Chess

Share
The crucial difference between the middlegame and endgame is that the latter, with fewer pieces cluttering the board, gives greater possibility of exact calculation. In the middlegame - except where some tactics allow a forced gain of material or immediate mating attack - all thought is fuzzy and calculations end in a vague "White stands better" or "with advantage to Black". In the endgame, such imprecision is not good enough. Sometimes you must work out with certainty whether you are winning, losing or drawing. Today's position, from a game Cruz-Seirawan played in the Moscow Olympics last year, is a good example.

It is Black to play and he has a crucial decision to make. He can win a pawn with 1...Rh5, but after 2.Kb4 Rxh2 3.c5, the c-pawn becomes dangerous. That line needs to be analysed further before even a fuzzy assessment is reached, but first of all there is something more important to look at. With 1...Ra5+, Black can force a king and pawn endgame, and such positions ought always to be calculable.

Any lazy player (which covers most of us) would decide against the rook exchange on general grounds: After 1...Ra5+ 2.Kb3 Rxa2 3.Kxa2 White has a "distant passed pawn" on c4. White's king and c-pawn will keep the black king occupied on the Q-side, then, at the right moment, the white king will dart over to feast on the black pawns.

That's how it usually goes, but this position is different thanks to the pawn on g4. After 3...Kd6 4.Kb3 Kc5 White has no pawn moves. Black is free to advance his K-side pawns.

In playing the first of those four moves Seirawan must have calculated 20 moves ahead. Here is what happened next: 5.Kc3 e5 6.Kd3 f5 7.Kc3 e4! (Restricting the white king to c3 and b3) 8.Kb3 h6!! (A delightfully subtle move to ensure that White's king is out of phase when the crucial breakthrough arrives.) 9.Kc3 h5 10.Kb3 f4! 11.gxf4 e3! 12.fxe3 (With White's king on c3, 12.Kd3! would save the game) 12...h4 (Now a black pawn must queen, but the fight is not over) 13.f5! Kd6!! (13...g3 leads only to a draw after 14.hxg3 hxg3 15.f6 Kd6 16.c5+! Ke6 17.c6) 14.Kb4 Ke5!! (14...g3 15.hxg3 hxg5 16.c5+ Kd7 17.f6 g2 18.c6+ again lets White save a draw) White resigned. After 15.c5 Kxf5 16.c6 Ke6 17.Kc5 g3 18.hxg3 h3! 19.c7 Kd7 20.Kb7 Black's pawn queens with check. A magnificent ending by Seirawan showing just how far it is possible - and sometimes necessary - to calculate.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions