Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Why Do In One Move What You Can Do In Ten?

#15  Najdorf-Averbakh  (click here to view on

The title line is a paraphrase from Silman's Complete Endgame Course, the idea being that when you have a lasting positional advantage in the endgame, slow maneuvering can be at least as effective as going for the quick kill - sometimes your opponent will crack under the pressure.  Or, as in this case, you're just savoring the experience.

Here White has committed the positional 'sin' of allowing doubled c-pawns in the Queen's Indian.  This disadvantage is offset to some extent by his strong center and open lines.  The real mistake, as Bronstein points out, is allowing his queen to become the primary defender of the c4-pawn...

10. Ne5   Na5
11. Bxb7  Nxb7
12. Qa4   d6
13. Nd3  Na5
14. c5 ?   Qe8    (14. e4 looks more reasonable.  Averbakh steers toward an endgame...)

Bronstein: ...Here, by moves 12-15 [Averbakh] had already visualized the coming knight vs bishop endgame, and did everything possible thereafter to assure his knight of the best working conditions for its struggle against the bishop. We know the knight is strong: a) when the pawns are fixed, b) when it has points of support, and c) when the enemy pawns are on squares of the same color as his bishop.

15. Qxe8 Rfxe8
16. Rb1  Rec8
17. h4    d5
18. Bf4  f6
19. Nb4  a6
20. cxb6  cxb6
21. Bd2   

Black has crafted the sort of position that any endgame enthusiast would be willing to kill for.  Bronstein's comments here are as instructive as any in the entire book:

Bronstein: White has an unenviable position - but why?
1) Above all, because his a2- and c3-pawns are clearly weaker than their opposite numbers at a6 and b6; the c-pawn especially needs constant defense;
2) White's position contains a gaping hole at c4, which Black will find perfectly fitted to his knight, and perhaps to his rook as well.
3) the darksquare bishop is passively placed - compare it to Black's!
...of course, Black cannot hold onto all the advantages his position contains, but he doesn't need them all in order to win.  Shortly White eliminates his weakness at c3, but only by entering precisely the sort of endgame Averbakh has been striving for.

21. .....  Nc4
22. Be1   Bxb4!   (Getting rid of White's better piece, and while alleviating the c3 weakness, allowing a direct path into the white position via the c-file)
23. cxb4 Na3!   (maneuvering to allow Black's rooks into the White camp)
24. Rb3  Nb5  
25. e3    Rc2  
26. a4    Nd6
27. a5     b5
28. Rc3   Rc8
29. Rxc8+ Nxc8     (It already feels like White can resign, but Black takes his time and doesn't let any opportunity slip)
30. f3     Ne7  (Black could have saved two tempi by going straight to d6 instead, but what's the rush?  He may have toyed with the idea of Nc6 to pressure the b- and d-pawns)
31. Bf2   Kf7
32. Rb1  Nf5
33. Kf1   Nd6   (there at last)
34. Rb3  Nc4    (now and only now his rook is free to roam and pick up pawns where possible - notice that Black never gave up the c-file to go pawn hunting and give his opponent counterplay)
35. Kg2   f5
36. Rb1  Nxe3+
37. Kg1  f4
38. gxf4  Nf5
39. Kf1    g6
40. Rb3  Ke7
41. Rb1   Kd7

More pawns were soon to drop.  Najdorf did not enjoy his stay in Averbakh's sweatbox.


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