Endgame Lesson

In the July issue I presented a game in which a whole extra knight wasn't
enough to win.  As if that weren't confusing enough, here is a game in which
Black can only draw with a knight for a pawn.  It is a fascinating endgame
submitted by Art Moskowitz, who had Black against Brian Garbera in July's
Wild Card Open.

Position after 36 ... Nxc2:

37 Kf2 Kf7 38 Kf3 Nd4+ 39 Ke4 Ne6 40 h4

White's pawn phalanx is a formidable obstacle.  Black should puncture it
with 40 ... h5!  Then of course 41 gxh5 Kf6 just allows Black to gobble up
all three of White's pawns.  But even after 41 f5 Nc7 42 g5 g6! Black will
eventually infiltrate.  For instance, after 43 fxg6+ Kxg6 44 Ke5 Ne8
45 Kf4 Ng7 46 Kg3 Nf5+ 47 Kh3 Kg7, White is in zugzwang.  43 f6 is similar,
as Black will play ... Ke6 and then maneuver the knight to f5.

40 ... g6? 41 f5 gxf5+ 42 Kxf5 Ng7+ 43 Kf4?

With 43 Ke5! White would nail down the draw.  Black's best try is
43 ... Ke7, but then 44 g5! h5 45 g6! and Black can make no progress!

For instance, 45 ... Ne6 46 Kf5, or 45 ... Ne8 46 Kf5 Nf6 47 Kg5, or
45 ... Ke8 46 Ke4 (but not 46 Kf6 Kf8 47 Ke5 Ke7 and Black wins) 46 ... Kd7
47 Kd5 Nf5 48 Ke5 Nxh4 49 g7 Ng6+ 50 Kf6 Ne7 51 Kg5.

43 ... Kg6?

Black returns the favor.  There is an intricate win starting with
44 ... Ke6!  In the following play, Black can never put his king or knight
on f6 without check, because White can answer g5 forcing the exchange of

Play might continue 44 Ke4 Ne8 45 Kf4 Nd6, and now White must either push
a pawn, or give ground.

After 46 h5 Nf7 blockades and wins.  46 g5 h5 47 g6 is met by 47 ... Nf5
(but not 47 ... Kf6? 48 g7! Kxg7 49 Kg5) 48 Kg5 Ng7 49 Kh6 Kf6 50 Kh7 Nf5
51 g7 Nxg7 52 Kh6.  Now Black must give up the knight to win, for instance
by 52 ... Kf5; holding onto it by 52 ... Kf7 53 Kg5 Kf8? 54 Kg6 only draws!

That leaves giving ground with 46 Kf3.  Black wins by 46 ... Ke5 47 Ke3 Nc4+
48 Kf3 Nb6 49 Ke3 Nd5+ 50 Kf3 Nf4 (50 ... Kd4 also wins) 51 Kg3 Ke4
52 Kf2 Ng6 53 Kg3 Ne5, and it's clear that the pawns will soon fall.

After the text move, Black didn't get another chance.  45 Ke5 Ne8
46 Ke4 Nf6+ 47 Ke5 Ne3 48 Kf4, and a draw was agreed.  Black can set a trap
by 48 ... Nd5+ 49 Ke5 Nb6, so that if 50 Ke6? Nc4 and the White king can't
get back to the pawns, but 50 Ke4 leads to variations similar to what we
have seen.