Endgame Maestro – The Chess Improver

Thanks to my Richmond clubmate Andrew Hebron for sending me a game he played last summer in the British Senior Online Championship, where he was up against GM Keith Arkell, rated more than 400 points above him.

Andrew played excellent, solid and sensible chess to reach a double rook ending, but Keith, of course, is famous throughout the chess world for his endgame skill.

Let’s see what happened.

We’ll pick up the game at the start of the ending. It looks like White can’t lose, but Keith will do everything in his power to make life difficult for his lower rated opponent.

27. Ke3 f5
28. g3 Kg7
29. Rf2 Rf7
30. A3 Rdf8
31. Rdf1 a5
32. a4 Rf6
33. Rf3 R8f7
34. R1f2 Kf8
35. Rd2 Ke7
36. Rdf2 Kd6
37. Ke2

Nothing untoward has happened so far. If you were Black in an over-the-board game against an evenly matched opponent you’d probably offer a draw here, and adjourn to the bar for a drink. In an online rapid game against a lower rated opponent, Keith decided to mix it. Brave or foolish?

38. gxf4 exf4
39. Kd3 Ke5

Threatening Rb6. White has just one winning move here, and Andrew found it.

40. Rg2! Re7
41. Rg5+ Kd6

Can you find White’s winning plan here?

He should play Rf1 or Rf2, with the idea of ​​doubling rooks on the g-file. As Rg7 won’t be possible because of e5+, White will win either the f-pawn or the g-pawn, and in either case would expect to score the full point.

As always play it out yourself against an engine, your chess teacher or a friend and make sure you can win it.

With not much time on the clock, Andrew, who is probably more of a tactician than an endgame expert, decided to repeat moves and share the point, more than happy to draw with his illustrious grandmaster opponent. Would you have played on against Keith in those circumstances?

42. Rg2 Re8
43. Rg5 Re5
44. Rg2 Re8
45. Rg5 Re7
46. ​​Rg2 Kd7
47. Rg5 Kd6

A great result for Andrew, but at the same time frustrating that he wasn’t able to find the winning plan at the end. Would you have done better?

Here’s the complete game.

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes. uk. View all posts by Richard James

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