Chess Mentor Course

My first chess mentor course for www.chess.com was published on 1 July. The theme was bishop stronger than a knight in the endgame. I received many positive feed backs, but I especially appreciated this one:
“Dear Mr. Bojkov,
My name is Sam Shankland, I'm an IM from the US rated over 2500 FIDE, and I'm also a chess.com employee. I'd just like to say your Bishop vs Knight chess mentor course is extremely good- bishop vs knight endgames have always been a weak point in my game, and I actually learned something from a course with an average rating of about 1800. I'm sure you get messages like these all the time (I definitely do), but perhaps they don't always come from near- GMs.... In any case, great job and thanks a lot!”

Dear Sam, thank you too, and good luck at the youth USA championship! I hope that you can apply some of the learned ideas. Here is a sample from the course:

Rej,T (2348) - Castor,D (2131) [A57]
Sydney Int Open Parramatta AUS (6), 09.04.2010
[Dejan Bojkov]

An ouside passed pawn is a great advantage in all endgames. A bishop is extremely happy to have such support. 25.Ke2! First White brings his king into the play. 25...Ke6 Unfortunately for Black he cannot exchange the knight for the bishop as the resulting pawn endgame is lost due to the possibility for White to create an outside passed pawn: [25...Nxe3 26.Kxe3 Ke6 27.Kd4 The most precise method is-first maximally activate the king. 27...a5 28.b3 d5 29.a3 Kd6

Now the plan is to create the b passer, deflect the opponent's king and win in return the d5 pawn, and all the others on the king's flank. And the best technique to do that is first to improve your own pawns on the kings flank with: 30.g4 then h2-h4, f2-f4, and finally b3-b4, etc.] In the game he will win in similar way but with the minor pieces still on the board. 26.Kd3! Kd7 27.Kc4! Kc6 28.b4 When all the white pieces are on their perfect places White creates an outside passed pawn. 28...Nc7 29.a4

29...d5+ Black is practically in zugzwang, and he will have to do this move sooner or later. 30.Kd3 Ne6 31.g3! Nc7 32.h4! Gaining space on the king's flank and placing the pawns on defended squares. [32.Bc5 Ne6] 32...Ne8?! This move eases White's task, as the knight now will be dominated. More stubborn was: [32...Ne6 although this should also be won for White after: 33.g4 Expanding on the king's flank- this will give two extra trumps for White- control over the e6 square, and possibility for combined play on both flanks. 33...Nd8 (33...g6 is probably best 34.Bd4 f5 35.gxf5 gxf5 36.Ke3 but Black will soon in zugzwang) 34.f4 Nb7 35.f5 Nd6 36.h5 Nc4 (36...Nf7 37.Bf4 h6 38.Kd4+-

and b4-b5 is coming will be similar as in the game) 37.Bd4 h6 38.Bc5 Ne5+ 39.Kd4 Nxg4 40.Bf8 Nf2 41.Bxg7 Ne4 42.Ke3 Ng3 43.Bxf6 Nxf5+ 44.Kf4 Nd6 45.Bg7 Nf7 46.Kf5 and White wins.] 33.Bf4! Restricting the knight immediately when the moment occurs. Black is lost. 33...g6 34.Kd4! The king is maximally activated. White is ready for the decisive operation. 34...Ng7 35.b5+! Finally deflecting the opponent's king and going for the pawns on the king's flank. 35...axb5 36.axb5+ Kxb5 37.Kxd5 f5 38.Be5!

And the opponent's knight will be shut either on h5 or e8 squares. 38...Nh5 39.f3 f4 40.Bxf4 Ng7 [40...Nxf4+ 41.gxf4 Kb6 42.Ke6 Kc6 43.f5 is an easy win as well.] 41.g4 h5 42.Be5 Ne8 43.gxh5 gxh5 44.f4 1–0


