starting with 20...Qxf2+. That said, all this Bishop move does is block White's own king escape. White must play either 20.Qc1 or 20.Bxh7+.


This move is cute, but stronger and more direct is 20...h5

21.Rxf2 Qd6+ 22.Kf3??

This allows mate in 3. White had to try 22.Nf4, but after 22...Nxd1 23.Rxd1 g5, Black should be able to score the full point anyway.

22...Bg4+ 23.Kxe3 Qe5+ 0-1

The final position deserves a diagram!

The White pieces are there to accompany their master, but all they are able to do is betray him by blocking his escape! After 24.Be4 Qxe4, it's mate.

What should be gotten out of this game is two things.

First, the slightest of changes in the opening can make a significant difference, as we saw that because Black flicked in the ...Bb4+ move before retreating back to d6, the relocation of the White dark-squared Bishop from c1 to d2 completely altered what White needed to do, where in this case 14.Bc3 was correct and not 14.Nc3, nor was the move played in the game correct, namely 14.b4. So don't just think that by memorizing moves that you have an opening nailed. You need to understand when and why certain moves are possible, and that for White, it was all about needing to prevent e5 by pressuring either the e5 or d5 square, but at the same time, not allowing d4 to hang.

Second, always be on the lookout for tactical shots. The move 19...Rxf2 is ultimately what made 17...Bxh2+ playable, and while White may have still had the opportunity at that time to maintain the balance, the position was far more difficult for White to handle than Black as the ball was in White's court to find either 20.Qc1 or 20.Bxh7+, both of which would still require White to play at a very high level of accuracy just to survive.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this miniature. Until next time, good luck in all your French games, whether that be with Black or White.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Simple Chess: Return of the chessnerdbird

My break from chess seems to have helped make chess fun again. Since November of 2017 I have been spending all of my time learning web development. Now that my schedule is freeing up I think it is time for a new blog post. 

What do I mean by chess is fun again? Well, chess was always fun for me. However, on my road to expert chess was becoming a thing of results and improvements, or lack of improvement. I wasn't allowing myself to see the beauty of chess anymore.

If you did not watch my death match against another chess streamer, you did not witness an embarrassing defeat of 24-6 in my opponent's favor. Mainly this came about because my opponent came better prepared. I also helped my opponent by being unsure in the openings on plans and ideas. I played passive moves allowing him positions he thrives in. I did not make complications where I could out calculate him. I was afraid of losing so I couldn't play to win. 

Well I had vowed to never again have a performance like that. I took a deep dive into tactics and attacking play. I watched some GingerGM for inspiration. I looked back at some of my more exciting games to feel the rush of being on edge not knowing who is going to win because the position is so double-edged.

With all of that my games since then have been fun and exciting for me. My return to the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy has led to 3 wins and 1 loss since I suffered that 24-6 defeat in front of hundreds of people. I have included these games and hope they bring you lessons and excitement.

Very first game back:

Second game back:

Third Game Back:

Fourth Game Back:

Aside from the first game back, my play has shown signs of rust. My calculations and my evaluations are not up to par. However, it also shows that if you create enough complications even against stronger opponents then you might have a chance to come out ahead.

This isn't always a good strategy to improve your rating points, but it does lead to fun and exciting chess. When you aren't as worried about results this is exactly what one needs. I hope to see you over a chessboard soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

CCCSA: Tuesday Night Action Crosstable

Please bookmark this page as the CCCSA's Tuesday Night Action crosstable.

Previous Session: TNA 60 USCF-Rated Results

Current Session: Tuesday Night Action (TNA) 60
For everyone's safety, Tuesday Night Action 61 is postponed until further notice

Tuesday Night Schedule:
6:45pm - 7:30pm: "Tournament Tips" Chess Lecture with FM Peter Giannatos or GM Daniel Naroditsky
7:30pm: Tuesday Night Action G/75 inc/15 Game
Tuesday Night Activities are free for CCCSA members or $5 for non-members

