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La mia analisi: Il materiale











La lezione del GM SchwartzmanIf you looked at this position for a while, you might have been tempted to ask yourself whether it could have come from an actual game.  It really doesn't look like that is a very probable possibility, at least judging by where the black king has gotten to, in the middle game.  But in reality, the position did not only come from an actual game, but it was actually one played between two very strong Grandmasters: Sokolov, and Ivanchuk.
Yes, it is true that black's king is not in the most enviable position, but getting him there cost white quite a bit, or to be more precise, an entire rook!  In these conditions, it is always tricky to find the next move!  I mean there is so much pressure - you either checkmate, get some sort of perpetual, or you are hopelessly lost - not exactly the most relaxed environment to play in.
But, on the other hand, how hard could it be to checkmate, when our rook queen and bishop are so close to the king?  The correct answer is "you never know."   When you are dealing with such a situation, where black's pieces are fairly close to their king as well, it is very dangerous to assume that almost anything wins, or that almost anything draws, for that matter.  
A very good case in point is what happened in the actual game.  White thought that he could achieve an easy draw by playing 1.Rg6??

The idea?  Very simple: If black plays 1...Ke7, white can go back with the rook to g7, and since black can not play 2...Kd8 because of 3.Qf8, or 2...Ke8 because of 3.Qe4 followed by checkmate with Qh4-e7, he has no other choice than to go back to e6, which after 3.Rg6 should be an easy repetition, right?
As the Hertz commercial on American TV goes, "not exactly..."   There is one more move that we kind of ignored in the calculation above:  1...Kd5.   You must admit that does look like a ridiculous move.  In an endgame, centralizing the king is a fantastic idea, but when there are a few queens, rooks, and other pieces on the board, it is kind of hard to imagine an endgame...  So, how in the world can be putting a king on d5 be a good idea? 
The answer is once again not that complicated: correct calculation!   As much as we guide ourselves after principles and general intuition, nothing is better than very correct calculation in such a situation.  Yes, 1...Kd5 looks stupid, but guess what: it wins the game!
The point is that with this move, black's king gets closer not only to the center, but also to some of his other pieces in the area.  For instance, now any check on the 5th rank can be met by the placement of the knight on e5 - a square that it would feel quite comfortable in.  So, what other checks are left?  Only one, really:  2.Qd2.  However, at this point, black has a beautiful little combination that wraps things up: 2...Qd4! 3.Bc6 Kc6! 4.Qd4 Ba6

And, because of the sudden reversal of fortunes, with the white king in danger of being cornered by the black pawn and supporting pieces, white had no other choice than to resign...
But, did this really have to happen?  Actually no!   Interestingly enough, in the initial position, white, instead of trying to push the black king further towards the center, has to do the exact opposite - take away the d5 square, with 1.Bc4!


The move has just one major goal: to force black to reply with 1...d5.   Then, white can finally get to work:  2.Qg4 Rf5 3.Qg6! and black's best choice would be to allow the threefold repetition after 3...Rf6 4.Qg4 Rf5 5.Qg6 and so on, since the alternative isn't that great for black: 5...Ke5 6.Qg3 Rf4 7.Rg5 and white is one the way to winning good material!
So, the game should have been indeed a draw, and white realized the need to fight for one quite well.  The only thing he didn't find, unfortunately, was the right way to do it....