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Hans Ree vs Lubomir Ftacnik
Kiev (1978), Kiev URS, rd 10, Jun-15
Gruenfeld Defense: Russian. Smyslov Variation (D99)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White wins because he can place a pawn on h5 in two moves by force with 57.g4 and the pawn on f6 is on the black king's way to h8:

A) 57... hxg4 58.h5

A.1) 58... f5 59.h6

A.1.a) 59... Kf6 60.e5+ and the black king can't stop both pawns, for example 60... Kg6 61.e6 Kxh6 62.e7 winning.

A.1.b) 59... f4+ 60.Kf2 g3+ 61.Kg2 Kf6 62.e5+, etc.

A.2) 58... g3 59.h6 g2 60.Kf2 + -.

B) 57... gxh4 58.gxh5

B.1) 58... h3 59.Kf2 (59.Kf3 f5 60.exf5 (60.h6 fxe4+) Kxf5) f5 60.h6 Kf6 61.e5+, etc.

B.2) 58... f5 59.h6

B.2.a) 59... Kf6 60.e5+, etc.

B.2.b) 59... f4+ 60.Kf3 Kf6 61.e5+, etc.

C) 57... f5 58.gxh5

C.1) 58... f4+ 59.Kf3

C.1.a) 59... b5 60.h6 Kf6 61.e5+, etc.

C.1.b) 59... Kf6 60.hxg5+ Kxg5 61.h6 Kxh6 62.Kxf4 + -.

C.1.c) 59... gxh4 60.h6 transposes to B.2.b.

C.2) 58... gxh4 60.h6 transposes to B.2.

D) 57... Ke6 58.gxh5

D.1) 58... Kf7 59.hxg5 fxg5 60.e5 Kg7 61.e6 Kf6 62.h6 + -.

D.2) 58... gxh5 59.Kf4 Kf7 60.Kg4 f5+ (60... Kg7 61.Kxh4 Kh6 62.Kg4 Kg7 63.Kf5) 61.Kxh4 fxe4 62.Kg4 Kf6 63.Kf4 e3 64.Kxe3 Kg5 65.Kd4 Kxh5 66.Kc4 Kg5 67.Kb5, etc.

Let's check.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: I dismissed 58... Ke6 because it didn't look very active. I forgot that intuition is not as useful in the endgame as raw calculation.
May-16-09  SearchOfTheTruth: I saw g4 quickly, but not all the line !
May-16-09  kmzr: i hate the endgame :o
May-16-09  remolino: I think anyone who spotted g4 for the right reasons has solved the puzzle today even if it did not calculate to the end, for the following reasons:

1. Any other moves loose quickly, so 57. g4 is only alternative

2. It is easy to tell what to move next after you can see what black responds. So if 58... Ke6 it becomes evident that the rest is forced. All other variants are also easy to spot after 57. g4.

3. You can spot quickly that the pawn on f6 blocks the black king from effectively chasing the white h pawn, then it is evident that white will have a decent advantage in any pawn race. After 57. g4, the game plays itself.

So, I will give my self the full point today, despite not analysing variations, as realized g4 is only move not only to win, but to avoid a loss, realized that a pawn race would be to my advantage given f6 pawn blocking black king's path, and all variations are quite easy to spot. This was just an easy Satruday, just like yesterday it was a difficult Friday.

Yuppiii, my first Saturday!!!

May-16-09  WhiteRook48: Hooray!!!!!! I got a Saturday puzzle right!!!
May-16-09  gofer: g4!

wins under all efforts by black...

either the next move for white will be gxh4 with white gxh5 providing a passed pawn or if hxg4 and then white h5 with a passed pawn on exactly the same square... ...the next part of the riddle is that the black pawn on f6 is stopping black's king from getting to the passed h pawn in time, where as white's king has complete freedom, so black has to play f5 and after that h6 forces Kf6 and finally e5+ wins as black's king cannot defend against two passed pawns when they are two ranks apart!

time to check...

May-16-09  gofer: Hmmmm... ...well really I was only half right... I think after the white king decides to go after the h pawn, then the black king has to go for the black g pawns... ...I probably would have got there over the board, but it would have been a fluke to get the check... maybe only half a point...


May-16-09  TCS: 57.g4 is a win for white.

The explanation is instructive and in three steps.

White can force the Black King to the side of the board, keep the White King centralised and when the dust settles on the king-side the black queen-side pawns are very weak.

57.g4 hxg4 58.h5 Ke6 59.Kf2 Kf7 60.Kg3 Kg7 61.Kxg4 Kh6 62.Kf5 Kxh5 63.Kxf6.

