Chess

Here's a position that, quite apart from several twists in its plot, may teach you a little about rook and pawn end-games. It was composed by the brothers Vassily and Mikhail Platov in 1914 and is White to play and win.

, , , ,

, , , ,

,F, , ,

, ,H, ,

a, n ,g,

, , , ,

,H, , ,

, ,A, ,

We can start by pushing on merrily with 1.d6 and then think about how Black will stop the pawn. The natural 1...Rg7 comes unstuck against 2.Ne7! Rh7 3.d7 Rh8 4.Nc6 when the pawn costs Black his rook. Checking on g1 in this line will only force the white king up the board to support the pawn, so Black must find something more imaginative.

If Black can swap d-pawn for c-pawn, he will draw easily, so 1...d3 looks worth a thought. 2.d7 dxc2+ 3.Kxc2 Rg8 is then a draw, but what about 2.cxd3? You need a little inspiration to find the correct idea for Black, and a good deal more to find White's lethal counter. The defence involves a stalemate trap: 2...Rg6! 3.d7 Rd6 4.d8=Q Rxd3+!! when 5.Qxd3 is a draw. So how does White win?

The answer is by promoting to a rook: 4.d8=R! avoiding the stalemate but the solution is far from over. After 4...Rxc6, White wins by a remarkable finesse. Play continues 5.Rb8! (cutting off the black king) 5...Rd6 6.Kd2 Rd7 7.Kc3 Rc7+ 8.Kd4 Rd7+. It looks as though White can make no progress with his king tied to the defence of the d-pawn, but there is a surprise coming: 9.Kc5!! Rxd3 (9...Rc7+ 10.Kd6 Rc3 11.d4 leads to a technical win) 10.Kc4! and the threat of Ra8 mate costs Black his rook.

Latest international results:

Amsterdam: Kasparov beat Topalov to take the lead with 21/2 out of 3, ahead of Lautier 2; Topalov 11/2 and Piket 0.

Madrid: Viktor Korchnoi leads a strong field with 3 points from four games. Epishin, Salov and Illescas are half a point behind. Nigel Short, after defeats by Judit Polgar and Korchnoi, has 1 point.

William Hartston

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