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Attack in the Endgame: Finishing the Game


We finished with this chess position last time:

Petrosian played the strong move 40.Rc6!. Now, in addition to operating on the c-file, the rook gains access to the 6th rank. After 40...Rh1, Petrosian played another strong move: 41.Kf7! White threats Re6, dislodging the bishop and winning material. Notice that White only has this move because Black moved their rook to h1. If the rook was still on h5, it could have gone to f5, checking the white king away from the f-file. This reminds me of something the famous Indian coach RB Ramesh once said about playing superior endgames: You should think about the drawbacks of the opponent's move! After 41...Ra1 42.Re6, the following position was reached:

Compare the perfect coordination of White's pieces with the vulnerability of Black's king and bishop, with the rook unable to help. After 42...Bd8, the encirclement continued: 43.Rd6+ Kc8 44.Ke8 Bc7 45.Rc6

White is now threatening Ng5 followed by Ne6. For example, if Black played 45...Rxa4, 46.Ng5 threatens to attack the pinned bishop on c7. 46...Kb7 gets out of the pin, but then 47.Ne6 forces 47...Bb8. Then the cornering of Black's king and bishop is complete: 48.Nd8+ Ka8 49.Rc8 winning - there is no defense to Nc6! I can't resist giving this position its own diagram:

Amazing! Perfect coordination of White's rook and knight.

Not wanting to suffer this fate, Botvinnik instead played 45...Rd1, bringing up the following position:

"Black's rook must rush back to the d-file to prevent White's forces from rounding up Black's king and bishop, but it can't also secure his kingside pawns." - Pritchett. After 46.Ng5 (intending Ne6) 46...Rd8+ 47.Kf7 Rd7+ 48.Kg8, Black resigned.

After, for example, 48...h6, White exchanges all the pieces and wins the king and pawn endgame by taking a kingside pawn: 49.Ne6 Kb7 50.Rxc7+ Rxc7 51.Nxc7 Kxc7 52.Kg7.

That wraps up Petrosian's tour de force! Today's excerpt showed the ideas of attack in the endgame, piece coordination, and the perfect cooperation of rook and knight. Check back tomorrow for something completely different!