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Monday, February 19, 2007

Bishop and Rook's Pawn Ending

In Steve Giddins' excellent new book 101 Chess Endgame Tips, published by Gambit Publications, he states, "It is well known that bishop + rook's pawn do not win if the bishop does not control the queening square and the [opposing] king can get in the corner."

For example, he provides the following position:


In the game, White played 1.Kc4? b5+! after which the Black king shuttles between b7 and a8 to draw. Instead, Giddins says, White could have kept Black out with 1.Kd4! Kc6 2.Bb6 Kd6 3.Kc4 Kc6 4.Kb4 Kd6 5.Kb5 Kd7 6.Kc5 Kc8 7.Ba7 Kc7 (7...b6+ 8.Kxb6, or 7...b5 8.a6) 8.Kb5 Kd7 9.Bb8 Kc8 10.Bf4 Kd7 11.Kb6 Kc8 12.Bg3 and White wins.

But now look at the following position:


As you can see, the White bishop does not control the queening square for his rook pawn and the Black king is already in the corner. It should be a dead draw, right? Giddins demonstrates how White can yet pull out an elegant win:

"This would be a draw without the second Black pawn on g5, but here 1.Bh7 g3 (forced) 2.hxg3 g4 (no stalemate!) 3.Be4 wins, since White has transformed his h-pawn into a g-pawn."

It's an excellent book, full of such examples of precise endgame play.

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