Look at the positions of the Kings and the dominance of the White King. The fact that the Black King had to work its way around f6 did not help.

Crucially in the resultant Queen race White is able to Queen with Check.

63...g4 64.e5 g3 65.e6 g2 66.e7 g1=Q 67.e8=Q+ Kh4 68.Qh8+ Kg3 69.Qg7+ Kf2 70.Qxg1+ Kxg1 71.Ke5 Kf2

Look at the positions of the Kings and the dominance of the White King. Now the White King can gorge on a Black Pawn buffet and marry a new Queen!

72.Kd5 Ke3 73.Kc6 Kd2 74.Kxb6 Kc2 75.Kb5 Kxb2 76.Kxa4 Kc3 77.Kb5

I didn't see all of this. I got to

57.g4 hxg4 58.h5 Ke6 59.Kf2 Kf7 60.Kg3 Kg7 61.Kxg4 Kh6 62.Kf5 Kxh5 63.Kxf6

and noted the position of the Kings and didn't think this was bad for White!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: It looks like this one is done in stages.

1:sac the g-pawn to create the passed h-pawn

2:sac the h-pawn to force the e-pawn home-even allowing black to queen first and force the exchange of the new queens.

3 move the king to the queen side and bring home the queen side pawns.

After all,a seed must die before a plant can be grown.

May-16-09  johnlspouge: Saturday (Very Difficult)

H Ree vs Ftacnik, 1978 (57.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Even. The squares f5 and f6 constitute a barrier reducing the mobility of the Black Ke5, suggesting the creation of a winning outside passed P for White.

Candidates (57.): g4

57.g4 (threatening 58.gxh5 59.h6, and if 57…hxg4, 58.h5 59.h6)

Thus, White can force the creation of an outside passed Ph5. I first saw this amazing tactic on move …26 of Bird vs Lasker, 1892.

(1) 57…hxg4 58.h5 (threatening 59.h6)

The queening square of Ph6 has the diagonally opposite corners f6 and h8. Because 58…g3 is no threat, it permits an immediate Ph6 and eventual coronation at h8. Thus, Black must keep his Ke4 within the queening square.

(1.1) 58…f5 59.h6

(1.1.1) 59…Kf6 60.exf5

As is well known, the White Pf5 and Ph6 are self-supporting against Kf6. In contrast, the Black Pg4 and Pg5 are at the mercy of Ke3, so Black loses.

(1.1.2) 59…f4+ 60.Kf2 Kf6 61.e5+ (threatening 62.e6)

The Black Kf6 cannot stay within the queening square of both Pe6 and Ph6.

(In the following, my notation emphasizes a count of 4 moves and hopefully is transparent.)

(1.2) 58…Ke5-e6-f7-g7-h6 59.Ke3-f2-g2-g3xg4

The tactics in Variation (1.1) prevent …f5, so Black cannot prevent the position occurring at the end of the 4-move sequence. The Black K must be at h6 after the White K arrives at g4, because otherwise [1] e5 fxe5 [else, exf6] [2] Kxg5 wins because of the outside passed P. Black can give up a tempo with


but White wins anyway with

63.Kf5 Kxh5 [Kh7 or Kg7 64.e5, winning with an outside passed Ph5 after Kxg5]


64…Pg5-g4-g3-g2-g1=Q 65.Pe4-e5-e6-e7-e8=Q+ 68…Kh5- moves

White wins, because: (1) e8=Q is a check, and (2) Kh5 is on the h-file several ranks removed from Qg1. The two conditions permit a skewer. If Kh5 moves onto the g-file, 69.Qg8+ skewers immediately, if Kh4 remains on the h-file, 69.Qh8+ 70.Qg8+ skewers one move later.

<[I missed that the K was close enough to protect the Q, as in the game variation.]>

(2) 57…gxh4 58.gxh5 (threatening 59.h6)

White wins easily, because: (1) his Ke3 can stop Ph5 if it advances; (2) Black cannot capture Pe4 with Kxe4 without permitting h8=Q (which is faster than f1=Q); and (3) Black cannot capture Pe4 with fxe4, because the sequence …[1] f5 [2] h6 etc. loses as in Variation (1.2) above, by creating a pair of passed Ps separated by 1 file, in a self-supporting configuration.

(3) 57…Ke6 59.gxh5 gxh4 [else, hxg5]

The win occurs as in Variation (2).

