Rook and connected pawns versus rook and pawn

This endgame features a quite surprising defensive resource by Black to save what should have been a lost endgame.

The 7-man ending began after Black's 46th move. Initially White was winning.

Black chose an objectively inferior line of defence that offered practical chances and this paid off.

At the critical moment GM Nisipeanu failed to see the necessity to give up his rearguard pawn.

The second diagram shows the position at that point. Young Indian grandmaster Adhiban seized his opportunity.

With a succession of threats to force repetition, win the advanced g-pawn or even to deliver checkmate (from two different directions!) he forced his opponent to underpromote to a knight.

Adhiban then held the resulting knight-down ending quite comfortably.

L. D. Nisipeanu - Baskaran Adhiban
Tata Steel Masters, Wijk aan Zee 2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Be2 Bg4 5.0-0 e6 6.h3 Bh5 7.d4 Nxe4 8.d5 Nd7 9.dxe6 fxe6 10.Nfd2 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Nxd2 12.Nxd2 Qf6 13.Ne4 Qg6 14.Rd1 d5 15.Ng5 0-0-0 16.Qxe6 Qxe6 17.Nxe6 Re8 18.Nf4 Nb6 19.a4 a5 20.Be3 Re5 21.Nd3 Re4 22.Bxc5 Bxc5 23.Nxc5 Rc4 24.Ne6 g6 25.Nd4 Rxa4 26.Rxa4 Nxa4 27.Ra1 Nxb2 28.Rxa5 Re8 29.Rc5+ Kb8 30.Rxd5 Kc7 31.Rc5+ Kb8 32.Rd5 Kc7 33.g4 Na4 34.Ra5 Nb6 35.Kg2 Re4 36.f3 Re1 37.h4 Rd1 38.h5 Kd6 39.hxg6 hxg6 40.Rg5 Nd5 41.Rxg6+ Kc5 42.Rg8 Nxc3 43.Ne6+ Kd6 44.Nf4 Ke5 45.Rc8 b5 46.Rxc3 Kxf4 7-man ending R+2 v R+1. White should win 47.Rb3 The second best move according to Probe, as White should now mate in 45. [47.Rc5 mate in 43] 47...Rd2+ 48.Kh3 Rd5 49.Kh4 Rc5 50.g5 White can mate in 39. 50...Rd5!? This is a good practical try although objectively a weaker defence; now White should mate in 31 moves. [Probe's main line begins 50...Rc7 51.Rb4+ Kxf3 52.g6 Rb7 53.Kh5 ] 51.Rb4+ Kf5 52.Kh5 Rc5 53.g6?! Premature; of the seven moves that retain the win, this is slowest. [53.Rd4 Rc3 54.Rd8 is best; Black loses rapidly if he captures on f3, and after 54...Rc2 55.Rf8+ Ke5 56.g6 Rh2+ 57.Kg5 Rg2+ 58.Kh6 Rh2+ 59.Kg7 Rg2 60.Rb8+- ] 53...Kf6+ 54.Kh6 Rf5 55.f4? This passive move spoils the win, for which the second pawn is not required. The refutation is very concrete and the Indian GM found it. [55.Rd4! and if 55...Rxf3 56.Rd6+ Ke7 57.Rb6 Rh3+ 58.Kg7 Rh5 59.Kg8 Rh6 60.Rb7+ Kd6 61.Kg7! Rh5 62.Kf6 Kc6 63.Rb8 Rh6 64.Kg5 Rh3 65.g7 Rg3+ 66.Kf6 and after queening the pawn White wins with R versus pawn as his king is close enough.] 55...Rd5! Immediately taking advantage with a nice tactical point. 56.Rb1 Rd8 Threatening mate in one! 57.g7 The only way forward. [57.Kh7 Rd7+ 58.Kh6 (58.Kh8? Kxg6 ) 58...Rd8 repeats the position.; 57.Kh5 Rh8+ 58.Kg4 Kxg6 ] 57...Rd3 Also 57...Rd2 would suffice. The new mate threat forces White to give up hope of promoting to a queen. The only try is 58.g8N+ but after 58...Kf5[] 59.Rb4 Re3[] 60.Rd4 [60.Ne7+?? Rxe7 ] 60...Re4 White cannot keep his last pawn and eventually the game will be drawn with accurate defence: 61.Rd5+ Kxf4 62.Rxb5 Re6+ 63.Kg7 Ra6 64.Nf6 Ra1 65.Kf7 Ra3 66.Nd5+ Ke5 67.Nb4+ Ke4 68.Ke6 Rh3 69.Nd5 Kd4 70.Rb4+ Kc5 71.Re4 Rh1 72.Nf6 Rh6 73.Rg4 Rh1 74.Nd7+ Kb5 75.Ne5 Rd1 76.Rg8 Kc5 77.Rc8+ Kb4 78.Rc7 Kb3 79.Kf5 Rd4 80.Nf3 Rd1 81.Ke4 Kb4 82.Rc8 Rh1 83.Kd4 Rd1+ 84.Ke4 Rh1 85.Kd5 Rh5+ 86.Kd4 Kb5 87.Ne5 Rh4+ 88.Kd5 Kb4 89.Nd3+ Kb3 90.Nc5+ Kb2 91.Ne4 Rh1 92.Kd4 Rd1+ 93.Ke3 Kb3 94.Nc5+ Kb4 95.Nd3+ Kb5 96.Rc5+ Kb6 97.Rc3 Kb5 98.Kd4 Rh1 99.Kd5 Rh5+ 100.Ne5 Kb4 101.Rf3 Rg5 102.Kd4 Rh5 103.Rf4 Kb5 104.Kd5 Rg5 105.Rf8 Kb4 106.Kd4 Kb3 107.Rb8+ Kc2 108.Rc8+ Kb3 109.Rc3+ Kb4 110.Rc5 Rg8 111.Nd3+ 1/2-1/2

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