Jermuk- Final Impressions

Jermuk is probably the most famous mountain resort in Armenia. The country that is mainly associated with the Ararat Mountains (which are already part of Turkey) is proud to have such a wonderful place. It also becomes one of the hottest spots on the chess map of the world after the second Grand Prix tournament, this time for females.
There are many things that make the place special-the extremely fresh air, wonderful mineral water springs, the beauties of the mountains, the view of Jermuk from above, the lake and the local waterfall. Those were things that the players enjoyed mostly during their free day. Another important thing is the experience that the Armenians have after the Men Grand Prix, the incredible chess tradition for such a small country, their hospitality, and the will to do things the right way. The chief organizer and right hand of the president of Armenia GM Smbat Lputian is the best sample of that. He is not only an experienced and famous GM, he is inside the game from very long time, and knows what the players need to show their best. During the free day when the mayor of the town gave lunch for the participants and the trainers we learned something more about him. He was making the toasts-greeting us all, and especially Nona Gapridanshvili, who was celebrating her birthday then, when Zurab Sturua stood and gave a toast for the organizer himself. “He is also ours” said Gaprindashvili. “Yes, we won the USSR championship back in 1977 for the team of… Georgia”, adds Sturua. Lputian told us that he dreamed to have Jermuk as a chess town since the time that he first saw it. He is now happy that this dream came true.
The tournament was very popular in Armenia as a whole. From the start of our journey at the Erevan airport, I saw many posters on the road to Jermuk. Daily reports were shown on the national TV. During the event Armenian school for young talents was established in Jermuk, and almost all the best young Armenian players participated in a tournament nearby the venue. Those young players took the chance to make pictures with some of the participants at the closing ceremony.
How did the tournament go? Nana Dzagnidze won her first Grand Prix tournament in an impressive manner after a stormy start- 7.5/8, with wins against her main rivals. She showed good preparation (this is the place to mention once again her trainer Zurab Sturua), excellent calculation skills, and above all-strong will and nerves. Tatiana Kosintseva took clear second and produced many modal games. Despite her loss against Dzagnidze, she was the only pursuer that the Georgian had. Third-fifth places were shared by L. Mkrtchian, A. Stefanova and E. Danielian. Both the Armenian players can be fully satisfied with their performance in the strong field, while Ety can be satisfied with the way that she recovered after the poor start. The elo favourite Hou Yifan looked very tired after two extra strong tournaments that she played in China. Shen Yang played very interesting games, and could do better, while Pia Cramling made it to the fifty percents only thanks to her final two wins. Both former champions M. Chiburdanidze and Xu Yuhua must be disappointed by their pale performance, as well as B. Kovanova and M. Fierro.
After the fourth tournament from the Grand Prix series, the leader in the overall ranking is Nana Dzagnidze who has in her active a first, second and third place. Tatiana Kosintseva is in the battlefor the overall victory too, with a first and second place, while Xu Yuhua and Humpy Koneru have also won tournaments so far. Let me remind you that the overall winner of the Grand Prix Series receives the chance to challenge the winner of the Women World Cup in a match for the world title.


Women Grand Prix in Jermuk

The Grand Prix tournament in Jermuk, Armenia is already over. Ety started poorly, and until round nine was only on fifty percents. She managed to recover at the end and to share the third place, scoring 2.5/3 in the last games. She tried many new openings, and I am sure that this will pay back in the coming tournaments.
In the penultimate round Ety fought well to save a lost position, and even missed a beautiful study-like win at the end:
Stefanova Antoaneta - Kosintseva Tatiana
Genrikh Kasparian Grand Prix - Jermuk-20 (10.2), 2010
[Dejan Bojkov]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qb3 c5 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.Qxc3 c4 10.Nd2 0–0 11.e3 h6 12.Bf4 Nb6 13.a4 a5 14.Be2 Be6 15.Qa3

15...Qd7 16.Nb1 Rfc8 17.Be5 Qd8 18.f3 Bf5 19.Nc3 Bd3 20.Rd1 Nfd7 21.Bf4 Bxe2 22.Kxe2 Nf8 23.Rhe1 Rc6 24.Kf1 f5 25.Kg1 Qd7 26.Bg3 Ng6 27.Qa1 Rf8 28.Qc1 Re6 29.Qc2 Qc6 30.Nb5 Rf7 31.Ra1 Rf8 32.Qc3 Nxa4 33.Rxa4 Qxb5 34.Rxa5 Qd7 35.Bf2 [35.Qb4 Rfe8 36.Rb5 Rxe3 37.Rxe3 Rxe3 38.Rxb7 Qe6 39.Rb6 іs slightly better for Black] 35...Rb6

