John Nunn 50th birthday endgame study tourney

2/22/2006 – Last week we brought you a selection studies that were submitted to a composing tourney, organised to celebrate Grandmaster John Nunn's 50th birthday. The article contained partial solutions, which our readers were expected to complete. Here are the full solutions and links to all the studies in the award. Enjoy!

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50th birthday endgame study tourney

By John Nunn

As part of my 50th birthday celebrations last April, I arranged a blitz tournament and a study composing tourney, which attracted an amazing total of 85 studies from composers all over the world. A week ago I showed readers three of the nicest entries, with partial solutions, which they were expected to complete. Well, here now are the complete solutions. At the end of the article I give links where you can download all the studies in the award.

Now for the solutions:

Yuri Bazlov (Russia)
5th Prize, Nunn-50JT, 2005

White to play and draw

We started with 1 Nh8! Ne5

How should White continue?

2 Nf7!

This move is simply unbelievable. Already one piece down, White offers a second one! Black must accept as both his minor pieces are under fire.

2...Nxf7 3 Kg6!

It is remarkable that White, who is two whole minor pieces down for no pawns and has his only pawn on the second rank, can nevertheless reach a draw.


The best try is to sacrifice the bishop, as 3...Kc6 4 Kxf7 Kd5 5 Kg6 draws as in the note to Black’s first move.

4 Kf5!

Declining the offer. 4 Kxg5? loses after 4...Kc6! 5 Kf4 Kd6! (gaining the opposition) 6 Ke4 (6 Kf5 Kd5 wins) 6...Ke6 7 Kf4 Kf6 8 g3 Ke6 9 Kg5 Kd5 10 Kf5 Kd4 11 Kf4 Kd3! and the g3-pawn falls.


Amazing but true; Black cannot win despite being two clear minor pieces up. 4...Nf3 5 Kxg4 and 4...Bf6 5 Kxf6 Nf3 6 Kf5 Nh2 7 Kf4 are both clear draws.

5 Kg6 Ne5+ 6 Kf5!

White repeats the position. [Click to replay]

Jarl H Ulrichsen (Norway)
8th Prize, Nunn-50JT, 2005

White to play and draw

After 1 Kc7! Ka7 2 Kc6 Ka6 White must play very precisely to draw.

The study is based on a set of reciprocal zugzwangs (in all cases the pawns are on their current squares):

Z1: Kc3 v Kc5, Bd1. It is obvious that this is a draw with Black to play, as if he moves his bishop White plays b4+ followed by a4. With White to play it is not so clear after 1 b4+, but Black wins by outflanking; for example, 1...Kd5 2 Kd2 Ba4 3 Kd3 Ke5 4 Ke3 Bb3 5 Kd3 Kf4 6 Kd4 Kf3 7 Kc3 Ba4 8 Kd3 Kf2 9 Kd2 Kf1 and now his king penetrates towards the white pawns.

Z2: Kc3 v Ka5, Bd1. With White to play 1 Kb2 Kb6 2 Kc3 Kc5 is Z1. Black to play has nothing better than 1...Bh5, but after 2 Kd2 it’s a draw. As soon as Black moves his king away from a5 White plays b4 and then a4. As we can see, occupation of d1 by Black’s bishop is an important factor.

Z3: Kd4 v Ka5, Be2. White to play can only continue 1 Kc3, but after 1...Bd1 we have Z2. If Black to play continues 1...Bh5, say, then 2 Kd3 (not 2 Kc3? Bd1) 2...Bd1 (or else Kd2 prevents ...Bd1) 3 Kc3 is Z2 with Black to play. If 1...Bf1, then 2 Kc3 and 3 Kc2 (or d2).

Now it is possible to understand the continuation.

3 Kd5!

The first surprise. Not 3 Kc5? Ka5 and after 4 Kd5 Bd3! 5 Kd4 Bc2 6 Kc3 Bd1 or 4 Kd4 Be2! 5 Kc3 Bd1! we arrive at Z2.


Other moves are no better: 3...Bd3 4 Kd4 Bc2 5 Kc3 followed by Kb4 draws at once, while 3...Be2 4 Kc5! (threatening 5 Kb4; not, however, 4 Kd4? Bd1 5 Kc3 Ka5) 4...Ka5 (forced) 5 Kd4 is Z3.

