Sunday, February 11, 2007

Letter from Saul Wanetick

In 1991, I published my game against Mark Taimanov in Atlantic Chess News. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from Saul Wanetick with endgame analysis showing that I could have held a draw. Saul's letter and my reply were printed in ACN as follows.

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Dear Jim:

In your game against GM Mark Taimanov, the following position was reached after 34...Bxf3!

You consider your move 35.Qxf3 to be better than 35.gxf3 because of 35...Qc7!

However, my analysis shows that 35.gxf3 is the move that can lead to a draw. The move 35...Qc7 is answered by 36.Qe5!, but not 36.Qe8+? Kg7 37.Qe5+ because it is necessary to leave the black king on g8 so that ...f6 can not be played.

After 36.Qe5!, one possible continuation is 36...Qxe5 37.Rxe5 Rxc3 38.Kg2 Rc4 39.Re4! Rxe4 40.fxe4 h6 (40...f6? 41.gxf6 Kf7 42.e5) 41.h4 hxg5 42.hxg5 Kf8 43.e5 Ke7 44.Kf3 Ke6 45.Ke4 with a draw.

In most variations, the black king can not get out because White maintains a pawn on g5.

Saul Wanetick
Toms River, NJ

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Dear Saul:

I have to admit that I have never explored the king and pawn ending after 40.fxe4 until I received your letter.

During the game and in the post-mortem, I (and presumably Taimanov as well) took for granted that a pawn-down king and pawn ending must be lost. But now that I look at Black's backward pawns, it makes sense that the extra pawn can not be used to advantage.

After 45.Ke4, Black's only winning attempt is 45...Kd7 46.Kd5 Kc7 47.Kc5 Kb7 48.Kd6 a5

hoping for 49.Ke7? axb4 50.Kxf7 b3 51.e6 b2 52.e7 b1=Q 53.e8=Q Qf5+ followed by 54...Qxg5.

Nevertheless, White has a problem-like draw with 49.bxa5! b4 50.Ke7 b3 51.Kxf7 b2 52.e6 b1=Q 53.e7 Qf5+ 54.Kg7 Qe6 55.Kf8

because the move 55...Qf6+ is not at Black's disposal and the black pawn prevents the queen from capturing the g5 pawn with check.

Jim West
Kearny, NJ