If GM Alex Goldin were to read this, he would be pleased as he has instructed me to focus on end games to learn – really learn – calculation. Additionally, this happens to be one very interesting endgame.
White has just played 49.g5 and it is at this point Black resigned (!).
GM’s Beliavsky and Mikhalchishin use this introductory position in their book Winning Endgame Strategy as an example of Premature Resignation of a Game for GM Timman now had a draw available to him.
A short note: the position above was from a game between GM Alexy Shirov and GM Jan Timman in round 11 of a 13 round robin 58th Annual Hoogovens Chess Tournament, a category XVII event, held in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands from January 12th to January 29th 1996.
The authors note that for both players the draw seemed “to be in order and appropriate comments [later] appeared in ChessBase…”
But if Black should not have resigned, what should he have done? The authors give the following moves: 49. … Kd6 50.h4 Kxc6 51.f5! Kd6 52.f6, ‘when there are [now] two ways to draw.’
The two ways or two moves the authors provided that permit a draw are
Position A - after 52…. Kd7
For Postion A the three squares d7, d8, and e8 provide the ability to triangulate against the approach of the enemy King while both protecting the pawn on c7 and keeping a watchful eye on f8 (remaining ‘in the square’) should the pawn on f6 advance to f7 and f8 to Queen.
and Position B - after 52…. c6
For position B the three squares d6, d7, and e6 (along with d8) again provide the ability to triangulate against the approach of the enemy King while protecting the pawn now on c6 and keeping a watchful eye on f8 (again remaining ‘in the square’) should the pawn on f6 advance to f7 and f8 to Queen.
The following diagrams provide a great visual showing the key three square in each position and where Black must carefully place his King.
Position A’s 3 key squares
Position B’s 3 key squares
There is a great deal of enjoyment and a lot to be learned by trying to find a way for White to win either position. So far, Black always draws with best play.
From Position A, after 52…. Kd7 53.Kf3 Ke8 54.Ke4 Kc7 55.Kd5 Ke8! And Black holds! (if Ke6 then Kf8!)
From Position B, after 52…. c6 53.Kf3 Kd7 54.Ke4 and either Kd8! or Ke6 holds for Black.
A little background on the game: up to the point of Black’s resignation he had moved his king a total of 15 times (including castling), traveling from c8 to b3 and back to g8. In a 15 move span (from move 21 through move 35) GM Timman moved his King 12 times. An amazing tour de force which as the authors have noted, should have resulted in a draw.
You may find the game here or here. Enjoy.