Tuesday Night Action 60 - final results after week 5 of 5

SwissSys Report: Tuesday Night Action 60

SwissSys Standings. Tuesday Night Action 60: TOP

#PlaceNameRatingPerf.Rd 1Rd 2Rd 3 Rd 4Rd 5TotalPrize
11Sulia Mason19682012D6 W2W7W4L3 3.5Free Entry
22-3Patrick McCartney20451973L5 L1W12W7W4 3.0 
3 Chase Bellamy17161906L7 D11D6W13W1 3.0 
44Pulak Agarwalla18071839W13 D7W11L1L2 2.5 
55Dominique Myers21762379W2 ---W9 --- --- 2.0 
66-7Luke Harris19811865D1 D9D3 --- --- 1.5 
7 David Cogswell17121754W3 D4L1L2L8 1.5 
88-9Advaith Karthik20382112U--- U---U---U---W7 1.0 
9 Michael Kliber19131964U--- D6L5D10 --- 1.0 
1010-11Vishnu Vanapalli21371913U--- U---U---D9 --- 0.5 
11 Robert Moore17001561U--- D3L4 --- --- 0.5 
1212-13Julio Echevarria18061645U--- U---L2 --- --- 0.0 
13 Garrett Browning17711361L4 --- ---L3 --- 0.0 

SwissSys Standings. Tuesday Night Action 60: Under 1700

#PlaceNameRatingPerf.Rd 1Rd 2Rd 3 Rd 4Rd 5TotalPrize
11Todd Lambert14021787W27 W19W10W4D2 4.5Free Entry
22-3Henry Chen16131569W7 L8W3D23D1 3.0 
3 Krishna Somesula14441539W22 L6L2W14W8 3.0 
44-6Arjun Rawal14871488D5 W14W6L1 --- 2.5 
5 Julian Parker14681517D4 ---L14W13W11 2.5 
6 Chalpati Gundumalla13301507D14 W3L4W27 --- 2.5 
77-11Smayan Ammasani16141549L2 W12W18L8 --- 2.0 
8 Enzo Restelli15341690U--- W2 ---W7L3 2.0 
9 Ivan Manchev14641840U--- U---W13W26 --- 2.0 
10 Sasmita Mohanty14421439B--- W18L1 --- --- 2.0 
11 Debs Pedigo13401561U--- U---W22W20L5 2.0 
1212-14Rishi Nair15721578D21 L7 ---W22 --- 1.5 
13 Mike Day14891302L18 D22L9L5W25 1.5 
14 Vishvin Ramesh13531332D6 L4W5L3 --- 1.5 
1515-20Lalith Challari15311745U--- W27 --- --- --- 1.0 
16 Scott LaPorte15091867U--- U---U---U---W22 1.0 
17 Jeff Prainito15001886U--- U---W24 --- --- 1.0 
18 Anish Gudi14771381W13 L10L7 --- --- 1.0 
19 Dan Boisvert14511419W25 L1 --- --- --- 1.0 
20 Joshua Holcombe13501342U--- U---W27L11 --- 1.0 
2121-23Spencer Singleton16541572D12 --- --- --- --- 0.5 
22 William Dale Wolfe14671150L3 D13L11L12L16 0.5 
23 Raam Puttagunta14511613U--- U---U---D2 --- 0.5 
2424-27David Magee14861100U--- U---L17 --- --- 0.0 
25 Dayln Shelton14361070L19 --- --- ---L13 0.0 
26 Bradley Juopperi13921064U--- U---U---L9 --- 0.0 
27 Parijat Majumdar13451003L1 L15L20L6 --- 0.0 

