Pawn Chain Configurations: Pawn islands 2

Pawn2-01Today, we continue the topic of pawn islands using examples of one simple and one difficult ending. It is often fair to state: “the ending is drawish, but the chances are not equal.”  In other words, the struggle is for two results only, and the weakest party still has to work hard for a draw.

In my duel against well-known Russian grandmaster (a “terror” of the Apennine Peninsula) we can observe a transformation of advantage.   The number of islands is balanced, but White obtains an outside passed pawn.

Kasparov, S (2481) – Naumkin (2495)
Cutro (3), 26.04.2008

It looks like an approximate equality. One of the drawbacks of Black’s position is the е6-pawn. Is it possible to derive real benefit from it?

Pawn2-0227. Bf4 Bc7

28. Rxd8+ Bxd8

29. Kf1 Nd5

30. Be5 Kf7

31. Ke2 I hope, you know one of the ending key-rules. You should join the king into play. The difference in the activity of kings usually influences the game’s outcome considerably. Nb4

32. a3 Nc6

33. Bc3 Bb6

34. Nd2 [The computer recommends 34.Ne5 + Nxe5 35.Bxe5 optimistically putting +/=. But we understand that White has no chances of victory. Black pawns are placed on g6, h5 and, together with the bishop that covers cover black points, they create an impassable wall for the enemy king. The black monarch will also assist in defense.]

34…e5 [34…Nd4+ 35.Kd3]

35. Nc4 Bc7

36. Kd3 Ke6

37. Ke4 g6 [37…b5]

38. a4 b5

39. axb5 axb5

40. Ne3 Bb6

41. Nd5 Bxf2 The Russian grandmaster is compelled to exchange the b5-pawn- for its opponent f2. [weaker41…Bd8 42.f4 exf4 43.Nxf4+ Kf7 44.Kd5 Na7 (44…Ne7+ 45.Kc5±) 45.Bd4± (Do you remember, I spoke about difference in activity of kings?)]

42. Nc7+ Kd6

43. Nxb5+ Kc5

44. Nc7 Kd6

45. Nd5 Bd4

46. Bxd4 Nxd4 The outside passed b-pawn provides White with the advantage [46…exd4 47.Nf4 g5 48.Nd3±]

47. Nf4 Promising idea, but it does not give material benefits. However, the knight is transferred to d3, where it supports the passed pawn movement. g5 [47…exf4 48.Kxd4 g5 49.Ke4 Ke6 50.b4+-]

48. Nd3 Nc6

49. g4 Ke6

Pawn2-0350. b4 Ne7

51. Nxe5 Nd5

52. Nd3 [52.b5 Nc3+] Nf6+

53. Kd4 h5

54. Nc5+ Kf7

55. Ne4 hxg4

56. Nxf6 gxh3

57. Ng4 Ke6

58. b5 Kf5

59. Nf2 g4

60. b6 h2

61. b7 [or 61.Nh1 g3 62.Nxg3+ Kf4 63.Nh1 Kf3 64.b7 Kg2 65.b8Q Kxh1 66.Ke3 Kg2 67.Qg8+ Kh1 68.Qa2 Kg1 69.Qf2+ Kh1 70.Qf1#] g3

62. b8Q gxf2

63. Qb1+ 1–0

In the following example, double pawns (and they are isolated as well) cause discomfort for Black. Events were developing “closer to a draw,” however, an error on the 23rd move entailed catastrophic consequences.

Actually, Black had four islands against two of his adversary’s. The Romanian chess player tried to “stick together” his weaknesses by Be6-d5, but the problems didn’t vanish.

Kasparov, S (2458) – Doncea (2444)
Tuluza (9), 02.03.2008

Pawn2-04Black has chronic weaknesses in the form of the splintered с6-and с4-pawns. But the presence of two bishops offers certain compensation.


19. Rb1 Be7

20. Rb7 Ba3

21. Rxa7 One of the weaknesses is destroyed. [21.Rfb1 a5 22.Nb6? Bxg2 23.Kxg2 c3=/+] Ra8

22. Rxa8 Rxa8

23. Nb6 Rb8? [Most persistent 23… Rd8! Approximate variants include: 24.Re1 (24.Nxd5 cxd5 25.Re1 f5 with compensation; 24.e4 c3! 25.exd5 cxd5 26.Nxd5 c2 with counterplay) 24…c3 25.Bxd5 c2 26.Nc4 c1Q 27.Rxc1 Bxc1 28.Bxc6±]

24. Nxd5 [24.Bxd5 cxd5 25.Nxd5 Rc8 26.Rc1?? (26.Nc3 Bb2 with compensation) 26…Bxc1 27.Ne7+ Kf8 28.Nxc8 c3–+] cxd5

25. Bxd5 c3

26. Be4 [but not 26.Bb3 Rxb3 27.axb3 c2] Rc8 [26…Rb2 27.Rc1 Rxf2 (27…Bb4 28.Rb1+-) 28.Rxc3+- Rxa2 29.Bd5 Ra1+ 30.Kf2+- weakness on f7]

27. Bc2 Kf8

28. Kg2 Ke7

29. Kf3 Kd6

30. Ke4 g6

31. Kd3 1–0


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