Knight and Pawn swindle Bishop

The 7-man ending shown in the first diagram begins after White's 68th book and the game should have ended in a draw.

Strictly speaking this ending does not belong in our series because the decisive moment occurs in a 5-man ending, but Tim could not resist including it as a he was a spectator, the winner of the game having been his first round opponent at Gibraltar.

Black cannot keep his queenside pawn in the long run but it draws the White king away from the g-pawn and sets up the theoretical ending of knight and g-pawn against Bishop.

The second diagram shows the critical position where, in the sixth hour of play, the defender's technique failed him.

Black cannot drive off the B and then intercept the diagonal, since for one task he needs the K on g1 and for the other it needs to be on f2. However there is an alternative winning plan which Esserman knew from a previous game. White therefore thinks he only needs to avoid N checks but he overlooked the smothering manoeuvre.

American IM Marc Esserman was rewarded for his persistence in trying to win. Later in the tournament he beat Nigel Short and drew with Vishy Anand.

Felipe Menna Barreto - Marc Esserman
Tradewise Gibraltar Masters 2016

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.g3 c5 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.0-0 0-0 8.d3 Rb8 9.Rb1 Ne8 10.Be3 Nc7 11.d4 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Ne6 13.Nde2 Qa5 14.Qd2 Re8 15.f4 a6 16.a3 Bd7 17.b4 Qxa3 18.Nd5 a5 19.f5 axb4 20.fxe6 Bxe6 21.Bh6 Bxh6 22.Qxh6 Ne5 23.Nc7 Bxc4 24.Nxe8 Rxe8 25.Qd2 Qa6 26.Nd4 Bxf1 27.Bxf1 Qa7 28.Kh1 Ng4 29.h3 Nf6 30.Bg2 Qa3 31.Rb3 Qa1+ 32.Kh2 Nd7 33.Rxb4 Qa5 34.Rb2 Qxd2 35.Rxd2 Nc5 36.Ra2 Rb8 37.Nb5 Kg7 38.Kg1 Kf6 39.Rf2+ Kg7 40.Rc2 Ne6 41.Ra2 Rc8 42.Kf2 Rc4 43.Rb2 Nc5 44.Ke3 Na4 45.Rb1 Rc2 46.Bf3 Nc5 47.Be2 Kf6 48.Rf1+ Kg7 49.Rb1 Ra2 50.Nc3 Ra3 51.Kd2 e6 52.Kc2 Kf6 53.Rf1+ Ke7 54.h4 Rb3 55.Ra1 Rb4 56.Bd3 Nb3 57.Rb1 Nd4+ 58.Kd2 Rxb1 59.Bxb1 Kf6 60.Ke3 Nc6 61.g4 h6 62.Nb5 Ke5 63.g5 hxg5 64.hxg5 d5 65.exd5 exd5 66.Ba2 d4+ 67.Nxd4 Nxd4 68.Bxf7

Theoretically drawn 7-man ending but Black gives it a try of course. 68...Nf5+ 69.Kd3 [69.Kf3 also holds with correct subsequent play] 69...Ne7 70.Kc4 [70.Be8 is the only other move to hold (keeps N tied to pawn)] 70...Kf5 71.Kc5 Nc8 Holds b-pawn temporarily. 72.Be8 Kxg5 73.Bd7 Ne7 74.Kb6 Kf4 75.Kxb7 Now N+P v B 75...Nf5 76.Kb6 g5 77.Kc5 g4 78.Kc4 The situation is becoming critical because White's K cannot get in front of the pawn, but the ending is still drawn. 78...g3

79.Bc6[] Ke3 80.Bh1 Also 80 Bg2, 80 Kc3 and Kc5 hold the draw. 80...Nh4

81.Kb5?? [81.Kd5 Kf2 82.Ke4 (82.Ke5 Also White holds by Kd4 or even Ke6 82...Ng2 83.Ke4 or Kf5 83...Kg1 84.Kf3 ) 82...Ng2 83.Kf5[] Kg1 84.Kg4[] Kh2 85.Kf3[] Ne1+ (85...Nh4+ 86.Kg4 leads to repetition) 86.Kg4!= (86.Ke2 Kxh1 87.Kxe1 g2 ) ; 81.Bb7?? Nf3 ; 81.Kc3 also holds as K can go to d4 next move; 81.Kc5 ditto] 81...Kf2 82.Ka6 Ng2 Next comes Kg1 so White resigned. 0-1

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