Thursday, May 23, 2013
Winning a drawn game
In the following game, I could have played a promising exchange sac on move 11, and could have won a clear pawn on move 12. Instead, I played several inferior moves, giving White close to a winning position by move 18. White in turn played some inferior moves, allowing me to escape into what should have been a dead-drawn ending with rook and three pawns against rook and three pawns on the same same of the board. Oh well, beats a loss, right? But much to my surprise, White played extremely passively and I was able to eke out a win. I'm now 87-0-0 on GameKnot, though as I keep saying, my perfect score will come to an end soon. (This was one of the games that was supposed to end it.) My opponent was no GM, to be sure, but even the best players can screw up simple rook endings. GM Alex Onischuk (in)famously lost a "dead drawn" 3 pawns versus 2 pawns ending at last year's Olympiad, and even then-World Champion Kasparov once lost a 4 pawns versus 3 pawns ending, another easy theoretical draw. On Facebook, NM Gopal Menon recently annotated his game against GM Alex Shabalov. After a long fight, Shabalov accepted Gopal's draw offer. When Gopal later analyzed the game, he was shocked to realize that Shabalov was completely winning in the final position! Chess is a hard game.