Amusing blunders and a grandmaster’s endgame lesson

3/8/2011 – In our final account of the Polish Championship (12-20 February 2011) we focus on two extremes of the chess art: ridiculous blunders and sophisticated endgame technique. While reading the first part of this report you may gain the impression that beating a strong GM is as easy as pie. The rook endgame lesson delivered by GM Bartosz Socko should return you to reality. Report by Piotr Kaim.

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Amusing blunders and a grandmaster’s endgame lesson

Report from the Polish Championship by Piotr Kaim
Photos by Sylwia Rudolf/Polish Chess Federation

The Championship was held in Warsaw from 12 February to 20 February 2011. While the women’s section was a round robin with nine rounds, the men fought the same distance in a Swiss format with 22 participants. GM Mateusz Bartel won the men’s section convincingly (7.0/9), finishing a full point ahead of the field and suffering not a single loss. In the women’s section the victor, WGM Jolanta Zawadzka (2371), also scored 7.0/9 with not a single loss.

Final standings



Player Rtng. Pts
1 GM Bartel, Mateusz 2617 7.0
2 GM Jaracz, Pawel 2543 6.0
3 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2726 6.0
4 GM Socko, Bartosz 2660 5.5
5 GM Swiercz, Dariusz 2540 5.5
6 GM Olszewski, Michal 2532 5.5
7 GM Kempinski, Robert 2600 5.5
8 GM Mista, Aleksander 2565 5.5
9 GM Macieja, Bartlomiej 2636 5.0
10 IM Tazbir, Marcin 2527 5.0
11 GM Gajewski, Grzegorz 2569 4.5
12 IM Piorun, Kacper 2513 4.5
13 IM Krysztofiak, Marcin 2449 4.5
14 GM Miton, Kamil 2616 4.5
15 GM Jakubowski, Krzysztof 2502 4.5
16 IM Kanarek, Marcel 2405 4.0
17 GM Markowski, Tomasz 2625 4.0
18 IM Staniszewski, Piotr 2407 4.0
19 m Sadzikowski, Daniel 2389 3.5
20 IM Pakleza, Zbigniew 2495 2.0
21 IM Dragun, Kamil 2432 1.5
22 m Stoma, Pawel 2342 1.0

Women's section


Player Rtng. Pts
1 WGM Zawadzka, Jolanta 2371 7.0
2 GM Socko, Monika 2489 6.5
3 WGM Szczepkowska, Karina 2254 5.5
4 WGM Jaracz, Barbara 2274 5.0
5 WIM Worek, Joanna 2274 4.5
6 WIM Toma, Katarzyna 2238 4.0
7 WGM Dworakowska, Joanna 2334 4.0
8 WFM Kulon, Klaudia 2220 3.5
9 WGM Majdan-Gajewska, Joanna 2359 3.0
10 WFM Lach, Aleksandra 2172 2.0

For a start of our third and last account of the Championship we will show you a gallery of spectacular blunders, oversights and other grave mistakes. A great deal of such things happened in round three played on 14 February, which was, coincidentally, the Valentine's Day. The tone was set by two female players.

WIMs Joanna Worek (left) and Katarzyna Toma proved they are not materialists

Worek,Joanna (2274) - Toma,Katarzyna (2238) [D87]
ch POL (women) Warsaw POL (3), 14.02.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Be3 Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.Qd2 Bb7 13.Bh6 e6 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Rac1 Rc8 16.Qe3 Qe7 17.Qg3 h6?! Black weakens the fence around her king, which will be exploited in near future. 18.h4 Nc6 19.f4 cxd4 20.cxd4 Nb4 21.f5 Rxc1?! Better was 21...exf5 22.exf5 and only then 22...Rxc1 The point is that after 23.Rxc1 (23.f6+? is met by 23...Qxf6) 23...Nxd3 24.Rc7 the e-file is open and Black can go 24...Qxe2 forcing White to give the perpetual after 25.Qxg6+ Kh8 26.Qxh6+ Kg8 27.Qg5+ etc. 22.Rxc1