SwissSys Standings. Tuesday Night Action 60: Under 1300

#PlaceNameRatingPerf.Rd 1Rd 2Rd 3 Rd 4Rd 5TotalPrize
11-4Utsav Arora12661410W12 L2W13W16W23 4.0 
2 Lokruth Patil11861371W10 W1W19W9L5 4.0 
3 Arri Restelli 373 523L4 W32W42W40W40 4.0 
4 Sejal Pandey 226 570W3 W40W41L22W42 4.0Free Entry
55Harshil Jagga10671253W15 L13D23W19W2 3.5 
66-8Nathan Conklin10771223W38 --- ---W43W45 3.0 
7 Taran Bellam 9221183W21 W17 ---W8 --- 3.0 
8 Pulla Reddy Gudi 660 927W33 W30W29L7 --- 3.0 
99-22Alan Cai12461218L24 W10W12L2 --- 2.0 
10 Otto Restelli12341109L2 L9L15W35W16 2.0 
11 Errol Restelli12311196U--- L12 ---W26W34 2.0 
12 Calvin Mitchell12291077L1 W11L9L14W31 2.0 
13 Virginia Caldari11851284W23 W5L1 --- --- 2.0 
14 Ramachandra Kapilavayi11661201L16 L25W35W12 --- 2.0 
15 Prashvin Ramesh11341242L5 W37W10 --- --- 2.0 
16 Chandrashekar Patil11331104W14 L23W36L1L10 2.0 
17 Braden Miller10481075U--- L7W18 ---W28 2.0 
18 Richard Trela1011 857L30 W28L17W21 --- 2.0 
19 Ketan Awasthi 843 999W28 W29L2L5 --- 2.0 
20 Raghav Keskar 710 660L29 W39L28L31W22 2.0 
21 Nehal-Om Shatagopam 642 722L7 W33W31L18 --- 2.0 
22 William Millikan 514 625U--- W31L27W4L20 2.0 
2323Shravan Dash11211062L13 W16D5 ---L1 1.5 
2424-34Sasmita Mohanty12231646W9 --- --- --- --- 1.0 
25 Luke Johnson11971566U--- W14 --- --- --- 1.0 
26 Amir Farahany1078 979U--- U---U---L11W44 1.0 
27 Anish Thota 899 949U--- U---W22 --- --- 1.0 
28 Sepanta Poozesh 892 703L19 L18W20 ---L17 1.0 
29 Vachan Divakar 851 604W20 L19L8 --- --- 1.0 
30 Raj Ganatra 828 766W18 L8 ---L34 --- 1.0 
31 Sriram Ramineni 666 462L32 L22L21W20L12 1.0 
32 Srivatsa Gundumalla 418 359W31 L3L33 --- --- 1.0 
33 Divakara Kotreshaunr. 440L8 L21W32 --- --- 1.0 
34 Kalon Fossunr.1029U--- U---U---W30L11 1.0 
3535-45Jonathan Wei1247 800U--- U---L14L10 --- 0.0 
36 Abirami Govindarajan1133 733U--- U---L16 --- --- 0.0 
37 Ramya Puttagunta1026 734U--- L15 --- --- --- 0.0 
38 David Petrie1015 677L6 --- --- --- --- 0.0 
39 Arnav Meshram 780 310U--- L20 --- --- --- 0.0 
40 Wesley Blakely 284unr.U--- L4 ---L3L3 0.0 
41 Adheesh Thota 276unr.U--- U---L4 --- --- 0.0 
42 Aniruddha Muppana 206unr.U--- U---L3 ---L4 0.0 
43 Neal Acharyaunr. 677U--- U---U---L6 --- 0.0 
44 Daniel Dieringerunr. 678U--- U---U---U---L26 0.0 
45 Mason Cossetteunr. 677U--- U---U---U---L6 0.0 

SwissSys Standings. Tuesday Night Action 60: EXTRA 60

#PlaceNameRatingPerf.Rd 1Rd 2Rd 3 Rd 4Rd 5TotalPrize
11-2Prashvin Ramesh11341184W4      1.0 
2 Braden Miller10481753W3      1.0 
33-4Vishvin Ramesh1353 648L2      0.0 
4 Sriram Ramineni 666 734L1      0.0 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

CCCSA Tournament Statistics

Over 2000 players, representing at least 33 states and 23 countries, have played at least one CCCSA event.

The following eleven players have played at least 100 CCCSA tournaments:
Adharsh Rajagopal - 143
Vishnu Vanapalli - 133
Daniel Cremisi, Sulia Mason - 124
Pradhyumna Kothapalli - 122
Aditya Shivapooja - 120
Hassan Hashemloo - 114
Richard Trela - 106
Andrew Chen - 104
Dominique Myers, Austin Chuang - 100

The following titled players have played in a rated CCCSA tournament:
16 Grandmasters
33 International Masters
33 FIDE Masters and USCF Senior Masters (2400+)
12 FIDE title norms, plus 2 GM titles, 2 IM titles, and 3 FM titles achieved at CCCSA invitationals

In addition to our rated events, the CCCSA also holds lectures, camps, and other activities with famous players such as GM Eric Hansen, GM Alex Shabalov, and IM John Bartholomew.

Our regular tournaments also have very high attendance:

Coming up this summer:
  • Camps and lectures with GM Boris Avrukh, GM Jacob Aagaard, GM Aman Hambleton, and IM John Bartholomew
  • U.S. G/10, G/30, G/60 Championships - the first national tournaments in Charlotte since 2001
  • 3rd Carolinas Classic - the largest annual open tournament in North Carolina
  • Summer GM/IM Norm Invitational Tournament - featuring 40 players rated over 2300, including 6 GMs, 20 IMs, and 14 FMs/NMs from over 14 countries - held at the same location as the Carolinas Classic, spectators welcome!

See our events schedule hereCCCSA members receive discounts on all tournaments, camps, and activities.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Reverse Angle 83 Results - Pohl, Macnair, Prakki, Paimagam, Swarna winners

A palatial turnout of fifty players competed in the 83rd edition of CCCSA's Reverse Angle chess tournament on Saturday, April 21.

$850 in guaranteed cash prizes ensured a strong turnout in each of the three sections: Top, Under 1800, and Under 1400.

Top Section
In the top section, Daniel "well technically" Cremisi (2386), Klaus "I won the SC bughouse championship" Pohl (2203), and Mark "still the state champ" Biernacki (2183) were the National Masters in the field.  They were joined by many experts and class A players in a strong section of eighteen players.

At the end of the day, the National Masters rose to the top.  Klaus Pohl scored 3-0, earning $175, while Mark Biernacki received $75 for his clear second place finish (2.5).  Early withdrawal Daniel Cremisi (2-0) achieved his peak rating of 2399!

The under 2000 prize was split by CCCSA's most active player, Adharsh "143 CCCSA tournaments" Rajagopal (1981) and Donald "check!" Johnson (1749).

Reverse Angle 83

Reverse Angle 83: TOP

#NameRtngRd 1Rd 2Rd 3TotPrize
1Klaus Pohl2203W14W12W4 3.0175.00
2Mark Biernacki2183D10W13W6 2.575.00
3Daniel Cremisi2386W13W5 --- 2.0 
4Neo Zhu2151W15W9L1 2.0 
5Sulia Mason2052W7L3W15 2.0 
6Adharsh Rajagopal1981W18W8L2 2.025.00
7Donald Johnson1749L5W18W12 2.025.00
8Alain Morais2120W17L6D9 1.5 
9James Dill1977W11L4D8 1.5 
10Xiaodong Jin1816D2D14H--- 1.5 
11Robert Moore1700L9B---D14 1.5 
12Aditya Shivapooja1981W16L1L7 1.0 
13Austin Chuang1896L3L2W17 1.0 
14Garret Allen1878L1D10D11 1.0 
15Luke Harris1812L4W16L5 1.0 
16Andrew Jiang1723L12L15W18 1.0 
17Andrew Chen1768L8H---L13 0.5 
18Advaith Karthik1712L6L7L16 0.0 

Under 1800
The U1800 section was the largest of the day, with twenty players, including top seeds Arav "silver and" Goldstein (1653), Ian "big mac" Macnair (1646), and Danny "crop man" Cropper (1599).

Ian Macnair, Rithvik "football" Prakki (1587) and Grisham "grischuk" Paimagam (1523) tied for first place with 2.5/3, each receiving $92.

