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The third round of the recent British Championship in Swansea featured an amazing coincidence: two games reached identical rook-and- pawn end- games and in both cases, the same mistake turned a possible win into a certain draw.

The position in the first diagram was reached with Black to play in the game Jackson-Buckley. The correct plan here is to keep the pawn on a3 and try to bring the king to the Q-side. For example 1...Ra2+ 2.Kg3 g6 3.Ra7+ Kg8 4.Ra7+ Kg8 5.Ra8+ Kf7 6.Ra7+ Kf6 7.Ra6+ Kf5 8.Ra5+ Ke4 9.Ra6 Ra1 10.Kg2 Kd4 11.Rxg6 Rc1 12.Ra6 Rc2+ 13.Kg3 a2, when the king is well placed to help the a-pawn through.

There are doubtless many improvements in that line, but it shows the right plan to follow. Instead, Black played 1...a2? when he had no winning chance at all. After 2.h4 g5 3.hxg5 hxg5 White had only to oscillate his king between h2 and g2, and there was nothing for Black to do. His king wandered over to b7, met by Ra3, then to b4 and b3, met by Rb8+ and the king has nowhere to hide. Advancing the pawn to g3 does not help either: the white king sits on g2 while his rook makes all the moves.

Now suppose play in the diagram position had continued 1...g5 2.Ra7+ Kg6 3.Ra6+ Kh5 (3...Kf5! 4.Rxh6 Rc1 gives good chances to win) 4.Kg3 Ra2, then we reach the position of Van Zyl Smit-Rudd which was being played at the same time.

They then continued 5.Ra5? (5.Kf3! is the right move) 5...Ra1? (5...Kg6!) 6.Ra4? (6.Ra6!) when instead of 6...Kg6! when 7.Ra6+ Kf5 8.Rxh6? loses instantly to 8...a2, Black played 8...a2? leading to a draw as in the other game after 9.Kh2! (9.Kg2 is equally good) Kg6 10.Ra6+ Kf5 11.Ra4 h5 12.Kg2 and for all his two extra pawns, there is no way for Black to make progress.

It's always worth keeping an eye on the other games. It's surprising what you may learn.