22...Nxd3? [22...Rc8 was called for] 23.Rc7! Qf6 24.Rxb7 Nb4 25.Nf4! Qxd4+ 26.Kh2

The game seems to be over. White is threatening 27.Qxg6+ and Black has no satisfactory defence, e.g. 26... Kh8 27.Nxg6+ fxg6 28.Qxg6, or 26...Kg8 27.fxg6 Qg7 28.Nxe6 fxe6 29.Rxg7+ Kxg7 30.Qc3+. In a desperate situation Black does not give up and, as if nothing has happened, takes a pawn... 26...Qxe4 27.Qxg6+ Kh8 This is the moment when White could finish in many ways, e.g. 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29.f6 Qh7 30.Qxf8+! Kxf8 31. Rb8 mate. However, Joanna Worek played something else... 28.Qf6+?! Kg8

29.Qg6+?? Kh8?? Black rejects 29...fxg6 winning! When the critical moves were being made, both players thought the f7 pawn was pinned. Immediately after 29...Kh8 they realised it was an illusion. Then they looked at each other and burst out laughing... 30.Qxh6+ Kg8 31.Qg5+. This time White avoids 31.Qg6+?? 31...Kh8 32.Ng6+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

The above game must have inspired Bartlomiej Macieja, a former European Champion. As a result, he lifted the art of blunder to the 2600+ level.

GM Bartlomiej Macieja: “My king on h2? – never again!”

Macieja,Bartlomiej (2636) - Jaracz,Pawel (2543) [D15]
ch POL Warsaw POL (3), 14.02.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c6 3.d4 d5 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Bf5 6.Bf4 Nbd7 7.e3 g6 8.Qb3 Ra7 9.Ne5 Bg7 10.Be2 0-0 11.0-0 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Nd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.g4 Be6 15.f4 Nf6 16.h3 h5 17.g5 Nd7 18.h4 b6 19.cxb6 Nxb6 20.Rfc1 Bg4 21.Bf1 Ra8 22.Nd1 Rb8 23.Nf2 Nc4 24.Qc3 Nd6 25.Bd3 Rb6 26.Qa5 Qb8 27.b3 Bf5 28.Be2 Ne4 29.Nxe4 Bxe4 30.Rc5 f6 31.Rac1 fxg5 32.hxg5

Up until now, White was trying to pressure on the queenside and to cramp Black's position on the kingside. The latter has been made at a high cost, which is revealed by the enterprising rook sacrifice. 32...Rxf4! 33.exf4. Forced. Those who like to see mating patterns based on a queen and a bishop co-operation can follow the line 33.Qxb6? Rg4+ (33...Qxb6 is also possible, but less efficient.) 34.Bxg4 Qg3+ 35.Kf1 Bd3+ 36.Be2 Qf3+ 37.Kg1 Qxe3+ 38.Kg2 Qxe2+ 39.Kg1 Qg4+ 40.Kf2 Qf4+ 41.Kg2 Be4+ 42.Kg1 Qg3+ 43.Kf1 Bd3#. 33...Qxf4. What to do now? 34. Qxb6 loses on the spot after 34...Qg3+ 35.Kf1 Bg2+ 36.Kg1 Bf3+ 37.Kf1 Qg2+ 38. Ke1 Qxe2 mate. 34.Qe1. The queen is brought back to defend the king and Black has to do something about the 35.Qf2 threat. Another reasonable option was 34.R5c3 when 34...Qxg5+ 35.Kf1 Rb8 led to a very sharp and unclear position. It seems that White would be more likely to go wrong than Black. 34...Qxg5+

The time for a terrible blunder has come. [Black could also go 34...Rb8!? with a pretty unclear position, just like the one mentioned in the previous comment. 35.R5c3 h4 36.Qf2 Qxg5+ 37.Kh2 Rf8 38.Qg1 Qf4+ 39.Kh3] 35.Kh2?? Obviously, White should have played 35.Kf2 that could lead to a draw by a perpetual after 35...Qg2+ 36.Ke3 Qg5+ 37.Kf2 Qg2+ etc. However, Black could keep the tension with 35...Rb8!? 35...Qg2#. This mate marked an important step in the winner's way to the second prize. 0-1. [Click to replay]

It was not the end of the Valentine Day’s miracles. Let’s go back to the women’s section, where WGM Jolanta Zawadzka, the eventual Championship winner, and WFM Aleksandra Lach embarked on a joint effort to break the record for the longest game of the tournament chess history. Finally, the attempt was failed, but the players were very close. The encounter happened to be the second longest ever (according to the Championship press center). Zawadzka missed a win on many occasions and finally a draw was sealed. Please, see some highlights (you can view the whole game in the replay mode).

