OH, what a tangled web he weaved against his opponent
today at Dos Hermanas. In
round two, Sergey Karjakin grounded out an 84-move endgame win against GM
Felgaer. Sergey is a tough endgame player.
At Dortmund 2004, he showed his great skills by defeating the
14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik at blitz. It was a
difficult bishop of opposite color endgame. Karjakin became the youngest
player to defeat a sitting world champion at a blitz game.
In a classical match at the same tournament, he again had Kramnik
on the ropes in a queen vs. rook and minor piece endgame. If it weren’t
for Kramnik’s great defensive ability, Karjakin would have taken home
the full point.
In 2004, Sergey also took a full point from Deep Junior in the Man vs.
Machine match in Spain. He was the only human to take a full point from
the silicon monsters. In Mexico, Sergey had a tough time with Hikaru
Nakamura, the H-bomb. Nakamura dominated the match with 4 wins, one loss,
and one draw. But who
hasn’t had trouble with the H-Bomb.
But today it was the K-bomb, Sergey Karjakin that would
cause trouble. In today’s game, the players debated the Sicilian
Sveshnikov variation. With white, Sergey took advantage of
black's weakened king position.
In the Sveshnikov, black
gets a strong pawn center and a strong bishop on the a1-h8 diagonal,
however his king cover is corrupt. Sergey took advantage of this corrupt
king cover and by move 35
Sergey was a pawn up. The queens soon left the board. The game evolved
into a rook and bishop of opposite color endgame. Sergey did a great job
against Kramnik in such an endgame back at Dortmund.
The battle became Sergey’s rook, king-bishop, and
two connected f and g-pawns versus Felgaer’ rook, king-bishop, and h
pawn. Often in chess, one pawn is not enough to win at the GM level.
Sergey kept the pressure on his opponent. He had the following advantages:
an extra pawn, superior
king position, a well posted rook and bishop, and lastly his opponent was
under time pressure. Sergey used all of these advantages and slowly but
surely turned the vice tighter and tighter around his opponent.
In order to win this type of endgame, you must
get your king into the battle. With military operation, an important
defensive strategy is to prevent reinforcements from coming into a theater
of battle. You do this by blowing up bridges and roads. Sergey Karjakin
knows this strategy well. With the just two minor pieces on the board, the
King must lead his troops into battle. Felgaer tried to cut Karjakin’s king off from the field of
battle, however Sergey used his bishop to shield his king and allow it to
get to the theater of battle. Karjakin’s king, rook and bishop slowly
encroached upon Felgaer king, who was cowering in his h8-bunker.
Felgaer took a bold step and decided to take the game
to a drawish rook and bishop vs. rook endgame.
He did so by sacrificing his bishop with 76... Bxf6. Karjakin then
snapped up the bishop with 77 Rxf6. Felgaer snapped up the last of his
opponent’s pawns with 77… Rxg4. Karjakin
again used his bishop to shield his king from attack, this allowed his
King to get dangerously close to his opponent's king.
All of Karjakin’s pieces were perfectly posted. The
mating web was woven with move 85 Kf6.
Karjakin's king had the critical f6 square, his rook was on a7 and
his bishop was on e6 providing cover for his king. Felgaer’s only
defender, his b6-rook was over worked. He played one more move 84… Rb1,
however it was too little too late. Karjakin
had a forced mating sequence with 85 Ra8+ Kh7, 86 Bf5+ Kh6,
87 Rh8 mate.
The moral of this war-story was about getting troops to a critical
theater of battle. Felgaer was unable to prevent Sergey’s reinforcements
from getting to the battlefront. Felgaer was seriously outnumbered and
outplayed. It was nice to see a good, grinding, instructional endgame victory by a top GM.
The finish was especially great because the game ended in a
position that even Hangin could find the win.