Bishops-of-opposite color endgames might be the most difficult to win, but in the following game, a grandmaster overcomes the obstacles brilliantly.
Winning a bishops-of-opposite color endgame is extremely difficult. Doing it against a grandmaster is even more impressive. But that is just what Georg Meier of Germany does against Dorian Rogozenko of Romania in the following game.
Rogozenko, D. vs. Meier, Geo
Bundesliga 2016-17 |Hamburg GER |Round 10.1 |19 Mar 2017 |ECO: A40 |0-1
1. d4e62. c4b63. e4Bb74. Bd3Bb4+5. Kf1Be76. Nf3d67. Nc3Nd78. h3Bf69. Qc2Ne710. Be3c511. d5Ng612. Rd1Qe713. Be2O-O14. h4Nge515. g3Nxf316. Bxf3Rae817. Kg2Bxc318. Qxc3Ne519. Bf4Nxf320. Qxf3f521. Rhe1fxe422. Qxe4Qf723. Qd3exd524. cxd5Bxd5+25. f3Ba826. Qxd6h627. Rxe8Rxe828. Qd3Qxa229. Rd2Qf730. Re2Rxe2+31. Qxe2Bc632. Qe5Qb333. Qc3Qxc334. bxc3I hope readers will forgive me for ignoring everything up to this point, but it looked like a pretty straightforward middlegame where Meier outplayed a weaker opponent. But this endgame is far from clear, and fascinating to analyze. I really think Meier played extremely well. 34... a5!A good start. Black does not need to fear Bc7.
( 34... Kf7?35. c4!And Black now cannot avoid losing some material on the queenside. For example: 35... a536. Bc7a437. Bxb6a338. Bxc5a2And since the White pawn is no longer on c3: 39. Bd4Saves the day for White. )
( 34... a6?35. Bc7!b536. Bb6c437. g4In this variation, Black's queenside pawns are blockaded on the dark squares. White should not lose. )
( 35. Bc7a4!This is the point. White is not in time to take b6: 36. Bxb6a3And the pawn promotes. )
35... a436. Bc1Bb5!Another good move. Before doing anything else, Black prevents c4. 37. Ke3Kf738. Ke4Ke639. Ba3Bc6+40. Kd3An unfortunate move for White to have to make, but the pawn on f3 is far less important than not allowing the Black king to invade.
( 40. Ke3Kd5!41. Kd3Bb5+And once the Black king gets to c4, Black will have a decisive advantage. )
40... Bxf341. c4Black has made noticeable progress. He has won a pawn, consolidated his queenside, and has a good level of activity for his pieces. But how does he break through? The pawns are not going anywhere just yet and White has no targetable weaknesses. 41... h542. Bc1I was watching this game and I thought that White would be able to hold a draw. The kingside seems totally safe, and if White plays Kc3 and then shuffles Bc1-a3-c1 for the rest of the game, how can Black make progress? Meier answered my question. 42... Kd743. Bb2g644. Bc1Kc645. Kc3Be2!The start of the winning plan.
( 45... b546. cxb5+Kxb5This leads to the same kind of position as in the game, except that Black has a king instead of a pawn on b5. In fact, this is not as good as in the game. White can simply hold by playing Bc1-a3 as black has no way to get his queenside pawns moving. )
46. Bb2Bxc4!47. Kxc4b5+48. Kd3Kd5Three pawns for a bishop is nominal material equality, but in this position, the three pawns are all connected, passed, well organized and the Black king is active. It is a significant advantage. Nevertheless, Black still needs to play precisely to win. 49. Bg7b4!The only move that can lead to a win.
( 49... a350. Kc3b4+51. Kb3After Bf8, the pawns will be stopped. )
50. Bf8a3!Again, the only way to play for a win.
( 50... c4+51. Kc2And Black cannot stop a blockade on the dark squares. )
( 50... b351. Kc3 )
( 50... Kc651. Kc4 )
51. Kc2Kc452. Bg7Kb553. Kb3c4+54. Ka2Ka455. Bf6Meier's play has thus far been methodical and strong. It would be easy to get carried away and make a mistake, but he does not do that. 55... c3!
( 55... b3+This move looks very tempting, but in fact it would allow White to draw. After 56. Kb1!Black is unable to play c3, and his pawns are otherwise ineffective despite reaching the sixth rank. ...a2+57. Kb2Kb458. Bc3+With a blockade. )
56. Kb1Kb357. Be7Black has achieved just about everything he set out to achieve, but his pawns still cannot promote. 57... c2+58. Kc1Kc3!Another strong move. Black sets his sights on the kingside. 59. Bf6+Kd360. Be7a2!61. Bf6b3It looks like White has a permanent blockade on the dark squares, and indeed this would be a draw if not for the kingside pawns. But the White bishop is overworked and cannot defend both sides of the board. 62. Bg7Ke4!Before aiming for g3, black needs to play g5. 63. Kd2Kf5!
( 63... Kf364. Be5a1=Q?This would be too hasty. 65. Bxa1Kxg366. Bf6!With a draw. This is why Black has to play g5 before taking the pawn on g3. )
64. Bd4g5!65. hxg5Kxg566. Bc3Kg467. Be5Kf368. Kc1a1=Q+The final touch. White resigned instead of facing: 69. Bxa1Kxg3When the h-pawn will cost him his bishop and then the Black king can return to help the queenside pawns advance.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.
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