Selecting endgame studies for solving tournaments is not easy. Firstly, you have to ensure that the study is sound, and a great number of them are not. Having jumped that hurdle, and probably having rejected several unsound studies in the process, you have to ensure that the study is suitable. Studies can be unsuitable for many reasons and new reasons seem to come to light regularly. I selected our first study for the postal round of the junior section of the Winton Capital British Chess Solving Championship where it proved not quite suitable for a reason I have long known about. However, I made the selection too quickly and didn’t notice the difficulty. The irony is that it could easily have been made suitable if I had had my wits about me.
Sergey I Tkachenko
3rd Comm., Rossi-80 JT, 2005
White to play and win
White may be a piece for a pawn up, but Black has threats, the most urgent of which is 1...h1Q+ 2.Rd5 Qxd5+ 3.Kb8 Qb7#. With that black pawn about to promote, only checks will really do and 1.Ra6+? leads to a quick demise - Kf5 2.Ra5+ Kg4 3.Kb8 h1Q 4.Rb5 Qd1 5.Rb4+ (5.Rc5 Qd8+ 6.Rc8 Qb6+ 7.Ka8 Qb7#) 5...Kg3 6.Rb7 (6.Rc4 Qd8+ 7.Rc8 Qb6+ 8.Ka8 Qb7#) 6...Qd8+ 7.Kxa7 Qa5+ 8.Kb8 Rh8+ 9.Bf8 Rxf8#. 1.Rg5+ Kh6 The text move leads to the author's intention. However, Black does have two alternatives and they both lead to much more difficult wins for White. They are 1...Kf6 2.Bb2+ Ke7 3.Re5+ Kd7 4.Re1 Re7 5.Rh1 Re2 6.Bf6 Rc2 7.Bg5 Kc6 8.Kxa7 Ra2 9.Kb8 Rb2+ 10.Kc8 Ra2 11.Kd8 Kd5 12.Kd7 Ke4 13.Be7 Kf3 14.Bd6 Ke3 15.Rxh2 Rxa4 16.Rh3+ Ke4 17.Ra3 Rc4 18.Ra5 Kf3 19.Be7 Rf4 20.Rxh5 Kg4 21.Rd5 Rf7 22.Ke6 Rh7 23.Bf6 Kf4 24.Rd4+ Kf3 25.Kf5 Ke3 26.Rd6 Kf3 27.Kg6 Rc7 28.h5 Rc4 29.h6 Rg4+ 30.Bg5 Rg2 31.Rd2 Rg1 32.h7 Rh1 33.Bh6 Rg1+ 34.Kf5 Rc1 35.h8Q 1-0 and 1...Kf7 2.Rf5+ Ke6 3.Rf1 Rd7 4.Bc5 a5 5.Rh1 Rc7 6.Bb6 Rc4 7.Rxh2 Rxa4 8.Kb7 Ra1 9.Re2+ Kd5 10.Bd8 Kc4 11.Kc6 a4 12.Re4+ Kd3 13.Kd5 Kc2 14.Kc4 Rd1 15.Re2+ Kb1 16.Be7 Rg1 17.Kb4 Rg4+ 18.Ka3 Kc1 19.Re5 Kc2 20.Rxh5 Kd3 21.Re5 Rf4 22.Bg5 Rf1 23.h5 Ra1+ 24.Kb2 Rg1 25.h6 Rh1 26.Re7 Kc4 27.h7 Kd3 28.Bf6 Kc4 29.h8Q Rxh8 30.Bxh8 1-0 and of course, there are many alternatives for both sides throughout. These lines give the solver a lot of hard work not related to the central point of the study, and for that reason make it unsuitable for a junior solving event. However, if I had set this from the position after 1...Kh6, all would have been well. 2.Bf8+ Rg7 3.Rxg7 h1Q+ 4.Kb8 Avoiding further checks by playing 4.Kxa7? doesn't yet work because of 4...Qa8+!! 5.Kxa8= (stalemate). However, if the white pawn h4 weren't on the board, it would be a different thing. Firing the battery doesn't work either - 4.Rb7+? Kg6 5.Kxa7 Qxh4 0-1. From now on Black has to check on the h-file to avoid the firing of the battery, which would win for White. 4...Qh2+ 5.Kc8 Qh3+ 6.Kd8 Qxh4+ 7.Kc8 Qh3+ 8.Kb8 Qh2+ 9.Ka8 Qh1+ 10.Kxa7 1-0 This now works as 10...Qa8+?? 11.Kxa8 is not stalemate as the white pawn h4 has heen annihilated. This latter word is an example of the jargon of chess composition, but a self-explanatory one, I hope.
Our study for solving is taken from the recent International Solving Contest, where solvers in 28 countries sat down at the same time in their separate locations and attempted to solve the same set of problems and studies. The man in overall charge was Axel Steinbrink (Germany) and he selected this perfectly suitable study. It is an absolute classic, so do have a go at it!
2nd Prize, Revista Romana de Sah, 1948
White to play and win
1.Bh7+ Kh8 1...Kf8? 2.Rd1 b3 3.Ra1 1-0 2.Rd1 b3 2...Kxh7 3.axb4 1-0 3.Kb4 b2 3...Kxh7 4.Kc3 1-0 4.Bb1! a1Q 4...a1N 5.Kxb5 1-0 5.Rg1 1-0
Developed and maintained by Brian Stephenson.