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La mia analisi: Il materiale











La lezione del GM Schwartzman It is always a pleasure to review one more of Bobby Fischer's games.  His moves have always had that certain something that makes them maybe a little harder to find but once you understand them, you can't help feeling awed. 
This puzzle must have seemed a little difficult for many of you.  The reason?   Well, it looks like there is not much to be solved.  You are probably used to me giving puzzles in which one of the sides is trying to do something, whether win with a combination, improve its position, defend better, or one of the other many things that get us excited during the game.  Here, on the other hand, it is fairly clear that black has the upper hand and that he is in absolutely no danger of losing it.  So, what should black be up to?
Interestingly enough, one of the most popular moves submitted was 1...g6.  The reasons that some of you indicated are interesting: white's position is so bad that he can barely move a piece.  Which means that if we can just slightly improve our position, and pass the turn to move to white, he might quickly be en route to self-destruction.
The fact is that things are a little more complicated than they seem at first glance.   As a matter of fact, your assessment of this position is directly related to how many times you have encountered similar endgames up or down an exchange.  The reason I am saying this is that I personally consider these some of the trickiest endgames around.   When you are an exchange up, especially for a pawn, it is very often incredibly hard to win.  The other side can many times build fortresses out of his pawn structure and bishop, that become very very hard to break through.  After all, the other side is a "piece" up, if you would just count the pieces on the board, that is.
The point that I am trying to make is that these things are not so easy to win as many of you might think.  Take this position, for instance.  Assume that we do indeed play a move such as 1...g6.  What would white do?  Well, his position is not as difficult as it might seem.  He can choose from a variety of moves, as long as they involve the rook, for reasons you will see in a second.  So, after a move such as 2.Ra1, you can expect a very long fight with not as certain a result.  How are we going to make it through white's line of defense?  His bishop is holding on nicely, and thanks to him, so is the pawn on e5.  This makes the position fairly closed and thus not that great when you are the side with the rooks.  Having played quite a few of these things, please believe me when I say that you don't want to have to win this!
So, here comes my big point: in such positions, if there is a way to force a win, DO IT!  And as Fischer noticed, there is a nice little win in exactly the position you've been looking at: 1...Rc3!

I admit that sacrificing the exchange doesn't exactly fit the description of a forced win, but in this case it is!  Why?  Because it marks the start of a forced line that leads to a pawn endgame, which despite being equal from a material point of view, it happens to be completely winning for black!
The next moves are very clear: 2.bc3 Re5 3.Kd2 Re1 4.Ke1



Now here is the difficult part for the average chess player: realizing that this endgame is winning, just by looking at it.  A Grandmaster will see that immediately.  Why?  Here are the main reasons:  a more active king and the 'a' pawn.  They don't sound like much, but they are!  The more active king means that our king will be the first to reach the incredibly important c4 square.  The 'a' pawn, on the other hand, is what wins this game, thanks to the always significant part about it being the marginal pawn.  It is going to take a few moves, but the end result is still predictable: at some point the white king will have to go after 'a' pawn and give up the 'c3' pawn.  After that happens, the black king will win the race to the king side and thus be able to rid it of any and all white pawns.
Here is how the actual game went: 4...Kd5 5.Kd2 Kc4 6.h5 b6 7.Kc2 g5 8.h6 f4 9.g4 a5 10.ba5 ba5 11.Kb2 a4 12.Ka3 Kc3 and white resigned.   Looking at the position it should be fairly easy to see why.

Please note that no matter how white would have played the pawn endgame, correct play by black would have led to the same inevitable result.