36.e4? fxe4 37.fxe4 Nf4 38.Bg3 Rb3 39.Qd2 Nd3 40.Rxd5 Qg4 41.Qd1 Qxd1 42.Rxd1 Rxb2 After a tough battle, and mistakes by Ety in the time trouble, Tatiana managed to get a winning endgame. Still, a couple of subtle moves are needed, but is seemed that she got over-relaxed. 43.h4 Ra8? The obvious plan is to advance the passed pawns. This active move with the rook is a mere waste of time. Moreover, the rook was placed great on the other open file, not letting his white collegue to penetrate via it to the seventh rank. [43...b5! is winning 44.Kh2 (44.Rd7 b4 45.Ra1 Kh7 46.Raa7 Rg8 followed by march of the c pawn.) 44...b4 45.Rd7 b3 46.Rc7 (46.Ra1 Ra2 and both the open files are under control.) 46...Rc2–+ 47.d5 b2 48.Rb1 Rc1 49.Rxb2 Nxb2 50.Be5 Rf2–+] 44.Kh2 b5 Probably here Tatiana reazlized that the doubling on the second rank will not bring her dividents: [44...Raa2 45.Kh3 Rxg2 46.Rf1 Rge2 47.Rd8+ Kh7 48.Rff8 and Black has to accept the draw: 48...Kg6 a) 48...Rxe4?? 49.h5 leads to mate; b) 48...Nf2+ 49.Bxf2 Rxf2 50.Rxf2 Rxf2 51.Kg3 Rf1 52.Rc8 b5 53.e5 Re1 54.Kf2 Re4 55.Kf3 Rxd4 56.e6 Rd3+= 57.Kf4 (57.Kf2 Rd2+ 58.Kf3 Rd3+=) 57...g5+ 58.hxg5 hxg5+ 59.Kxg5 Re3 60.Kf6 Rf3+ 61.Ke5 Re3+ 62.Kd6 Rd3+ 63.Kc5 Re3 64.Kxb5 Rxe6 65.Kxc4; 49.Rd6+ Kh7= (49...Kh5? 50.Rd5+ g5 51.Rh8 Kg6 52.hxg5 hxg5 53.Rd6+ Kg7 54.Rc8±) ] 45.Rd7 Re8 46.e5 The waste ot two tempoes in sharp position is enough for Black to lose her advantage. Now the game becomes extremely exciting: 46...b4 47.Rc7 Correctly harassing the passers. And not: [47.Ra1 Kh7 48.h5 c3 when Black wins.] 47...Ra2 Or: [47...b3 when the best is: 48.d5! (48.Rxc4? Rc2 49.Rxd3 Rxc4 50.Rxb3 Rxd4 with large advantage for Black) 48...Nxe5 49.Bxe5 Rxe5 50.d6 Ree2 51.d7 Rxg2+ 52.Kh3 Rh2+ 53.Kg4 Rbg2+ 54.Kf3 Rf2+ 55.Ke3

and perpetual check, as White cannot step on the d file: 55...Re2+= 56.Kd4?! Rd2+ 57.Rxd2 Rxd2+ 58.Kxc4 b2 59.Rb7 Rxd7і] 48.Rf1! Ety is not falling into the trap: [48.Rxc4? Nb2 49.Rd2 Nxc4 50.Rxa2 b3–+] 48...c3 It is too late to fight for the seventh rank: [48...Rf8? 49.Rxf8+ Kxf8 50.e6 b3 51.Bd6+ (51.d5 is also sufficient for a win) 51...Kg8 52.Rc8+ Kh7 53.e7 Re2 54.e8Q Rxe8 55.Rxe8 c3 56.Ba3 b2 57.Rb8 c2 58.Bxb2 Nxb2 59.Rc8+-] 49.Rff7 c2?! Now suddenly Black is on the verge of the loss. Tatiana had to settle for a slightly worse rook endgame: [49...Kh8 50.Rxg7 h5 51.Rh7+ Kg8 52.Rcg7+ Kf8 53.d5 Nxe5 54.Bxe5 Rxe5 55.Rb7 Kg8 56.Rhc7 Ra8 57.Rxb4 Rxd5 58.Rxc3 Ra7 This is a draw as the king is save on the seventh rank.] 50.Rxg7+ Kh8 51.Rh7+ Kg8 52.Rhg7+ Kh8 53.Rh7+ Kg8 54.Rcg7+ Kf8

55.Rf7+ With second on the clock Ety could not find the extremely difficult study-like win: [55.e6! Ra6 (55...Rxe6 56.Rb7 Kg8 57.Rhc7 Ra8 (57...Re8 58.Rg7+ Kh8 59.Rh7+ Kg8 60.Rbg7+ Kf8 61.Bd6+ Re7 62.Rxe7 c1Q 63.Rh8#) 58.Rxc2+-) 56.d5!! Support of the e6 pawn that creates mating net is much more important than the newborn black queen! 56...c1Q 57.Rg6!

Remarkable position. Black is a whole queen ahead, but has to give back material with interest to defend the mate on f7. Genrikh Kasparian would be delighted to see this over the board! 57...Qf1 (57...Raxe6 58.dxe6 Rxe6 59.Rxe6 followed by Rh7-c7 and Blck is helpless against Bg3-d6+ and mate on the back rank.) 58.Rh8+ Ke7 59.d6+!! Rxd6 (59...Kd8 60.Rxe8+ Kxe8 61.Rg8+ Qf8 62.d7+ Ke7 63.Rxf8+-) 60.Rxe8+ Kxe8 61.Bxd6+- and the threat Rg6-g8 forces Black to part with her queen.] 55...Kg8 56.Rhg7+ Kh8 57.Rh7+ 1/2