Aleksandra Lach (right) and Jolanta Zawadzka: Guiness Book editors followed their
game with utmost attention

Zawadzka,Jolanta (2371) - Lach,Aleksandra (2172) [B33]
ch POL (women) Warsaw POL (3), 14.02.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 Bg5 12.Nc2 Ne7 13.h4 Bh6 14.Nce3 0-0 15.g3 Rb8 [In the blitz game Hjartarson - Anand (2006), the current World Champion played the more energetic 15...Bxe3 16.Nxe3 Bb7 17.Bg2 f5 18.exf5 Bxg2 19.Nxg2 Nxf5] 16.Bg2 Kh8 17.Qd3 Bxe3 18.Nxe3 f5 19.exf5 Nxf5 20.0-0 Qb6 21.Nd5 Qc5 22.Rad1 Be6 23.Rd2 Rf7 24.Re1 Rbf8 25.Ne3 Nxe3 26.Rxe3 Rd7 27.b3 Qc7 28.Bd5 Bf5 29.Qe2 Rdd8 30.c4 b4 31.Be4 Bxe4 32.Rxe4 Rf6 33.Re3 Rdf8 34.Red3 h6 35.Qe3 a5 36.Rd5 Rf3 37.Qe2 Qa7 38.Kg2 e4 39.Qxe4 Rxf2+ 40.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 41.Kh3 Rf8? Loses a pawn. After the natural 41...Qd7+ the game could be drawn approximately 170 moves earlier, e.g. 42.g4 Qc6 43.Qe7 Rxa2 44.Qf8+ Kh7 45.Qf5+ Kh8 46.Qf8+ and a perpetual. 42.Rxd6 Qf2 43.Qg2 Qe1 44.Rd2 a4 45.Re2 Qd1 46.bxa4 Qxa4 47.c5 Rc8 48.Rc2 Rc6 49.Qe4 Qb5 50.Qd5 Rc8 51.Qc4 Qc6 52.Kh2 Rb8 53.Qd4 Qa4 54.Rf2 Qb5 55.Rf7 Qe2+ 56.Qf2 Qc4 57.Rf4 Qd5 58.Qc2 Qc6 59.Rc4 Rb7 60.Qe4 Qa6 61.c6 Rc7 62.Rc2 Qb6 63.Qd5 Kh7 64.h5 Qb8 65.Re2 Rc8 66.Qe4+ Kh8 67.Qg6 Qa8 68.c7 Rf8 69.Qd6 Qf3 70.Qe5?! From now on White is consistent in avoiding opportunities to finish the game with a full point. Now she could play 70.Rc2 Qxh5+ 71.Kg1 Rc8 72.Qd7 curtains. 70...Rg8 71.Rc2 Qb7 72.Qc5 Rc8 73.Qd6 Kh7 74.Qc6 Qa7 75.Qe4+ Kh8 76.Qe7 Qb7 77.Qd8+ Kh7

78.Qd6?! Better was 78.Qd7 keeping an eye on c8 and leaving the opportunity to exploit the diagonal b1-h7 for variious tactics. Ifthen 78...Qa8 White can retort 79.Rd2! and there is no defence against the threat 80.Qf5+ Kg8 81.Qxc8+! Qxc8 82.Rd8+.; If Black meets 78.Qd7 with 78...Kg8 , the job is done with 79.Re2 Qxc7 80.Re8+ Kh7 81.Qf5+. 78...Kh8 79.Rc5 Kh7 80.Qd3+ Kh8 81.Qc2 Qa7 82.Re5 Qb7 83.Re7 Qd5 84.Qe2 Kh7

