game after White's better defence 35. Rc1 Rb2 36. Rb1 Rxb1 37. Bxb1 Ke5
Here is a short analysis of this endgame. First, I'd like to make a few points of why Black is
much better here. Let's look at pawn structure first. Black's b-pawn is safer than White, even
if it's on the wrong colour, for now that is. The thing is that if White should ever need a tempo
move, he would be forced to push his pawn, thus weakening it even more. Then Black could
block it with his own pawn on b6 and attack it with his Bishop and/or his King. The K-side
pawn structure isn't much better for White. He has considerably less space and his pawns are
fixed on light squares, hampering his own Bishop and giving his opponent's King excellent entry
points on the dark squares. That's the main reason why it's indicated to place your pawns on
opposite coloured squares as your Bishop. Also, Black can start a pawn attack with e6 and f5,
which together with pressure from his Bishop will either force White to give way with his King
or give up the e-pawn and thus cramp his position even more. And finally the Bishops. White's
Bishop has no active role, other than making waiting moves and trying to prevent Black's
Bishop from gaining access to the weak g2 and h3 pawn.
Enough with the literature, let's get down to variations.
38. Bd3 Bd7 (starting the aforementioned plan of advancing the pawns and also preparing to
out-maneuver the opposing Bishop) 39. Be2 (it makes little difference on which square the
Bishop goes, since he's just stalling for time) e6 40. Bc4 f5 (the first part of the plan is
complete. Notice that moving the King earlier doesn't help since that only gives Black the f4
square and after that it's only one more step to g3) 41. exf5 (not exchanging makes things
easier for Black, since after f4+, the King can come to d4 and win easily by combining threats
against the g2 and the b4 pawn. For the sake of completion, here is a sample line 41. Ba2 Bb5
42. Bb3 f4+ 43. Kf2 Bd7 43. Ke2 Kd4 44. Kd2 e5 45. Bd5 b6 46. Ba2 Bb5 47. Be6 Bf1 48. Bc8
b5 49. Bd7 Kc4 50. Ke1 Bxg2 51. Kf2 Bxh3 52. Bxh3 Kxb4
easily winning for Black) exf5 and now
we have a very instructive endgame. White has a few ideas but none of them save him from
I'll post them tomorrow and give you some food for thought.
Unfortunately he has no real choice, so restricted are the king's and bishop's options. Retiring the bishop to b3 or a2 allowed the enemy bishop to occupy the critical diagonal vacated: 41...Bb5, with threats against the K-side (as shown in nyctalop's post). Nor does a retreat towards the K-side help: 41.Be2 f4+ and Black penetrates via d4.
That leaves 41.b5. Although it places White's last pawn upon a light square and therefore further restricts the bishop, the hope is to prevent a breakthrough. Black has to be flexible enough to realise that he should himself exchange on e4: 41.b4 fxe5! 42.fxe5 Kd6! Suddenly the White b-pawn is under threat. 43.Kd4!? e5+ 44.Kc3 Kc5 and the b-pawn falls, after which White can only hope to delay the inevitable.
Let's try and summarize the position a little bit. What has Black done from the initial diagram to
improve his position? He exchanged a pair of pawns and created a mobile pawn phalanx on the
K-side. He also improved the position of his Bishop. So what can White try to hold the
Let's start with a few candidate moves. First let's enumerate them. 42. Ke2, 42. f4, 42. Bf1
42. Bb3 (there are other Bishop moves but they don't differ much and I will just show what
happens in both cases where the Bishop chooses a diagonal) and 42. Kd3, which I believe is
the toughest nut to crack.
A. 42. Ke2 Kd4 43. Bd3 f4 44. Kd2 Be6 45. Bb5 Bc4 46. Bd7 Bf1 47. Be6 (White has covered
both c4 and h3, but he still can't defend his position) b6! (Zugzwang. Now White has to either
allow the King to come to c4 or the Bishop to capture on g2 and h3) 48. Bg4 (48. Ke1 loses to
Bc4 followed by Kc3, while 48. Bf7 loses to Bxg2 and Bxh3) Kc4 49. Ke1 Bd3 (even Bxg2 wins)
50. Kd2 Bg6 and the b-pawn will fall and with it the game.
B. 42. f4+ (a pawn sacrifice meant to disrupt Black's pawn structure) gxf4+ 43. Kf2 (43. Kf3
just gives Black a tempo to place the Bishop on c6 and follow with Kd4) b5 (this looks bad but
the pawn will be perfectly place to close in the White Bishop and fix the b4 pawn) 44. Be2 (44.
Bf1 isn't much different, Black answers with 44...Bc6 and breaks through with the King.) Be8
An interesting position has appeared on the board. Black has a very active King which White
will not be able to hold back much longer. I'll just give one line that I hope is convincing
enough. 45. Bd3 Kd4 46. Bxf5 Bc6 47. Bg4 Kc3 48. Bf3 Bxf3 49. Kxf3 Kxb4 50. Kxf4 Kc4 with a
C. 42. Bf1 (a passive line of defence) Bc6! (the best place to put the Bishop) 43. Bc4 (if 43.
Bd3, Black continues with f4+, Kd4 and slowly squeezing White out of squares) f4+ 44. Kd3 g4!
