Simplify, simplify, simplify

The following position occurred in one of my games during Queen City Open (QCO) Sunday Swiss at the end of February. Although I went on to win this game, it still served as another reminder to simplify into a clearly won endgame when possible. Apparently, the lesson bears repeating.

Black To Move

Here, rather than the easy …Qxg6+ trading into a same-color bishop ending two passed pawns up, I played 1…Qxd1+ 2.Kb2 Qe2+ 3.Ka3 Qf3

The point, protecting the f7 pawn against mate in 2 and threatening one of my own on the next move with …Qxc3 mate.

I’d calculated much of what transpired with White’s attempt at perpetual check via underpromotion, but there’s no doubt it was risky and the simple queen trade would have kept things smooth sailing. That said, the variations are beautiful, with both sides ensnared by mating nets. Enjoy the craziness:

4.Qh7+ Kf8 5.g7+ Ke7 6.Qh4+

Here, it is better to leave the queen on h7, covering critical square along the diagonal, namely, c2 and b1. Nevertheless, some fancy maneuvering brings home the point for Black with 6.Kb3 (sidestepping immediate mate) a4+ 7.Kb4 Qf2 (threatening mate on both c5 and a fatal incursion on b2) 8.Ka3 Qe1 (again attacking the c3 pawn) 9.Kb4 Qg1 (repeating the mate threat at c5, but this time from the back rank) 10.Ka3 Qc1+ (the difference) 11.Kb4 Qb2+ 12.Ka5 Qb6 mate.

There’s also a drawing try similar to the game with 9.g8/N+ (instead of 9.Kb4) Kf8 10.Qh6+ Kxg8 11.Qg5+ Kf8 12.Qh6+ Ke8! (forced, as 12…Ke7 allows the sought after perpetual 13.Qg5+ Ke8 14.Qg8+ Ke7 15.Qg5+ f6 16.Qg7+ Kd8 17.Qxf6+ etc.) 13.Qh8+ Ke7 and White has run out of checks, as the h4 square is guarded, and faces a mate on c3 or the …Qc1+ continuation we saw earlier.

6…f6 7.g8/N+ (accompanied by a draw offer)

7.Kb3 scared me during the game since I had yet to find the mating line and thought I’d be forced to give a perpetual of my own as 7…Qg4 meets with 8.Qh8 when 8…Kf7 loses to 9.Qf8+ etc., and the mating attack starting with 8…Ba4+ isn’t fast enough after 9.Ka3! (not 9.Kxa4?? Qxc4+ 10.Ka3 Qxc3+ 11.Ka4 Qb4 mate) Qxc4 10.Qf8+ Kd7 11.Qf7+ Kd8 12.g8/Q+ Be8 13.Q(either)xe8 mate. Lastly, 8…a4+ also fails to 9.Ka3 Qxc4 10.Qf8 mate.

Thankfully, it’s there. I like to think I would have found it. 8…Qd1+ 9.Kb2 Qd2+ 10.Kb3 (or 10.Kb1 Bf5+ 11.Qe4 Bxe4+ 12.Ka1 Qxc3 mate) a4+ 11.Kb4 Qb2 12.Ka5 Qxc3 mate. Pretty stuff! :)

The actual game continued 7…Kf7 8.Qh7+ Kf8 9.Qh6+ Kxg8 10.Qg6+ Kf8 11.Qh6+ Ke7 12.Qg7+ Kd8 13.Qg8+ Be8 and with the checks stopped, the rest was “a matter of technique.”

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