85.Kg1?! The precise 85.Qg4! led to a mate after 85...Qg8 86.Rxg7+ Qxg7 87.Qf5+! Kg8 88.Qxc8+ Kh7 89.Qf5+ Kg8 90.c8Q+. 85...Qc5+ 86.Kg2 Qc6+ 87.Kh2 Qd5 88.g4? Again 88.Qg4! was decisive. Instead, White exposes her king and throws away most of her advantage. 88...Rxc7! 89.Rxc7 Qd6+ 90.Kh3 Qxc7 91.Qe4+ Kh8 92.Qxb4 Qf7 93.Qd2 Qf3+ 94.Kh4 Qf6+ 95.Kg3 Qe5+ 96.Kh3 Qa1 97.Qg2 Qc3+ 98.Qg3 Qa1 99.Qf2 Qc3+ 100.Kh4 Qa1 101.Qf8+ Kh7 102.Qf5+ Kh8 103.Qc8+ Kh7 104.Qc2+ Kh8 105.a4 Qf6+ 106.Kg3 Qe5+ 107.Kh3 Qe3+ 108.Kg2 Qe1 109.Qc8+ Kh7 110.Qc4 Qd2+ 111.Kf3 Qd1+ 112.Ke3 Qe1+ 113.Kd4 Qf2+ 114.Kc3 Qe1+ 115.Kb2 Qe5+ 116.Ka2 Qh2+ 117.Ka3 Qd6+ 118.Kb3 Qg3+ 119.Kb2 Qe5+ 120.Qc3 Qb8+ 121.Ka1 Qa7 122.a5 Qa6 123.Qc2+ Kh8 124.Qf5 Qa8 125.Ka2 Qc6 126.Kb3 Qb7+ 127.Kc4 Qc6+ 128.Kb4 Qb7+ 129.Qb5 Qe7+ 130.Qc5 Qb7+ 131.Qb5 Qe4+ 132.Qc4 Qb7+ 133.Ka3 Qe7+ 134.Ka2 Qd8 135.a6. Over the next 40+ moves there would be neither pawn moves, nor exchanges. Both players were aware that if such a play lasts 50 moves, Black is entitled to claim the draw. 135...Qa5+ 136.Kb3 Qb6+ 137.Ka4 Kh7? 138.Qe4+ Kh8

White played 139.Qb7? [missing an easy win by 139.Qe8+! Kh7 140.Qg6+!] 139...Qd4+ 140.Kb5 Qe5+ 141.Kc6 Qe6+ 142.Kc5 Qe3+ 143.Kd6 Qf4+ 144.Ke7 Qe5+ 145.Kf8 Qf6+ 146.Ke8 Qe6+ 147.Kd8 Qf6+ 148.Kc8 Qf8+ 149.Kc7 Qf4+ 150.Kb6 Qf2+ 151.Kb5 Qf1+ 152.Kc5 Qf2+ 153.Kd5 Qf3+ 154.Ke5 Qf6+ 155.Ke4 Qe6+ 156.Kf3 Qf6+ 157.Kg2 Qd4 158.Qc8+ Kh7 159.Qf5+ Kh8 160.Qf3 Qa4 161.Qe2 Qc6+ 162.Kh2 Qc7+ 163.Kh3 Qc3+ 164.Kh4 Qf6+ 165.Kg3 Qd6+ 166.Kh3 Qa3+ 167.Kg2 Qa4 168.Kh3 Qa3+ 169.Kh4 Qa4 170.Qd3 Qa5 171.Kh3 Qa1 172.Qc4 Qa3+ 173.Kg2 Qb2+ 174.Kf1 Qa1+ 175.Ke2 Qb2+ 176.Kd3 Qb1+ 177.Kd4 Qb6+ 178.Kc3 Qe3+ 179.Kc2 Qf2+ 180.Kb3 Qf3+ 181.Ka4 Qd1+ 182.Kb5 Qb1+ 183.Kc6