Reverse Angle 83

Reverse Angle 83: Under 1800

#NameRtngRd 1Rd 2Rd 3TotPrize
1Ian Macnair1646W11D3W4 2.591.67
2Rithvik Prakki1587D5W19W7 2.591.67
3Grisham Paimagam1523W20D1W10 2.591.67
4Danny Cropper1599W12W17L1 2.0 
5Eric Shi1375D2D16W15 2.0 
6Nikhil Kamisetty1357D8W9D12 2.0 
7Arav Goldstein1653W14D10L2 1.5 
8Bruce Roth1565D6D15D13 1.5 
9Kiru Mendez1537H---L6W17 1.5 
10Aditya Dias1533W13D7L3 1.5 
11Andrew Lord1462L1W20H--- 1.5 
12Gautam Kapur1407L4W18D6 1.5 
13Dan Boisvert1343L10W14D8 1.5 
14Aarush Chugh1516L7L13W20 1.0 
15Sanjit Pilli1346H---D8L5 1.0 
16Brian Miller1306H---D5 --- 1.0 
17Nishanth Gaddam1301W18L4L9 1.0 
18Debs Pedigo1521L17L12H--- 0.5 
19Hassan Hashemloo1365H---L2 --- 0.5 
20Smayan Ammasani1337L3L11L14 0.0 

Under 1400
The U1400 section was also a hotly contested competition with twelve players.  Pranav "too tall" Swarna (1346), Mary "no nickname available" Tracy (1242), and Ethan "elon park's finest" Liu (1168) were the top seeds.

Pranav Swarna earned $150 for his clear first place finish.  Mary Tracy, Ethan Liu, Akshay "!!!" Rajagopal (1102) and Raamcharan "raam" Puttagunta (897) scored 2-0, good for $31.25 each.

Reverse Angle 83

Reverse Angle 83: Under 1400

#NameRtngRd 1Rd 2Rd 3TotPrize
1Pranav Swarna1346W7W4W3 3.0150.00
2Mary Tracy1242W9L3W8 2.031.25
3Ethan Liu1168W5W2L1 2.031.25
4Akshay !!! Rajagopal1102W10L1W9 2.031.25
5Raamcharan Puttagunta897L3W10W11 2.031.25
6Sahith Tanuboddi1098W12L8D7 1.5 
7Henry Nguyen949L1W11D6 1.5 
8Rishi Jasti928H---W6L2 1.5 
9Meet Doshi943L2W12L4 1.0 
10Kevin Wang736L4L5W12 1.0 
11Olga McLeod892H---L7L5 0.5 
12Sergio Zepeda733L6L9L10 0.0 

Upsets - 150 points or more
Top Section, Round 3 - Donald Johnson (1749) def. Aditya Shivapooja (1981) - 232 points
Under 1800, Round 1 - Nishanth Gaddam (1301) def. Debs Pedigo (1521) - 220 points
Under 1800, Round 2 - Nikhil Kamisetty (1357) def. Kiru Mendez (1537) - 180 points
Under 1800, Round 2 - Dan Boisvert (1343) def. Aarush Chugh (1516) - 173 points
Under 1400, Round 2 - Rishi Jasti (925) def. Sahith Tanuboddi (1098) - 170 points

USCF Ratin
g Report

Until next time,
G Money

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Endgame Analysis: Rook Endgames With an Extra Pawn

Hello again everyone, and welcome to my latest article on the endgame. It's probably been well over three months since the last time I published an endgame article.

Just to give perspective on how this article has come about, has anybody ever told you that chess is a lot like the news? Take The Rachel Maddow Show (Weeknights, 9pm Eastern on MSNBC). Many times, she has started her show with a statement that she had many topics planned for her show that night, but one or two breaking news items in the last 30 minutes has just completely wiped all that out, and the next hour is spent covering those breaking news items.

Well, in many ways, that's what happened here. Originally, I was going to publish the fourth edition of The French Connection, but that is going to have to wait until the next publication. Instead, we are going to be looking at a rook endgame that happened this past Tuesday night. The tricky thing about rook endgames is that even the slightest of errors can completely change the assessment of the position. We are going to look at one here where a couple of wrong moves were made by both sides, but in the end it was White, who was probably "better but not winning" going into the endgame being up the pawn, won.

With that said, let's see what happened.

