I recently played a correspondence game, where the final part was quite interesting.  It was “Marshall attack” thematic game, where I played White,  successfully defended in the middlegame and went into N vs. B endgame with a spare pawn. 

knight1

You can use books in these games,  so I looked at Averbakh’s “Chess endings” – “Bishop vs. Knight”.  What he says about the situation like mine is that you should maximally improve the position of your pieces and pawns. You shouldn’t hurry to create, especially to advance, a passed pawn. The most important is weakening of your opponent’s pawn configuration to create points of entry for your king penetrating into enemy’s terrytory and creating another passed pawn.

34. f3 f6 35. Kf2 Kf7 36. Ke3 g5 37. Nb1 – knight is going to c3. 

knight2

37. … Ke6 38. Nc3 Kd6 39. Nb5+ Kd7 40. Nc3 Kd6 41. f4

knight31

Crafty wants to play b4 right away,  I do it on the next move – 41. … g4 42. b4 axb4 43. axb4 f5? – the idea is to lock the game, it doesn’t work. Crafty’s estimate drops from 1.95 to 2.50,  it wants to play Bf5. I didn’t like g4 either,  it makes the bishop really “bad”.

knight4

44. Kd2 Be6 45. Kc2 Kc6 46. Kb3 Kb6 47. Ka4

knight5

47. … Bf7 48. b5 Bg8 49. Kb4 – with the threat Na4+ 

knight61

49. … Kc7 – loses right away, but there is no survival – 49. … Be6 50. Na4+ Ka7 51. b6+ Kb8 52. Nc5 Bf7 53. Kb5 Be8+ 54. Ka6 Bc6 55. b7 Bxb7+ 56. Nxb7 

50.  Kc5 – 1:0.

knight7

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I was going to write about rook endgames, but something came up and changed it.

I played online a few days ago, it was my favorite Marshall attack, the forced line where I get a bishop for 2 pawns. I had that line already in 2 games, lost that advantage later in one and gave checkmate in another. Now the queens were exchanged, then rooks and we got to endgame K+B+4P vs. K+6P. Despite of my expectations, the game ended in a draw, I was pissed off at myself and decided to get to the root of it.  

 

Bishop equals three pawns, we learned that at the beginning of our chess careers.

So, if in the endgame you have bishop for 2 pawns, you got great winning chances, right?

Not so simple. Excellent example is the first game from the World Championship match

Fisher-Spassky in 1972.  After bizarre move 29. … Bxh2

 

 

that Fisher did ( some people say, that it was miscalculation, he counted on the following line: 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3 33. Kg4 Bg1 34. Kxh3 Bxf2 ,

 

 

 

but didn’t see 35. Bd2! catching the bishop) from equal bishop ending it became bishop vs. pawns endgame. He had drawing chances later, one of them was pointed out by Speelman:

Fischer playing 37. …a6 instead of 37. …Ke4

 

 

 

37…a6! 38.Kf3 axb5 39.axb5 b6 ! 40.Bf8 g6 41.Bg7 f5 42.Bd4 Kc4 43.Bxb6 g5 ! 44.Bc7 Kxb5 45.Bd8+ g4+ 46.Ke2 Kc4 

 

with a clear draw. Finally he lost.

As for my game, looks like I didn’t have the right plan in the beginning, then didn’t use the chances that my opponent gave me, the last one:

 

 

White played 54. d6? instead of 54. Kb6 with a draw.

Black returned the favor, playing 54. … Kf7 which leads to draw, instead of

playing 54. … Bg5 55. Kc6 Kf5 56. Kc7 Ke5 57. Kc6 Kd4 with a win.