The time to apply the 50 moves rule is very close. It was enough to deliver two more checks: 183...Qh1+ 184.Kc7 Qh2+ 185.Kc8 and the draw would have been sealed, as White would have reached the magic 50. Most probably, Aleksandra Lach was not sure, if it was really enough, or maybe one more check was necessary. While there was no checks after 185.Kc8 she stopped checking for a while... 183...Qb8 184.g5! A terrific fighting spirit! White moves a pawn to avoid the draw. 184...hxg5 185.h6 Qc8+ 186.Kb5 Qb8+ 187.Ka4 Qe8+ 188.Qb5 Qe4+ 189.Ka5 Qe1+ 190.Kb6 Qe3+ 191.Qc5 Qb3+ 192.Ka7 Qf7+ 193.Kb8 Qb3+ 194.Ka8 Qg8+ 195.Kb7 Qb3+ 196.Qb6 Qf7+ 197.Qc7 Qd5+ 198.Ka7 Qd4+

199.Ka8?! Once again White misses a win, though not an easy one. The correct move was 199.Kb8! so that the king does not stand in a way of the a6 pawn; as a result Black could not play 199...g4, because she would be lost after 200.Qxg7+. In turn, if Black plays 199...Qb2+ (or 199...Qb4+) White can exploit the black queen's placement by 200.Ka8 g4 201.a7 g3 202.Qb8+! winning. 199...g4 200.a7 g3 201.Qc8+? Better was 201.hxg7+ Kg8 202.Qb8+ Kxg7 203.Qxg3+ and still White can hope to win. 201...Kh7 202.Qf5+ g6 203.Qf3 Qf2 204.Qb7+ Kxh6 205.Qh1+ Kg5 206.Qd5+ Qf5 207.Qd2+ Kg4 208.Kb7 Qe4+ 209.Kb8 Qe8+ 210.Kb7 Qe4+ 211.Kb8 Qe8+ 212.Kb7 Qe4+ 213.Kb8 Qe8+ and the most hardly fought draw was sealed. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

The following game does not belong to the blunders' theme in a strict meaning. Nevertheless, the White player who lost, may have felt as badly as if he blundered the whole set of pieces and a mate on top.

IM Marcin Krysztofiak: merciless in exploiting dubious opening play

Pakleza,Zbigniew (2495) - Krysztofiak,Marcin (2449) [D02]
ch POL Warsaw POL (8), 19.02.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.dxc5. White is playing a Slav with colours reversed. An additional tempo for Gf4 cannot do him any harm, can it? 5...e6 6.b4 a5 7.Nd4 axb4 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.cxb4 Ng4!

Suddenly, Bf4 became a liability. Black threatens 10...Qf6 winning! 10.Bg3. After 10.e3 White may have feared 10...Qf6 11.Nd2 Nxf2 12.Kxf2 g5. 10...Qf6 11.Nd2 h5 12.h4 Ra3! Black's threats are more and more dangerous. 13.Qc1. What could he do? 13.e3 was met by 13...Nxe3 14.fxe3 Rxe3+ 15.Be2 Ba6 winning; 13.f3 was losing to 13...Ne3 14.Qc1 Qxa1 15.Qxa1 Nc2+ and 16...Nxa1; 13.Nf3 was not helpful either - after 13...Qc3+ 14.Nd2 Qxb4 White's position is lamentable; Finally, 13.Nb3 leads to nowhere due to 13...Rxb3 14.axb3 Qc3+. 13...Rxg3 14.Nf3. Obviously, 14.fxg3 was out of question owing to 14...Qf2+ 15.Kd1 Ne3# . The text move traps the crazy rook and thus White could hope he would be able to show some resistance... 14...Rxf3 15.exf3 Qe5+ 16.Be2

16...Ba6. The resistance is over and White resigned. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Finally, we came to the dessert including two highly instructive rook endgames won by GM Bartosz Socko. Each time Bartosz showed his great expertise and fighting spirit, which allowed him to squeeze full point out of a tiny advantage. In the 6 round he outplayed Radoslaw Wojtaszek, the top seed of the tournament. Please see the critical part of the game with the winner’s comments.

