A position worth knowing to save a knight ending

This was the position after White's 53rd move, Kd2-e2. The Scottish player (Black) has an extra pawn, the winning process certainly is not obvious, especially against the pressure of the clock.

Pannwitz, the Under 14 European Boys Champion, outplayed his promising younger opponent until now, but ultimately failed in the difficult technical phase. Juniors typically are weaker (due to lack of experience) in the endgame phase and this is another case in point.

The young Chinese-Irish player Li also deserves credit for seeing the chance to achieve a positional draw.

(1) Li,Henri (IRL) - Pannwitz,Kia (SCO) [B23]
John Robinson Cup, Under-14 international teams (4.1), 21.07.2015

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.f4 b5 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 e6 6.d3 d5 7.Nh3 Be7 8.0-0 b4 9.Ne2 dxe4 10.dxe4 Qxd1 11.Rxd1 Nd7 12.Be3 Ngf6 13.Nf2 0-0-0 14.c3 Kb8 15.Rac1 h5 16.h3 Nh7 17.cxb4 cxb4 18.e5 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Kb7 20.Nd4 Nb8 21.Ne4 Rd5 22.Rc4 Rc8 23.Rdc1 Rxc4 24.Rxc4 a5 25.Kf3 Nf8 26.g4 hxg4+ 27.hxg4 Nfd7 28.Rc1 g5 29.Nd6+ Bxd6 30.exd6 Rxd6 31.fxg5 Na6 32.Nb3 Rd5 33.Rf1 Ne5+ 34.Ke4 a4 35.Nd2 Kc6 36.Nf3 Nxg4 37.Nd4+ Kd6 38.Rxf7 Nc5+ 39.Kf4 Nxe3 40.Kxe3 Rxg5 41.Nf3 Rg2 42.Nd2 Rg3+ 43.Rf3 Rxf3+ 44.Nxf3 e5 45.Nd2 Kd5 46.Nf3 Ne6 47.Kd2 e4 48.Nh4 Nd4 49.Ng2 Nf5 50.Nf4+ Kd4 51.Ne6+ Kc4 52.Ng5 e3+ 53.Ke2

53...a3! Black is trying to force K entry to the queenside and objectively this may be the best move. [53...b3 would be met by 54.a3 Can Black win here? (54.axb3+?? Kxb3 and Black mates in 16 moves.) The Houdini 4 engine suggests 54...Kd5 55.Kd3 Nd6 56.Kxe3 Nc4+ 57.Kd3 Nxb2+ but the tablebase shows that White can draw by 58.Kc3! Nc4 59.Nf3 (Surprisingly one other move can also save White: 59.Nh7 Ke5! Trying to keep the knight away (59...b2 60.Kc2 Kd4 is foiled by 61.Ng5 or Nf6 or even Nf8.; 59...Nxa3 60.Nf6+ and the knight comes back in time to assist.) 60.Ng5! Everything else loses.) 59...Kc5 (A tablebase is not required to see that after 59...Nxa3 60.Kb4 the king will capture the a-pawn while the knight helps to stop the b-pawn.) 60.Nd2!? as the king and pawn endgame is drawn! (60.Ng5 and Black cannot win even with two extra pawns: 60...Nxa3 61.Ne4+ followed by Nd2 and Nxb3 etc.) 60...Nxd2 61.Kxd2 Kd4 62.Kc1 (Or Kd1) 62...Kc3 63.Kb1 and Black can make no progress: 63...b2 64.Ka2 Kc2 stalemate] 54.bxa3 bxa3 55.Ne4 Kd4 56.Nf6 Kc3? This throws away the win. [56...Ng3+! drives the White king to a disadvantageous position, whichever square he chooses. 57.Kf3 (57.Kd1 Ne4! Also 57...Nh1 preserves the win. 58.Ng4 loses after either 58...Nc3+ or (58...Nf2+ ) ; 57.Ke1 Ne4 Not the only winning move, but the quickest 58.Ng4 Nc3 and White loses because his king cannot head for the a1 corner.) 57...e2 (57...Nf5 also wins but slower) 58.Kf2 Kc3 Also Kd3 is a slower win 59.Ke1 Kb2 wins the a-pawn] 57.Nd5+! Kb2 58.Nb4 Kc3 59.Nd5+ Repeats the position 59...Kd4 60.Nxe3! Nxe3 61.Kd2 Because of stalemate possibilities this is a positional draw. White's correct moves are forced and so not difficult to find. 61...Nd5 62.Kc2 Kc4 63.Kb1 Kc3 64.Ka1 Now Kc1 also holds. White only has to keep his king near the corner. 64...Nb4 65.Kb1 Nc2 66.Kc1 White has achieved a position analogous to example 2-5 in Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual. His king cannot be forced away from its refuge. 66...Nd4 67.Kb1 Kd2 68.Ka1 Kd1 69.Kb1 1/2-1/2

All games on this page as PGN here

Generated with ChessBase 10
Download CBLight for free here