Initiative in Endgames, Part 5

  • WIM energia
  • | 2012. okt. 12.
  • | 7047 megtekintés
  • | 8 hozzászólás

"Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."- Mark Twain

I feel like this saying fits perfectly as the theme of many chess games. How many chess players are romantics at heart and go after a dream (and possibly incorrect) combination instead of a boring but safe move? Or how many chess players out there took unjustified risk and somehow ended up winning? One cannot win a close game without taking a measure of a risk but where is the boundary between accepted risk and a risk that leads to a disaster? Watching numerous games of Carlsen I observed that he is a player who walks this thin line often but more often than not gets out of trouble and ends up with a point more than his opponent. Today's game is an outlier - it is Caruana who took a significant practical risk and gave more than one chance for Carlsen to go wrong. Having the initiative for the past 50 moves Carlsen took only small measures of risk that kept his position promising for a win. However, things got really messy when Caruana, who did not produce many active moves over the last 50 moves, which it was the right strategy came up with a blow that a few moves later secured him a winning position. We looked at the first three parts of this game a week ago and they can be found here. The reason to break the game into segments is to outline the critical moments and the shift of plans. As a reminder this article is part of the series on initiative in endgames.


Part 4: Tying white pieces to the queenside Carlsen gets his king to the center.

Next stage of the game is pretty straight-forward. Carlsen keeps white king on the queenside by attacking the a3-pawn - tying the white king to its defense and moves with the king to the centre. Caruana prevents Ke4 with Re1, so Carlsen threatens a pawn-break on the queenside to keep the white rook away from e1. This cost him the price of not being able to attack the a3-weakness and freed the white king from its defense. The plan that Carlsen chose seems to be the only one that promises some chances for a win. And one can only admire Carlsen's determination.

Part 5: Breakthrough on the queenside, sacrifice e6-pawn but achieve a clear target on c2.

In the next part of the game black finally breaks through on the queenside, however, at a cost of giving an extra pawn back and letting the white rook to become active. Carlsen takes a small risk again but he is correct in choosing this path because this was the only way to capitalize on his initiative. Although no longer a pawn up, the c2-pawn is a real weakness and under normal circumstances should fall soon.

Part 6: Creative exchange sac from Caruana!

The last part of the game is dramatic and heartbreaking as our protagonist missteps and ends up in a losing position. But first things first, Caruana comes up with an interesting exchange sacrifice that allows white to have two passed pawns and to keep the c2-pawn for a move or two at the board. If Carlsen played correctly Caruana's position would be losing in a few moves. One has to realize that giving up an exchange was a drastic decision and one had to have a measure of risk. The situation is from a real game with a clock ticking and probably both opponents being very low on time. Considering the time pressure it is extremely hard to find the right sequence of moves for black. On the other hand white's plan is clear: block the e-pawn and push the f and the d-pawns. Did Caruana calculate all these nuances? Probably not, my guess is that he took an intuitive decision and it payed off. After all, Carlsen did not choose the right move order: Rb2 - pinning the king to the defense of the c2-pawn and only then Kg2 and not vice versa. The combination of Kg2 and Rb2 is losing for black because white's pawns are faster. This is not by no means easy to see at the board and even in the home analysis.

Next week we will continue with the topic of initiative in endgames.


  • 4 év ezelőtt


    Thanx for the informative article

  • 4 év ezelőtt


    @ WIM energia

    Thank you, I finally see how Carlsen could have won the game with @ JPSJR suggested winning move 87...,h4!!! After this move black queens first with check and from this point is down hill for white as follows:

    88. d5, h3   89. d6, h2   90. d7, h1=Q+   91. Kb2, Qd5   and white resigns Smile

    This game lost by Carlsen truly captured my interest since I saw the live game at, I could not understand how Carlsen could have won the game by first simply moving 80...,Rb2! and then following with 81...,Kg2 and it is really amazing how playing first Kg2 and then Rb2 loses the game,  it is really amazing, that is why I love chess!!!

  • 4 év ezelőtt

    WIM energia

    @ ptrckmackay, I agree with  @ JPSJR that 87. h4! is very strong and leads to a creation of a new passed g-pawn. Certainly, this endgame is highly complex and to see all the nuances from far is impossible even for the best players in the world.

  • 4 év ezelőtt


    Maybe Carlsen made a few mistakes and that is why he lost in a winning position. Cry (since I am a fan of carlsen)

  • 4 év ezelőtt


    I would try  86.........Rd2+ since noting else sims to work; I'm shure that you see the idea.

  • 4 év ezelőtt


    It's really hard to play endgames especially with no matherial. It's impossible to mate, because one of the players would resign or draw.

  • 4 év ezelőtt



    I think after 87. Bb4 h4! is the correct continuation.

  • 4 év ezelőtt


    @ WIM energia

    Please show the complete analysis on how Carlsen could have won the game when playing the variation that you proposed starting with:

    79. Rxe4!? dxe4 80. f5 Rb2! 81. f6 Kg2 

    82. f7 Rb8 83. Be7 Kf2 84. f8=Q+Rxf8 

    85. Bxf8 e3+

    I believe the game could have continue 86. Kc1 e2 87. Bb4 and then please show how Carlsen could have won the game, it is not clear to me because it seems that Caruana will queen first and this might be enough to draw.

    The win for Carlsen in your proposed variation seems to take the game to over 110 moves and under such a rapid time control this game was played there was a high possibility that both sides could have blunder and lost or achieve the draw. Most probably there would have been a win on time.

    I found this endgame extremely interesting and complex and difficult to play under such rapid control time.

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