Battle of heavyweights: Bartosz Socko (left) and Radoslaw Wojtaszek

Socko,Bartosz (2660) - Wojtaszek,Radoslaw (2726) [D45]
ch POL Warsaw POL (6), 17.02.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.b3 0-0 8.Bd3 e5 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Nb5 Bb4+ 11.Bd2 Bxd2+ 12.Nxd2 e4 13.Be2 a6 14.Nc3 b5 15.b4 Nb6 16.Nb3 Bg4 17.0-0 Bxe2 18.Qxe2 Qd6 19.Nc5 Ne8 20.a4 Nxa4 21.N3xa4 bxa4 22.Rxa4 Nc7 23.Rfa1 Rfb8 24.Qg4 h6 25.g3 Rb6 26.h4 g6 27.h5 g5 28.Kg2 Kg7 29.Rc1 Rb5 30.Qf5 Rd8 31.Rca1 Rb6 32.Ra5 Rxb4 33.Nxa6 Nxa6 34.Rxa6 Rb6 35.Rxb6 Qxb6 36.Qe5+ Kg8 37.Rc1 Qe6 38.Qxe6 fxe6 39.Rc6 Re8

If he is allowed to play 40...g4 the position is a dead draw. Therefore, I played 40.g4 Kf7 41.f4. If I am to achieve anything I have to exchange my f pawn for his e pawn. However, during the game I assessed that the direct 41.f3 can be met by 41...Rb8. 41...exf3+. In the case of 41...gxf4 42.exf4 the white pawns' phalanx should secure me a clear advantage. 42.Kxf3 Ra8 43.Rc7+ Kg8 44.Re7 Ra6 45.Kg3 Rb6 46.Kf2 Rc6. Seemingly, at this moment we started to move to-and-fro without a clear purpose. The point is that I need to send my king to the queenside and, simultaneously, keep an eye on his potential counter play against my g4 pawn. 47.Ke1 Ra6 48.Ke2 Ra2+ 49.Kd1 Ra6

50.Ke2. If I play 50.Kc2 he can kick my rook with 50...Kf8! when 51.Rh7 is met by 51...Ra2+ 52.Kd3 Rg2 53.Rxh6 Kf7! and inevitable 54...Rxg4 deprives me of any winning potential. 50...Ra2+ 51.Kf3 Ra6 52.Kg2 Rb6 53.Kg3 Ra6 54.Kf3 Rb6 55.Ra7 Rb3 56.Ke2 Rb6 57.Kd2 Rc6 58.Kd3 Rb6 59.Kc3 Rc6+ 60.Kd3 Rb6 61.Ra3 Rb1 62.Ra8+ Kg7 63.Ra7+ Kg8 64.Re7 Rb3+ 65.Kd2 Rb2+ 66.Kc3 Rb6 67.Kc2

67...Rc6+. I made a significant progress over the last 17 moves. With some help from the opponent, my king reached the c file and Black was not allowed to equalize the way shown in the comment to the 50th move. Nevertheless, Black could still hold. For example, he could play 67...Kf8! 68.Rh7 e5! and 69.dxe5 is met by 69...Re6 70.Kd3 Kg8! 71.Rd7 Rxe5 and a draw is inevitable. 68.Kb3 Rb6+? Again he could play 68...Kf8! and then continue the way it was shown above. After the text he gets into trouble and his position is probably beyond repair. 69.Kc3 Ra6. Sooner or later he has to let my king into his camp. If he plays 69...Kh8 I set up a zugzwang by 70.Rf7 Kg8 71.Rf6 Kg7 72.Rg6+ Kh7 73.Kc2 and his rook, pinned to the e6 pawn, must leave the b file. The following play can go like this: 73...Rc6+ 74.Kb3 Rb6+ 75.Kc3 Rc6+ 76.Kb4 Rb6+ 77.Kc5 Ra6 78.Kb5 Rd6 79.Rf6 Kg7 80.Rf1 and then the white rook is transferred to the queenside, which should break his resistance. 70.Kb4 Kf8 71.Kb5l. 71.Rh7 should also win, but the text is simpler. 71...Kxe7. 71...Rd6 72.Rh7 e5 is hopeless due to 73.Kc5. 72.Kxa6

