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Friday, September 10, 2010

Botched Ending

It’s pretty obvious in the position that I’m winning. I have an extra piece and ‘obviously’ Black can’t avoid the loss of his g-Pawn. So how did I almost lose?

When I first did an analysis with Fritz 12 it was handing out “??” like candy, but a more in depth analysis using Houdini gave a completely different evaluation. This gives credence to what I’ve said in the past about engine use in top level play. There is more to it than just letting the engine choose your move. I decided to look at the game using Houdini’s evaluations because as the originator says on his website, “The name Houdini was chosen because of the engine's positional style, its tenacity in difficult positions and its ability to defend stubbornly and escape with a draw – sometimes by the narrowest of margins. At the same time Houdini will deny its opponents the same escape routes when it has the better position.” Also in the few unscientific tests I’ve done, Houdini beats Fritz quite regularly.

I don’t pretend to be strong enough to be able to offer a definitive answer to this ending, so mostly present Houdini’s lines with only brief comments. But I still think the ending was quite instructive; certainly much more complicated than it looks.

My failure to win seems to be accounted for by the fact that I was looking for a way to capture the g-Pawn and thus allowed Black too much leeway. At some point I should have played my N to f5 with the idea of using the K to hold up his P and using the N to attack the Q-side P’s. I considered this (placing the N on f5) but never did. Why? I don’t know; it was such a logical square for the N.

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