May-16-09  Eduardo Leon: The position looks difficult for white, since all the obvious moves lose:

a) 57. Kf3? Kd4
b) 57. Kd3? gxh4 58. gxh4 Kf4
c) 57. hxg5? fxg5 58. Kd3 h4

No doubt this was the main idea behind 56. ... g5. But black's conception is essentially flawed, a fact white is ready to prove.

The road to white victory consists of three phases. First, white uses the weakness of black's h pawn to pass his own h pawn.

57. g4! hxg4

Not 57. ... gxh4? 58. gxh5 Ke6 (57. ... h3 58. Kf3) 59. Kf4.

58. h5 Ke6

This long walk around the f6 pawn is the only way to stop the passed pawn. 58. ... f5? fails to 59. h6 Kf7 60. e5+! Kg6 61. e6.

It should also be noted that 58. ... g3 doesn't help either, since 59. Kf3 easily stops the pawn.

59. Kf2 Kf7 60. Kg3 Kg7 61. Kxg4

Phase 1 has been completed. However, the passed pawn has been stopped and white must find a way to make progress. Phase 2 begins.

61. ... Kh6 62. Kf5!

White suddenly abandons his h pawn, but he will create another passed pawn: the e pawn.

62. ... Kxh5 63. Kxf6 g4

Black's disgrace consist in the fact White promotes his pawn with check...

64. e5 g3 65. e6 g2 66. e7 g1=Q 67. e8=Q+

... forcing black's king to stay in the h file because 67. ... Kg4? loses the queen to 68. Qg8+.

67. ... Kh4

And now the third and final phase.

68. Qh8+

Black's king is far away from the remaining pawns, so white exchanges the queens and rushes to the queenside with his king.

68. ... Kg3 69. Qg8+ Kf2 70. Qxg1+ Kxg1 71. Ke5 Kf2 72. Kd5

Avoiding 72. Kd4? Ke2, which would have thrown all the previous effort to the dogs. Now, white has enough time to capture both black pawns and yet save one of his own pawns

72. ... Ke3 73. Kc6 Kd2 74. Kxb6 Kc2 75. Ka5

Slightly more accurate than 75. Kb5.

75. ... Kb3

Slightly more stubborn than 75. ... Kxb2.

76. Kb5 Kxb2 77. Kxa4 Kc3 78. Kb5

May-16-09  tivrfoa: wow. great end.
Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: <agb2002> wrote: I dismissed 58... Ke6 because it didn't look very active.

You and me both.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: An important side variation is

<58...f5> 59.h6! f4+ 60.Kf2 g3+ 61.Kf1 Kf6 62.e5+! Kg6 62.e6... 1-0

click for larger view

May-16-09  zzzzzzzzzzzz: Pretty good tactic there. Looks like suicide but actually wins.
May-16-09  lightbishop c5e6: 57. g4!! Actually found it but didn't check the whole line since, because of Black's f pawn, Black has a difficult time to reach the passer while White cleans up thanks to the divertion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Kasputin: I didn't really look at this long (and I don't usually do Sat. puzzles), but I think white should play:

57. g4

Black's king is cut-off to some degree from a white h-pawn heading toward the h8 queening square. f5 is guarded by a white pawn and f6 is blocked by a black pawn.

So if black plays 57 ...gxh4 then white replies 58. gxh5. If it were pawn moves only from then on, then black would queen first and win. But white can play the king over to f3 (or possibly f2) in one go and black needs an extra tempo to get at the white h-pawn.

On the other hand, if 57 ...hxg4 then white can play 58. h5. At that point, I am not sure if black should play the f-pawn to f5 or the king to e6. Either way, black has to spend some time going after the white h-pawn, whereas white can either advance that pawn or drop the king down to f2 and then go after the doubled black pawns on the g-file.

Far from solved, but I suspect this is the correct course.

May-16-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: It's late in the day (after 7 hours of table tennis and some rest), but I'd like to take a shot at this one, even if the most important points have been uncovered by early posters. In this king and pawn ending, with material even, the first question asked by many will be "Is white playing for a win or a draw?" This seems a valid question, considering that many K and P endings are decided by the side that has the outside passed pawn. Ftacnik may well have gone into this ending thinking that the pawn structure favored black's chances to get the outside passer first. Certainly a blunder such as 57.hxg5?? would hand the outside passed pawn - and the victory - to black.