Tuesday Night Action 41, Round 5
W: Patrick McCartney (2049)
B: Adityz Shivapooja (1887)

We are going to start at the position where the Rook endgame virtually began.

Position after 32...Ra4

First let's make a few assessments about the position:
  • Black will grab a pawn. There is no way for White to save both the a-pawn and the c-pawn as 33.Rb2 will be answered by 33...Rc4!, winning the c-pawn.
  • The only way for White to get a pawn while Black is getting his is to go for the c-pawn. This is going to result in a case of White having his Rook in front of the passed Pawn. Before White will ever be able to get behind it, Black will reach that point first by going to the c-file. With his own passed a-pawn to boot, these pawns are eventually going to get traded.
  • Rook and 4 Pawns versus Rook and 3 Pawns, namely e-, f-, g-, and h- versus f-, g-, and h-, is often viewed as a theoretical draw. However, here we have Rook and 3 Pawns versus Rook and 2 Pawns with Black's pawns being split on the kingside.
So let's absorb what we have here. White doesn't want to outright lose the extra pawn and give only Black a passed pawn. Therefore, he will have to go for the c-pawn. This is follow up with a trade of queenside pawns, and so therefore, White has to focus his attention on the kingside majority if he wants any chance at winning. This pretty much drives the idea of what happened the next 10 moves or so.

33.Rc7 Rxa2 34.Rxc6+ f6

Often times, if you are the side defending in a pawn down Rook endgame, you want to keep your most centralized pawn on the 7th rank if possible. It can act as a shield to your King on the seventh rank (second if you are White), and with the King on the seventh, the opposing Rook cannot check you from behind as you will just capture it. With this advancement of the f-pawn, Black always has to look out for the White Rook invading via the back rank, and in some ways, this is the root cause of what ultimately forces the Black King himself to get stuck on the back rank. I personally would play 34...Kg7, but the move played may not lose because it sets up a fortress that White will have a hard time breaking if Black uses the Rook purely to guard the seventh rank and simply toggles until White tries to do something as we will see a few moves down the road.

35.Kg2 Ra3 36.g4

Advancing the central pawn first, avoiding situations like 36.h4 h5 or 36.f4 f5.

36...Rc3 37.h4 a5 38.f4 Kg7

There was no immediate mate threat, but Black did have to watch out as White was about to play 39.Rc7, at which point, Black would be forced to further advance one of his pawns to avoid checkmate. or loss of the Rook. That said, 38...Kf7 might be a slight improvement, getting out of there and centralizing the King, intending to answer 39.Rc7+ with 39...Ke6. If White goes quickly running after the h-pawn, Black grabs the c-pawn and still has his own passed a-pawn on the side of the board away from the Kings.


Now instead, Black is forced to the back rank.

39...Kg8 40.c6

White wants to keep his advantage as mobile as possible. Advancing the h-pawn leads to difficulties making progress. For example, 40.h5 Kf8 41.c6 a4 42.Kf2 a3 43.Ra7 Ke8 44.Ra8+ Kf7 45.c7 Rxc7 46.Rxa3 Rb7 47.Kf3 Re7 48.Ra1 Ke6 49.Ra6+ Kf7 50.Kf2 Rb7 51.Kg2 Rb3 52.Ra7+ Kg8 53.Ra8+ Kf7 54.Ra7+ Kg8 55.Ra8+ Kf7 and it's very hard to see how White makes progress.

40...a4 41.Kf2 a3 42.Ra7

Note the timing of White going to the a-file. This is very important. With White's pawns advanced, we saw in the note to 40.h5 that one of White's main problems was the cutting off of the King by Black on the third rank. If White played Ra7 a move earlier, then Black could grab the c-pawn, and once White grabs the a-pawn, go back to the third rank to cut off the White King. Here, Black can try to check the White King and then push a2, guarding laterally, but eventually will have to take the White c-pawn anyway, or he can trade immediately like he does in the game, but the specific location of the White Rook following the trade allows White to lift the King past the second rank.

42...Rxc6 43.Rxa3 Rc4 44.Ke3

In many ways, White is trying to make something out of nothing, but when you are a pawn up and have nothing to lose, being a pest is sometimes the best way to go. Test Black on his defense and make him prove that he sees that there is nothing that White can do.

