Year Book 2019-20 Contents
Thing of the Day
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Unexpectedly Drawn Endings
The ending K+B+N v K is notoriously difficult to win if one has not buckled down and learn the correct process. Most other endings apart from elementary mates, have twists and turns which most of “club players” are unaware of, so that they agree draws in position which are technically “won”, or lose positions which are technically drawable, and, of course, there are those games which are won because one player is significantly stronger than the opponent, so that “theory” has limited practical relevance.
Like K+B+N v K, the ending K+Q v K+R, which can be won by force by the side with the queen in the general case, is tricky in practice, and there are drawable positions. The following is a study by Domenico Lorenzo Ponziani (1719-1796), dating back to 1782. Black quite easily forces a draw by repetitious checks or by stalemate.
As long as the white king stays within the green-edged squares, Black checks with his rook from f7, g7 or h7 as appropriate. If the white king foolishly wanders onto a pink-edged square (the e-file) then onlookers gasp and wince, while Black smugly plays … Re7, so eliminating the queen. The fun starts if the white king makes a move onto one of the yellow-edged squares, which move will always have been preceded by a rook check.
After 1. … Rg7+ 2. Kh6, Black replies 2. … Rh7+! because 3. Kxh7 is stalemate, and if 3. Kg6 then 3. … Rh6+! which results in stalemate or capture of the queen.
After 1. … Rg7+ 2. Kf6, Black replies 2. … Rg6+! which again results in stalemate or capture of the queen.
After 1. … Rf7/h7+ 2. Kg6, Black replies 2. … Rg7+, then 3. Kh6 Rh7+ as above, or 3. Kf6 Rg6+! as above.
If, after venturing onto a yellow-edged square, White retreats to a green-edged or pink-edged square, then Black replies as initially stated for such cases.
Statistically, the above positon is unlikely to arise in practice, and very specific features come together to allow a draw. The same applies to the following position in which Black is on the brink of queening a pawn with disastrous results for White, but which White can quite easily draw, by chasing the teddy bear round the garden, so to speak.
Alfred Crosskill of Beverley
When the “50-move Rule” was originally introduced in 1864, it posed the question, “Are there positions from which a win can be forced but which require more than 50 moves to achieve this?” Alfred Crosskill of Beverley, at one time the strongest member of Hull Chess Club, published analysis of a K+R+B v K+R ending, claiming it could be won, but required 64 moves to achieve this. Whilst in the general case, K+R+B v K+R endings are drawn, some where the K+R are badly placed can lead to forced wins for K+R+B. It appears computer analysis has since shown that such wins in this ending require at most 59 moves with perfect play. This is Alfred Crosskill’s starting position.
White to move and mate in 64 moves.
Can you improve on Alfred’s 64-move win? (No, I thought not!)
At one time Beverley was disenfranchised in the sense it was denied representation in parliament due to its history of electoral bribery and corruption. During inquiries various citizens admitted to accepting bribes, and Alfred Crosskill was one of them! The inquiries were not aimed at punishing those who accepted bribes, rather to bring to justice those offering the bribes. The Beverley MP under investigation after the 1868 election was conservative Sir Henry Edwards, who lived in Halifax. In connection with his personal business affairs he employed William Cronhelm, and later son Frederick William Cronhelm. In the event, the MP was able to claim innocence of any wrong-doing, landing the blame on his local representative in Beverley. Had things gone against Sir Henry Edwards, then Frederick William Cronhelm might have been implicated, and chess in Halifax might have been adversely affected as Sir Henry Edwards and Frederick William Cronhelm languished in the Tower of London.
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