In any king and pawn ending, examining the most forcing move first (as we often preach on this site) often means searching for a move that creates a passed pawn. The first move that occurred to me was:


This type of breakthrough has been seen in recent problems on this site, so it's really not hard to find. However, it does look counterintuitive in this position, because black seems to be a tempo ahead - until you observe that the presence of the f-pawn hampers the king's ability to stay "in the square" of white's more dangerous passed pawn. So let's look at the detail:

A. 57... gxh4 58.gxh5 h3 59.Kf3 f5 60.h6! fxe4+ 61.Kg3 Kf6 (d3 62.h7 d2 63.h8/Q+ wins) 62.Kxh3 Kg6 63.Kg3 Kxh6 64.Kf4 and it's clear that white wins the race to confiscate black's Q-side pawns.

A.1 58... f5 59.h6 f4+ (Kf6 60.exf5 is a quick win) 60.Kf3 Kf6 61.Kxf4 Kg6 62.Kg4 Kxh6 63.Kxh4 Kg6 64.Kg4 Kf6 65.Kf4 wins regardless of opposition, because the white king wins the Q-side pawns.

B. 58...hxg4 59.h5 f5 60.h6 f4+ (Kf6 61.exf5 Kf7 62.Kf2 Kg8 63.f6 wins) 61.Kf2 Kxe4 (...Kf6 62.e5+ Kg6 63.e6 and one of white's split pawns promotes) 62.h7 g3+ 63.Kg2 Ke3 64.h8/Q f3+ 65.Kxg3 f2 66.Qh1 winning.

B.1 59....Ke6 60.Kf2 Kf7 61.Kg3 Kg7 62.Kxg4 Kh6 63.Kf5! Kxh5 64.Kxf6 g4 65.e5 g3 66.e6 g2 67.e2 g1/Q 68.e8/Q+ Kh4 69.Qh8+ Kg3 70.Qg8+ Kf2 71.Qxg1+ Kxg1 72.Ke6 and white's king wins the race to capture the q-side pawns, and promotes the a-pawn.

The vagaries of the chessboard!

Time to check...

May-16-09  DarthStapler: I got the first two moves and the general idea
May-16-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: <butilikefur> wrote <... some of my 'analysis' looks like it was just copied and pasted from the game ending..>

The knowledgeable folks on this site understand that the line is forced, so if you find the key move and you want to post a complete solution, you should do exactly what you (and I) did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: With 57. g4!! White wins a difficult King and Pawn endgame and provides us with a solution to the Saturday, May 16, 2009 puzzle.
May-22-14  Mating Net: I love this game. It shows the power of the pawn breakthrough with 57. g4! as well as the endgame panacea of giving the first check after a pawn race.
Aug-05-16  Straclonoor: Actually when pawn ending appears in this game black have to win. There are two pretty same lines
Analysis by Stockfish 260415 64 POPCNT: (-48.23): 52...a4 53.e5 f6 54.exf6+ Kxf6 55.Kf3 Kf5 56.Ke3 Kg4 57.Kf2 g5 58.hxg5 Kxg5 59.Kf3 Kf5 60.Ke3 Kg4 61.Kf2 Kh3 62.Kf3 b5 63.Kf2 Kh2 64.Kf3 Kg1 65.Ke4 Kg2 66.g4 hxg4 67.Kd5 g3 68.Kc6 Kf3 69.Kxb5 g2 70.Kxa4 g1Q 71.b3 Kg4 72.Kb5 Qf1+ 73.Ka5 Qd3 74.Kb4 Kg3 75.a4 Qc2 76.a5 Qd2+ 77.Kb5 Qe2+ 78.Ka4 Qa2+ 79.Kb4 Kg4 (-9.41): 52...Kf6 53.a4 Ke5 54.Kf3 Kd4 55.Kf4 f6 56.Kf3 g5 57.b3 g4+ 58.Kf4 Kd3 59.Kf5 Ke3 60.Kg6 Kxe4 61.Kxh5 f5 62.Kg6 f4 63.h5 fxg3 64.h6 g2 65.h7 g1Q 66.h8Q g3 67.Qc8 Kd3 68.Qc4+ Kd2 69.b4 Qb1+ 70.Kg5 Qd3 71.Qc6 axb4 72.a5 bxa5 73.Kh4 b3 74.Qb7 Kc3 75.Kh3 b2 76.Qc7+ Kb4 77.Qb6+ Qb5 78.Qd6+ Kc4 79.Qf4+ Kb3 80.Qe3+ Ka2 81.Qd2 Qb4 82.Qd5+ Ka1 83.Qe5 a4 84.Kg2 a3 85.Kxg3 a2 86.Kf2
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Inside passed pawn wins here: after exchanges, the K guarding the outside passed P is further away from the action.
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