44...Kf7 45.Ra7+ Kg8 46.Rd7 Ra4 47.Rd4 Ra7 48.Ke4 Kf7 49.Rd5

So White has been able to bully his way to the fifth rank, but with correct defense, he should get no further.


Black correctly continues to toggle on the seventh rank, daring White to try to prove he has something.


White's ultimate goal is to get the King to d6, which he cannot do with the Rook on d5, so he shifts the Rook over a square to stay in close proximity with the King. 50.Kf5 leads to nothing. Black can toggle on the seventh and White can toggle on the fifth all they want. The game goes nowhere.


This move in and of itself doesn't lose, but why mess with it? Better is 50...Ke6, immediately asking White what he's going to do. After 51.Rc6+ Kf7, White has nothing better than to go back with 52.Rc5. If White tries to charge forward with 52.Kd5, then 52...Rb5+ and if 53.Kd6, then 53...h5! puts an end to all hopes of White winning. The White h-pawn falls. If 54.g5, then 54...fxg5 55.fxg5 Rb4 wins the h-pawn, and any trade on h5 leads to an easy winning of the h-pawn and a drawn position.

51.Kf5 Rb7

Correctly returning to where it needs to go as long as the White King stays in proximity with the pawns.


Playing 52.h5 first does White no favors. Sure, it gives the King the h4 square as a hiding point without dropping any pawns if Black goes on continuously checking White once he moves the Rook to c6, but what is the King going to do on h4 anyway?

A word of note to those that use computers. Many computers have been thinking that White has a winning advantage the whole time, and some see this move as the blunder that allows Black to equalize. You can't trust computers in openings and endgames, and in reality, Black has always had the draw with correct play, it's just that now computers realize it.

52... Rb5+ 53.Ke4 Rb4+ 54.Ke3 Rb3+ 55.Kd4 Rg3 56.Rc7+ Kg8 57.Rc8+ Kg7 58.Rc7+ Kg8


White makes one last ditch effort to win the game. Remember what I said about being a pest when you've got nothing to lose? Well, guess what, this one worked! Black finally buckled!

59...Rxg4 60.h5

The trick is that this pawn is forever tactically defended and hence poisonous at all times unless White retreats the King back to the fourth rank.

60...Rh4 61.Kf5

Black to Move and Draw


This move loses now and will always lose! Black must play 61...Kf8! and White can't make progress. For example, if he waits and plays something like 62.Ra7, Black just continues to toggle between f8 and g8 with his King. Any check by White? Black simply toggles between the seventh and eighth rank, specifically on the f- or g-file, so as not to allow the Rook to ever capture the h-pawn. The moment that the White King tries to charge, Black either checks or captures the f-pawn based on the following circumstances:
  • If the Black King is on g8 and the White King goes to g6, Black checks from g4.
  • If the Black King is on f8 and the White King goes to g6, Black takes on f4.
  • If the White King takes on f6, then no matter which square the Black King is on, Black will take the f-pawn with check.

Following this script, White can achieve nothing better than Rook and h-pawn versus Rook, which is a draw. Note that Black can NEVER take the h-pawn, even with the King on f8. For example, after 61...Kf8 62.Ra7 Rxh5+?? 63.Kxf6 Ke8 (63...Kg8 leads back to the same problem as what happens in the game after 64.Kg6) 64.Ke6 and now both 64...Kd8 f5 and 64...Kf8 65.Ra8+ Kg7 66.f5 Rh1 67.f6+ Kg6 68.Rg8+ Kh5 69.f7 Rf1 70.f8=Q Rxf8 71.Rxf8 Kg4 72.Ke5 h5 73.Ke4 are winning for White. In the latter case, no matter what Black does, 74.Rg8+ is coming next.

Instead, the move played in the game loses instantly.

62.Kg6 1-0

So as we saw in this game, Rook endgames are the one endgame where being a pawn up is frequently insufficient to win, but the side down the pawn must always make accurate moves, and so the player up the pawn usually has nothing to lose by playing on.