Ettalong Chess Club Ettalong Chess Club

All the games in .pgn format
All the games in .pgn format zipped

Critical Positions

Quite a lot of games come down to one or two 'critical' positions, those which playing one strategy or another can make the difference; between a win or loss; between an easier win or one in which much work and accuracy has to be done. The difference in 'mode' of play is much like that between middlegame and endgame, it is a transition phase, and the big trick is to recognise the critical position when it comes along; let alone what you should actually do.

Imagine the situation : you've just played a hard game, well the opening & middlegame anyway, and you see that you are a clear pawn up & in a commanding position; but suddenly you become nervous of handing the initiative back, no matter how briefly, the tension lessens and you think you can afford to play safe - wrong, this is no time to start playing in any lax manner - after all you got yourself in this position by playing the positions on their merits.

This is how I found myself in a social game one night, I had snuck away with the previous game in a tactical turn-around ... but in this game I actually played quite well - until the critical position that is.

Note that I was black and in the actual game ended up playing the drawing line (really - the drawing move!?), this is a time one should stand up; stretch your legs and clear your thinking ... if only I had recognised (which I vaguely did) the critical nature ...

The basic winning idea being to force the white king to block his own pawn. Of course the 'winning' and 'best lines assume white will charge forward to try to queen the pawn, any other plan allows black to come down and take his other pawns.

Flynn Versus Farrell Start position [Event "Social Game"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1998.08.13"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Flynn, Ron"]
[Black "Farrell, Keith"]
[Result "*"]
[Annotator "Keith"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/2k3p1/P3p2p/1p2P3/4K3/6P1/7P/8 w - - 0 36"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "1998.08.20"]
36. Kd4 Kb6 (36... b4 {I chickened out basically, I looked pretty seriously at the winning line; but just at the last minute I got nervous at 'letting' my opponent in and somehow convinced myself that 'dragging' his king away I gained time & could mop up his pawns} 37. Kc4 b3 38. Kxb3 Kb6 39. a7 Kxa7 40. Kb4 Kb6 41. Kc4) 37. a7 Kxa7 38. Kc5 Ka6 39. Kd6 b4 40. Kxe6 b3 41. Kf7 b2 42. e6 b1=Q 43. e7 Qf5+ (43... Qb7 44. Kf8 Qf3+ 45. Kxg7) 44. Kg8 Qe6+ 45. Kf8 Qf6+ 46. Ke8 Kb5 47. Kd7 Qc6+ 48. Kd8 Qd6+ 49. Ke8 49... Kc5 {Kc4 would not have been quicker & this also threatens mating with the Kng & Queen rather than mopping up the pawns; exchanging Queen for pawn & winning by queening } 50. Kf8 Qf6+ 51. Ke8 Kd5 52. Kd7 Qd6+ 53. Ke8 Ke4 (53... Ke6 54. Kf8 Qxe7+ 55. Kg8 Kf6 56. Kh8 g6 57. h3 Qg7#) 54. Kf8 Qf6+ 55. Ke8 Kf3 56. Kd7 Qf7 57. Kd8 Kg2 58. e8=Q Qxe8+ 59. Kxe8 Kxh2 60. Kf8 g5 61. Kg7 Kxg3 62. Kxh6 62... g4 { and wins} *

Last Updated 30 June 2004
© copyright 1998; 2004 Keith Farrell
any comments or additions : Keith