Endgame Riddle solved: Kurajica could have drawn

by Karsten Müller
3/28/2022 – The last endgame riddle showed a position from a game between Bojan Kurajica and Anatoly Karpov, played in Skopje 1976. Karpov won the game but as endings with opposite-coloured bishops have huge drawish tendencies one wonders where Kurajica went wrong. The ChessBase readers, Charles Sullivan, Wolfram Schön, Zoran Petronijevic and Karsten Müller took a close look at the ending and came up with a number of improvements for both sides.

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Bojan Kurajica vs Anatoly Karpov, Skopje 1976

Conclusions

1. The initial position is clearly better for Black. But 29…Re8? gives Black's advantage away. After 29…h4 Black has great winning chances.

2. According to Karpov, 32.Qd3 is dubious. He proposes 32.h4 instead, with even play. In fact, both moves lead to a draw.

3. Karpov thought that 37.Ke3 loses and suggested 37.gxh4 instead. But analysis shows that the game move also leads to even play.

4. Both Kasparov and Karpov consider 44.d5 to be the losing move. But analysis shows that the position is still even.

5. 45.d4? is the first serious mistake by White and leads to a losing position. Better was 45.Ke3 and White is able to keep equality.

6. 45…f4? is a mistake and throws the win away. After 45…c6! Black is winning.

7. 47.Kg2? leads to a lost position. 47.c6 or 47.f5 or 47.fxg4+ would have led to equality.

8. 47…Bf5? is a mistake and throws the win away. Better is 47…c6 and Black is winning.

9. 48.Kf2? is a mistake. Better is either 48.c6 or 48.fxg4 with an even position.

10. 49…Be4+? is a mistake that throws the win away. Better is the subtle 49…c6 and Black is winning.

11. 51.Bb2? is the decisive mistake. White’s last chance was 51.c6!!, after which the position is even.

 

 


Karsten Müller is considered to be one of the greatest endgame experts in the world. His books on the endgame - among them "Fundamentals of Chess Endings", co-authored with Frank Lamprecht, that helped to improve Magnus Carlsen's endgame knowledge - and his endgame columns for the ChessCafe website and the ChessBase Magazine helped to establish and to confirm this reputation. Karsten's Fritztrainer DVDs on the endgame are bestsellers. The mathematician with a PhD lives in Hamburg, and for more than 25 years he has been scoring points for the Hamburger Schachklub (HSK) in the Bundesliga.
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