72...Kf7. If he keeps the king in the center, he should lose as well, e.g. 72...Ke8 73.Kb6 (but not 73.Kb7?? Kd7 and Black holds due to the opposition!) 73...Kd7 74.Kb7 Kd6 75.Kc8 e5 76.Kb7 and soon Black will be forced to give away the d pawn. 73.Kb7 Kg8 74.Kc8 Kg7 75.Kc7 Kg8 76.Kd6. Now he resigned, as one of his pawns is about to fall, e.g. e.g. 76...Kf7 77.Kd7 Kf6 78.Ke8 e5 79.Kd7 exd4 80.exd4 Kf7 81.Kd6. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Two rounds earlier Bartosz administered a similar beating to a talented IM Kacper Piorun.

GM Socko explains his play to the ChessBase reporter (with limited success)

Socko,Bartosz (2660) - Piorun,Kacper (2513) [D83]
ch POL Warsaw POL (4), 15.02.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.Rc1 Be6 7.c5 c6 8.Be2 Nbd7 9.h3 Ne4 10.Nf3 Nxc3 11.Rxc3 f6 12.0-0 Bf7 13.b4 a6 14.Bg3 e5 15.Qd2 Re8 16.a4 f5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 Bxe5 19.dxe5 Rxe5 20.Bf3 Qf6 21.Qd4 Kg7 22.Ra1 Re7 23.Kf1 f4 24.Rd1 fxe3 25.fxe3 Rae8 26.Kf2 Re5 27.b5 axb5 28.axb5 Be6 29.bxc6 bxc6 30.Rb3 Bf5 31.Rb7+ R8e7 32.Rxe7+ Rxe7 33.Ra1 Be4 34.Ra6 Qxd4 35.exd4 Bxf3 36.gxf3

The rook ending with material so much reduced and weaknesses on both sides should be drawish. But there is a huge difference between achieving a drawish position and scoring a draw when the game is finished. 36...Re6?! Better was 36...Rc7 when Black should draw easily. Afterwards, he can aim at the set-up including his pawns on h5 and g5 and the king on g6, f6 or f5. That kind of play should balance the activity of both kings and reduce Black's liabilities to the weakness on c6. However, the white pawn on d4 is also a potential weakness and, in many lines, Black can built his counter play upon it. 37.Ra7+! An unpleasant check. Black is now obliged to decide upon his king's position. 37...Kh6?! Black felt uneasy about placing his king at the 8th rank, but it seems that after 37...Kg8!? he could draw in a more comfortable way than after the text. Indeed, Black should be careful about potential activity of the white king. If he is allowed to enter into g5 or e5, Black is in a serious trouble. However, is not Black able to exclude the danger? He could take into account the following suggestion: to place the rook on f6 and move the g pawn to g5. That should secure sufficient Rf6-Rf4-d4 remedy against any advances of the white king. If White prevents g6-g5 with h3-h4 (excluding the Kg3-Kh4-g5 penetration), Black can respond with h7-h5 and send his king to d8. Anyway, your humble reporter cannot see, how to win with White, if these ideas are followed. Let's look at some exemplary lines: 38.Kg3 Rf6 39.Rc7 (39.Kg4 h6 40.h4 Rf7! 41.Ra8+ Kg7 42.Rc8 h5+ 43.Kg3 Rf6 44.Rc7+ Kf8 and Kf8-e8-d8) 39...g5 40.Kg4 h6 41.Kh5 Kf8 42.Rd7 Ke8 43.Rb7 Kd8 44.Ra7 Rxf3 45.Kxh6 Rxh3+ 46.Kxg5 Rd3= . It seems that Black is OK regardless of what his opponent might come up with.

