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Test your chess: daily chess puzzle # 117

January 8, 2015

Black to play and win

K O'Sullivan v A Van Tets 1973

 

Solution

A nice change in type of position: this is pure endgame, but with some tactics.

If I were playing this as black in blitz, I might play too passively with 1…Rc8, which I will return to below, but with the time I have as a problem solver, and because it is in a puzzle book, it is easier to see that there must be something more tactical, and 1…Ra3! and 1..c4 !? jump out.

First the latter, which was my first choice. After some sensible moves (see diagram) the following position is reached, which I suspect is a draw. So 1…c4 which would be cute after 3 Rb3? Ra3! is insufficient. (Not that it matters, but black wins after 3 Re3, queening first, and then mating).

Therefore, 1….Ra3! is the move, and even with a few minutes on the clock, or less, it is clearly better than 1…Rc8: the ending after swapping off on c5 and b3 must be better than the ending after 1…Rc8.
In fact, the win is trivial: the f4 pawn drops off, black's e6 pawn can be defended if white biffs it, so 0-1.
Briefly, back to 1…Rc8, since there is a nice line. Say 2 Ke3 (marking time) 2…c4 3 Rc2 (marking time)
What happens if black plays 3…cb or 3…c3
If Black is sharp enough to see 3…cb 4 Rc8 c2 (and the rook can't prevent the pawn from queening; or if black pushes his pawn forward with …c3, intending either to reinforce if with …b4, if permitted, or if white plays b3-b4, to then come in with Rc4-e4/f4, what happens?
Solution
In both cases, black is mated by Rg2! and Rg5 mate!
This tactic is 'on' in the original position, in the sense that black's king is in a net: white just needs a way to spring it (another way would be 1…Rc8 2 Rc2 c4?? 3 Rg2!).

 

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