4 Ke4!!

The second surprise. 4 Kd4? Be2 is Z3, while 4 Kc5? (or 4 Ke5?) 4...Bd3 5 Kd4 Bc2 6 Kc3 Bd1 is Z2.

4...Be2 5 Kd4

Now we have Z3.


5...Kb6 6 Kc3 Kc5 7 b4+ Kc6 8 a4 draws.

6 Kd3!

The final accurate move, threatening to play 7 Kc2 (or 7 Kd2) controlling d1. 6 Kc3? loses to 6...Bd1.

6...Bd1 7 Kc3

With reciprocal zugzwang Z2. [Click to replay]

Oleg Pervakov & Karen Sumbatyan (Russia)
1st Prize, Nunn-50JT, 2005

White to play and draw

After 1 e7 Rf1+! 2 Rxf1 Ra1 we had the following position:

3 Rhf6!

3 Rh8+? is wrong: 3...Kxe7 4 Rh7+ (4 Rhf8? b1Q wins for Black here because the f8-rook is under attack and so White cannot take on b1, while continuing to check fails because the black queen controls f5: 5 R8f7+ Ke6 6 R7f6+ Ke5 7 R6f5+ Qxf5 and Black wins) 4...Ke6! (Black’s king must stay on the e-file so as to have the white rook under attack if White doubles rooks on the f-file) 5 Rh6+ Ke5! 6 Rh5+ Ke4! 7 Rxh4+ (7 Rhf5 b1Q 8 R5f4+ Ke5 9 Rxb1 Rxb1+ 10 Kg2 Rb2+! wins) 7...Ke3 8 Rhf4 Rc1! (but not 8...b1Q? 9 R4f3+! Ke2 10 Rxb1 Rxb1+ 11 Kg2 drawing) reaches essentially the same position as in the main line after 8...Kd3. However, White then loses because the stalemate defence of the main line is not available.


The most dangerous move. 3...b1Q (3...Kxe7 4 Kg2 b1Q 5 Rxb1 is also drawn) 4 Rxb1 Rxb1+ 5 Kg2 draws because the rook is not attacked on f6 and if 5...Rb2+, then 6 Kg1 Rh2 7 Re6 Rxh3 8 Re2 is an immediate draw.

4 Rf8+ Kxe7 5 R8f7+ Ke6 6 R7f6+ Ke5

If Black plays his king to the b-file by 6...Kd5 7 R6f5+ Kc4 8 R5f4+ Kb3 then 9 Rf8 draws.

7 R6f5+ Ke4!

Black’s king does not have to stay on the e-file in this line, but the result is the same whether he ends up on c3, d3 or e3, and this move sets a trap.

8 R5f4+!

8 Rb5? Rxf1+ 9 Kg2 Rf2+! (but not 9...b1Q?? 10 Rxb1 Rxb1 stalemate) wins for Black and 8 Kg2? is too early: after 8...b1Q 9 R1f4+ Ke3 10 Rf3+ Kd4 11 R3f4+ Kc3 12 Rf3+ Kb4! 13 R3f4+ Rc4 the checks come to an end.

8...Kd3 9 Kg2!

Now is the right time for this move. Black has nothing better than to promote.

9...b1Q 10 R1f3+!

The same manoeuvre can be played when the black king is on any square on the third rank, except b3 (since in that case R1f3+ can be met by ...Rc3!), but then White draws by Rf8, as in the note to Black’s 6th move.

10...Kc2 11 Rc4+ Kd2

11...Kd1 12 Rxc1+ draws.

12 Rd4+ Ke2

Certainly not 12...Ke1?? 13 Re3#.

13 Re4+! Qxe4


Now we see why White had to avoid winning the h4-pawn. [Click to replay]


The whole award contains 30 studies, and there is plenty of interest in the other 27 positions. You can download the whole award in either pdf format or pgn format. In the former case you will need Acrobat Reader and for the latter you will need a program that can play over pgn files (ChessBase, Fritz and many other programs, both commercial and free).

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