38.h4! Remarkable idea that won the game. Bartosz Socko wants to imprison his opponent's king. Had he failed to make the text move, Black would have played 38...g5 and Kh6-g6 with an easy draw. 38...Rf6?! [Much better was 38...g5! 39.hxg5+ Kxg5 40.Rxh7 and despite being a pawn down Black should be able to hold. A similar rook ending, with the same pawn structure, was drawn in the 20th game of the Tal-Botvinnik rematch 1961. It seems that some differences between the two positions do not change the assessment.] 39.Kg3 Rf5? Black misses the last moment to play 39...g5! leading to the kind of position that was mentioned in the previous comment. After the text he will play without a king, which must be hopeless. 40.Rc7 Rf6

41.Kg4. Zugzwang. Black is obliged to let the white king through. 41...Re6 42.Kf4 Rf6+ 43.Ke5 Rf5+ 43...Rxf3 could not save the game as well, e.g. 44.Rxc6 Kh5 45.Rb6 Kxh4 46.c6 Rf8 47.c7 Rc8 48.Kd6 and White is much faster in queening his pawns. The text move is aimed at capturing the d4 pawn. 44.Kd6 Rf4 45.Rxc6 Rxd4 46.Rb6 Rc4. If 46...Rxh4 White could go on with 47.c6 Rc4 48.c7 Rxc7 (the threat was 49.Rc6) 49.Kxc7 Kg5 50.Kd6 Kf4 51.Kxd5 Kxf3 52.Ke5 h5 53.Rf6+! Kg3 54.Rxg6+ winning. By the way, the above line shows how easy it is to spoil that kind of endgame. If White played 53.Wxg6? (instead of 53.Wf6+!), Black could draw after 53...h4! 47.Kxd5. The alternative was 47.c6 Kh5 48.c7 Rxc7 49.Kxc7 Kxh4 and White can follow the winning method shown in the previous comment: 50.Kd6 Kg3 51.Kxd5 Kxf3 52.Ke5 h5 53.Rf6+! Kg3 54.Rxg6+. 47...Rc3 48.c6 Rd3+. If 48...Kh5 the most practical solution is 49.Rb4 , denying Black any counter play, e.g. 49...Rd3+ 50.Ke6 Rxf3 51.c7 Rc3 52.Kd6 Rxc7 53.Kxc7 g5 54.hxg5 Kxg5 55.Kd6 h5 56.Ke5 h4 57.Ke4 Kg4 58.Ke3+ Kg3 59.Rb8 h3 60.Rg8+ Kh2 61.Kf2 Kh1 62.Rb8 Kh2 63.Rh8 Kh1 64.Rxh3#. 49.Kc4 Rxf3 50.c7 Rf4+ 51.Kd5 Rf5+ 52.Kc6 Rf6+ 53.Kb7 Rf7 54.Rb5! 54.Kb8 should also win, but still it leaves some room to go astray and draw. The text move cuts the black king along the 5th rank, killing any counter play. Therefore, Black resigned. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Piotr Kaim (born 1973) is a Polish candidate master playing for the YMCA Warszawa (Warsaw) Club. Besides he is a freelance journalist who has contributed to numerous periodicals, magazines, newspapers and Internet sites. His articles concerned wide range of topics related, among others, to politics, chess and taxes.

Piotr is a certified tax advisor and had a 12 year career with PricewaterhouseCoopers Poland tax advisory services. He also submitted the most unusual photo of himself for publication.

Previous reports

Bartel wins Polish Championship despite a disturbing thought
27.02.2011 – Mateusz Bartel (2617) and Jolanta Zawadzka (2371) won the Polish Chess Championship men’s and women’s sections respectively. Both the winners came clear first, scoring 7/9. GM Bartel won the tournament for the second time in a succession and showed a respectable 2789 performance. That in spite of disturbing night-time thoughts. Pictorial report by Piotr Kaim.

Polish Chess Championship: all about the beauty
03.03.2011 – There is no memorable tournament without beautiful games. In our second visit to the men’s and women’s sections of the Polish Chess Championship (12-20 February 2011) we focus on spectacular shots, pretty combinations, and elegant mating conclusions. After that you can take a short pictorial trip around Warsaw, the city where the tournament was held. Report by Piotr Kaim.


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