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Jaroslav Sajtar vs Alexander Kotov
Moscow-Prague (1946), Moscow URS, rd 3, May-??
Catalan Opening: Open Defense. Classical Line (E05)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-29-07  wolfmaster: This game was played before Sajtar reached prominence and an IM or a GM, thoughtose titles were not aroung in 1946.
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  whiteshark: 50.e3 seems to hold the balance...

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  beatgiant: <whiteshark>
<50. e3 seems to hold>

It doesn't seem that way to me. What about 50...Kf3 and going after the h-pawn?

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  whiteshark: <beatgiant> right you are with doubting. It should be my turn to verify...:D
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  whiteshark: <beatgiant> top principle for rook endgames is rook activity at all cost!

Here it doesn't work as ♖b1 it bound to blockade ♙b2...

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  whiteshark: <beatgiant> next: counter play or counter threats

After <50.e3 Kf3 51.f5 Kxf2 52.e4>

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the idea is to create a passed pawn (e or f) so that ♖b8 have to give up ♙b2 protection...

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  beatgiant: <whiteshark>
Good point, it is a more close-run race than I thought. However, it still seems to me Black should win with careful play, as is to be expected with his much more active king and rook.

For example, 50. e3 Kf3 51. f5 <h5> (more efficient use of time than <Kxf2>) 52. Kd3 h4 53. e4 h3 54. e5 Kg2 55. e6 fxe6 56. fxe6 Kxh2 57. e7 Kg2 58. e8=Q Rxe8 59. Rxb2 Kf3 looks to me like Black is winning (I don't have access to a 6-piece tablebase to confirm that).

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  Pawn and Two: <whiteshark & beatgiant> Interestingly, Kotov considered the position to be won for Black after 42...b4.

In "Grandmaster at Work", Kotov stated, <...the presence of a strong passed pawn on b4 gives Black a decisive advantage.>

After 49...Ke4, Kotov stated, <Here is where the problem is solved. The pawn ending, despite the extra pawn, is lost for White.>

However, after 50.e3!, as noted by <whiteshark>, it appears White can hold the position.

Fritz provides the following analysis: (-.66) (24 ply) 50.e3! Kf3 51.f5 Kxf2 52.e4 Rb5 53.Kd3 Kf3 54.e5 Rxe5 55.Rxb2, (-1.02) (26 ply) 55...Rxf5 56.Kd2 h5 57.Ke1 Kg4 58.Ke2 h4, (-1.02) (30 ply) 59.Rb3 Re5+ 60.Kf2 f5 61.Ra3 Re4 62.h3+, or (-1.02) (30 ply) 59.Rb4+ Rf4 60.Rb3 f5 61.h3+, and Black appears unable to make any further progress.

After 50.e3! Kf3 51.f5, <beatgiant> suggested the move 51...h5. This move, however, leads only to equality: (-.08) (27 ply) 51...h5 52.Kc2, (-.02) (27 ply) 52...Kxf2 53.e4 Kf3 54.e5 Ke4 55.e6 f6 56.Rf1.

In this line, instead of 55...f6, Black could also try 55...fxe6, 55...Kxf5, 55...Rf8, 55...Rh8, 55...Rd8, 55...Re8, 55...Rc8+, 55...Ke5, 55...Ra8, 55...Rg8, 55...h4, or 55...Kf4, but all of these moves give only an equal position: (.00) (22 ply).

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  beatgiant: <Pawn and Two>
After 50. e3 Kf3 51. f5 h5 52. Kc2, my thought was 52...h4 but I overlooked that then 53. Rxb2! is safe as both sides queen in the ensuing pawn ending.

However, I have to agree with Kotov's overall assessment. If indeed 50. e3 holds as your engines are showing, Black probably missed a win earlier.

For example, maybe 42...d3 is a better way to give up the d-pawn, leaving White with a shattered kingside.

A quick glance gives a line like 42...d3 43. exd3 b4 44. Rb3 Rb8 45. Kf1 Ke7 46. Ke2 Kd6 47. d4 Kd5 48. Kd3 f5 49. f3 Rb7, and it seems like White will soon have to give way. In this kind of position, I don't think White can afford to go into any pawn ending.

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  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant> In your variation 42...d3 43.exd3 b4 44.Rb3 Rb8 45.Kf1 Ke7 46.Ke2 Kd6, Fritz indicates the position is equal, (.00) (24 ply), 47.Rb1 Kc5 48.Kd2 Kd4 49.Re1 b3 50.Re4+ Kd5 51.Kc1 b2+ 52.Kb1.

Even in the continuation you provided, 47.d4 Kd5 48.Kd3 f5 49.f3 Rb7, White can hold the draw: (-.19) (30 ply) 50.Rb1 b3 51.Rb2 Rb8 52.Kc3 Rb6 53.Kd3 Rb4 54.Kc3 Rb8 55.Kd3 Rb6.

Fritz indicates Black had a better winning try with: (-1.39) (23 ply) 38...bxa4 39.Rb4 Rc8 40.Rxa4 a5 41.Kg2 Ke7. Additional analysis is needed to determine Black's winning chances in this position.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Pawn and Two>
<Even in the continuation you provided...White can hold the draw>

It's a good lesson from Fritz.

After 42...d3 43. exd3 b4 44. Rb3 Rb8 45. Kf1 Ke7 46. Ke2 Kd6 47. d4 Kd5 48. Kd3 f5 49. f3 Rb7 50. Rb1 b3 51. Rb2

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I had originally thought 51...Rb4 here would be strong. If White trades the d-pawn for the b-pawn, it looks like his king gets offside and Black can pluck pawns on the kingside. But actually White's king can return in time.

It might go 51...Rb4 52. Kc3 Rxd4 53. Rxb3 Rxf4 54. Kd2 Rh4 55. Ke3 f4+ 56. Kd3 Rh3 57. Rb5+ Kc6 58. Rf5 Rxf3 59. Ke4, and it soon peters out to a dead draw.

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