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A near miss in Tromsø round 11: Quesada Perez-Howell

August 15, 2014

Last night my wife and bumped into Dominic Lawson and his wife: we are both holidaying in Kas, Turkey.

Whilst Jane and Rosa behaved as normal people do, and talked about our holidays etc (having first checked that they are both chess widows), Dominic and I went faster than the fastest move at bullet chess to the Tromsø Olympiad, and in particular to England's performance.

We both agreed that Mickey's performance was stellar, Nigel's affected by the FIDE Presidential elections, and we also talked about David Howell, and whether he could had won that day's (round 11) game from the England-Cuba match.

Dominic and I had both watched the game live (thank you Tim Berners-Lee, thank you Steve Jobs, thank you Chessbase). I told him I felt the push of the e pawn was misguided, since it provided a shield against checks: instead perhaps there was a mate with the B on e4 and the Q hitting g2: or at least force white into passivity when it should be winning. As the game panned out, David's king was open to endless checks and couldn't get to the protection of the queen since the h2-b8 diagonal was mined: b8(Q)+. So, draw.

Of course, looking at a game in hindsight is easier than having a constant thirty seconds per move, which David had: especially since the crucial time came at the end of a very long and tough session. David has manoeuvred skilfully to reach the endgame where a win was possible.

The crucial postion

Quesada Perez, Yuniesky v Howell, David. Cuba v England, Tromsô Olympiad round 11, 14/8/14


Here, white moved his king, and David played e4, and with time gaining repeated checks black pushed his pawn all the way to e2, whilst white's pawn reaches b7.

This is the position after 74…e2+ 75 Kh1. I think the win has gone by now. In the game, David played 75…Be4 and then there were twelve more checks before David decided he couldn't escape them: the queen is needed to protect the Bishop, and the Bishop is needed to protect the Pe2, so neither can shield the king.

Instead of 75…Be4 black could transpose to an endgame Q+B v Q+PP but this can't be winning. 75…Qa1+ 76 Kh2 e1(Q) 77 Qe1 Qe1 78 b8(Q) and since there is no forced mate (the white queen can always come back or either g3 or h2 to defend g2) it is a draw.

White's queen's placement in the second diagram is key. From e7 it prevents h4 checks whilst threatening endless checks of its own. Knowing this, and going back to the first diagram, the win is to move the Q to d6: so 1 Kh1 Qh4+! 2 Kg1[] Qd4+! 3 Kh1 Qd1+! 4 Kh2[] Qd6!

The perfect placement


The Q on d6 serves two purposes: stops many of white's checks, and defends d7, so that the B can regroup to d7, either hitting the Pb5 or preventing the Pb4 from advancing. If white tries to nobble the Q and B by pinning them by Qd8 he is unsuccessful. The Ph5 is LPDO, and Qd1+ Qh5+ pick it up, followed by Qd1+ and Qd4 centralising the queen. Since the b pawn is only on b4 black wins: there is no perpetual and eventually the king will find shelter.


So, a pity, but probably a fair result.

The line I wanted to play as I watched live, with the same time pressure as David but without the responsibility (or ability) was 1…Be4 and it appears that it was somewhat better than direct advancement of the pawn, but not much better. 2 Qd8[] (to reach d2 to protect g2) Qg3[] (to hit g2 whilst defending e5) 3 Qd2 holds things together.


Black's best then is I think Qg4-h5 whilst white advances his pawn to b5: and it is similar to the game, but better for black. Black can interpose his queens on checks (eg Qd7+ Qf7) since the bishop ending is won. And if white pushes Pb6, then by Qg4 black controls d7, and the pawn is stopped (if then Qb2, Qd1+Qd6, and if the pawn advances to b7, it is lost after Qb8 and Bb7




From → Chess

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