mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: One thing is sure: this was not an easy puzzle! But, if you did solve it, then chances
are you understood it in its entire depth! Let's try to attain this depth, by
analyzing the position. Who do you think is better, white or black? You might
be tempted to say no one, just because there are bishops of opposite colors on the board,
which as you know, so often lead to draws.
However, you must remember an important rule about this type of endgames: it is not true when rooks are on the board! Yes, if there are only kings and pawns, then the chances of draw are quite high. But, add a rook (or two) to the mix, and out goes the entire theory. In fact, they often say that when there are bishops of the opposite colors on the board, the side which is better, tends to win. The reason? Well, maybe because the bishop simply rules on his own color!
Anyway, getting back to the position, you have to admit it is a bit hard to say who is better. There is equality on the board, at least from the material point of view. Both kings seem fairly safe, and the bishops look just as active. So, where does the difference lie? Well, how about the pawn structure.
Yes, both sides have five pawns. And yes, it looks like black is worse off, since he has three pawn islands, while white has only two. But, it turns out that things are a bit more complicated. You see, there is a significant difference between where white's pawns are, and black's. For instance, d6 is a very weak pawn for black, without a doubt. However, can white get to it? Not really... Not to mention that it is on a dark square.
White's pawns, on the other hand, are a bit more vulnerable. Specifically, the one on h2 seems to sit there, just waiting to be attacked. And what simpler way to attack it, than on the 'h' file? It is simply an isolated, undefended, weak pawn, on a semi-open file!
So, here is what white should do: worry! He can not simply forget about that pawn, because then he is going to get in a lot of trouble. And guess what: that is exactly what white did in the game! He played 1.Rg4?
The idea is not bad at all. The rook is so much more active on the 4th rank,
which is an important rank, by the way... He is also preparing what white's plan
should really be: mount an offensive on the black queen side pawns. Those pawns are
on light squares, and they are susceptible to capture - if approached right, that is.
Unfortunately, there is still a question about who gets where first. And in this case, it is black! After 1...Rh8 the h2 pawn is already under attack. White found an innovative way to defend it: 2.Rf1 with the idea of doubling the rooks on the 'f' file. But, after 2...Ra7 white has no other choice then to defend the pawn properly, with a move such as 3.Rf2.
At this point, black can start harassing another white weak pawn: the one on d5, with 3...Rh5! This kind of forces white to defend it with 4.c4. After 4...bc4 5. Bc4 Be5 6.R4g2 Rh4! just take a look at the position.
Is there even a shadow of the doubt that black has achieved complete
domination? His pieces have simply swarmed the board and white will have to fight
hard to defend himself. In the game, he was unsuccessful. And trust me, from
this position I am not even surprised. And where did it all start? How about move
The right thing to do, on move one, would have been ensuring the security of the 'h' pawn. and not just with the rooks. Because if both rooks have to worry about defending the pawn, as it happened in the game, then guess what, they can't do anything else... And if two rooks are stuck defending a pawn, then believe you me, winning chances are really really small...
Which brings me to the one right move: 1.h3!!
The idea? Very simple: to answer 1...Rh8 with 2.Bf1. At this point, the situation is quite different. The pawn is very safe, and no rook is wasting his time defending it. As to the bishop, not even he is wasting time. Sitting on f1, the bishop controls the entire a6-f1 diagonal, which will prove very useful once the plan Rg1-g4 and a2-a4 takes place. I don't know if white is going to win this game, but I hope you do agree with me that he is better...