( tactical shot that wins quickly for Black) 45. fxg4 (45. Ke2 gxf3+ 46. gxf3 Bd7 and Bxh3; 45.
hxg4 Bxf3!) Bxg2 46. Ke2 Kf6! (the hasty 46...Bxh3 allows White to save himself after 47. Kf3!)
47. g5+ (otherwise White loses the h3 pawn as well) Kxg5 48. Be6 b6 49. Kf2 Kf6 50. Bg4 Bd5
51. Be2 Ke5 52. Bf1 (White can't activate any of his pieces and he just has to sit back and
watch Black win another pawn) Kd4 53. Be2 Be4 54. Bf1 Kc3 55. b5 Kd4 56. Be2 Bd3 57. Bg4
Bxb5 and with two pawns extra, even a C-class player should be able to win this endgame.
D. 42. Bb3 (White's idea is to cover c4 and prevent the Black King from reaching the b4 pawn)
Bb5 (but there is more than one tasty morsel on the board) 43. Bf7 f4+ and White must again
either allow the Black King to reach the b-pawn or the Black Bishop to munch the g-pawn. I
think the win is more than clear in any case by now.
E. 42. Kd3 (A tricky move that needs very accurate play to keep the win) Kf4 43. Ke2 Kg3 44.
Kf1. I think this position is worthy of another diagram since it's a good example of not rushing
in the endgame.
But what has White achieved with his strange King maneuver? The Black King seems to be
very active attacking g2 and keeping the White King pinned to the defence of the g2 pawn.
But there is another merit to the variation. The Black King has been lured to the K-side. The
Bishop cannot win the b-pawn. And Black cannot attack g2 one more time. In the previous
lines, Black always won by attacking the g2 pawn with his Bishop and the b-pawn with his
King. Trying to do it the other way round isn't so effective.
Here is a line that shows White's saving idea. 44...g4 45. hxg4 fxg4 46. Bd5! gxf3 47. Bxf3 h3
48. Kg1 h2+ 49. Kh1 b6 50. Be4 Bb5 51. Bd5 Bf1 52. Bf3 and Black can't make any progress.
The Black King is tied to defending the h2 pawn, g2 is overprotected and the b4 pawn is safe.
Despite the overwhelming position of the Black pieces, he can't win. Clearly, there needs to be
something else that keeps the edge for Black. 44...g4 was rushed. One of the basic rules of
the endgame is "do not rush". The last diagram proves that point. Don't ruin your position and
try to force a win. Instead, make your opponent sweat and force him to keep defending.
Psychologically it's harder to defend than to attack. That's why attacking is so successful in
chess. The same goes for the endgame but with a twist. Turn the screw slowly and try to
strangulate your opponent's position. That means that he shouldn't be allowed any form of
counterplay. Let's go back to the position after 44. Kf1. Another approach is needed. Let's
start by improving the position of our pieces to the maximum before starting active operations.
44...b6 (removing the pawn from a light square and clearing the long diagonal. White was
successful in his defence because he had the chance to play his Bishop on this diagonal and
secure his position) 45. Kg1 (not forced but we'll look at alternatives later) Bc6 46. b5 Bb7 47.
Be6 Kf4 48. Kf2 Ke5 49. Bc4 f4 and now the b-pawn is doomed. But White could have played
better, right? I mean Kg1 and b5 only worked in Black's favour. Let's see if other moves would
have helped. First let's try 45. Bd5 (seizing the long diagonal) Bb5+ 46. Kg1 (if Ke1, Black plays
coolly f4 before capturing on g2, not giving any chance of counterplay) Kf4 47. Kf2 Ke5 48.
Bb3 f4 49. Ke1 Kd4 50. Kd2 Bf1 51. Be6
I think we've had this position before but now I'm going to show you the most basic way to
win. 51...Bxg2 52. Ke2 b5! (a very important finesse, otherwise it's harder to capture the b-
pawn) 53. Kf2 Bxh3 (53...Bh1 is perhaps stronger but this is more instructive) 54. Bxh3 Kc4 55.
Ke2 Kxb4 56. Kd3 Ka3! (the b-pawn is only used as a decoy to gain time for the Black King to
reach the K-side and overpower the Bishop with the remaining pawns) 57. Kc2 (in case of 57.
Ke4, play could follow 57...b4 58. Kf5 b3 59. Kxg5 b2 60. Bf5 h3 and one of the pawn queens)
b4 58. Bf5 b3+ 59. Kb1 Kb4 60. Kb2 Kc4 61. Be6+ Kd4 62. Kxb3 Ke3 63. Bg4 (one last diagram
for better visual perception)
63...h3 64. Bxh3 Kxf3
65. Bd7 g4 66. Kc4 g3 67. Kd3 g2 68. Bc6+ Kf2 69. Bxg2 Kxg2 and Black wins with the last
Hope that was through enough and in case you find something wrong, please post here.
Otherwise, I hope you will have learned something from this endgame and that you gained a
few ratings points by reading this whole thing and it wasn't just a waste of your time.
Very persuasive analysis...