Holiday Invitational Round#6 & 7 – Return of the King and a blunder

bishop vs. knight ending

In this post I am going to include two games, round six and seven.

Round#6 – Bishop versus knight and up a pawn

Similar to round five, I won a pawn and decided to trade down into a bishop versus knight endgame. Even with an extra pawn, this can be a tricky ending. The difference was the placement of my king.

bishop vs. knight ending
Position after 42…Nc7

Normally, in an ending like this, one might prefer the power of the dark-squared bishop raking over the long diagonals. Not the case here though. Black has an extra pawn which, by itself is not a guaranteed win but Black’s advanced king makes this a winning position for me. On e4, the king has complete control of the position and keeps the white king at bay. Adding insult to injury, Black’s king can help the queenside pawn majority which will prove decisive once these pawns start to advance.

Chessmaster XI (Turk) – Paul H.
Bird’s Opening [A03]
Bellevue, WA
Holiday Invitational Round#6

Post-game analysis

A knight on the rim. Retreating my knight to h6 was a bad move. It created difficulties that lasted several moves. Once white played e4, I my knight was stuck on h6 and it took another twenty moves before I could re-integrate it back into the game. The lesson is this – avoid moving your knight away from the center. My well-intentioned idea of playing f5 was nullified when white played e4 and later g4. These are not deep moves and I should have seen them coming.

Simple recaptures not so simple. The seemingly innocuous 24…fe4 seemed reasonable enough. I was up a pawn and wanted to create a passer. The problem is that my opponent had several resources to stop and capture that pawn. Rxe4 was the move that should have been played; giving my rook mobility and still threatening to take on g4. Bishop versus knight endings favor the bishop when pawns are spread across the board.

You’re never safe. There are always threats in a chess position. I dodged a bullet when my opponent missed 28. Rd8(!). The threats of Nd6 followed by Bg5 is scary but he also gets to play Ra8, threatening to take my a7 pawn. White is now much better. Additionally, he can begin to move his king closer to the center with Kf2-e2 which has the benefit of stopping my e4 passer.

Holiday Invitational Round#6 & 7 - Return of the King and a blunder

Conclusion for Round #6

I am still trading pieces too quickly. It is important to build your position and improve the scope of your pieces throughout a chess game. Trading slows this process down and often steer the game towards a draw. This is a theme I have written about time and time again but my games continue to show this recurring problem. My strange Nh6 move is one example of not improving a piece’s scope. It’s a glaring problem given how long I had to wait to integrate the knight back into the game.

Another problem I see is that I am not looking at my opponent’s plans consistently. Oh, I glance over to see what he’s up to but I never seem to take threats seriously until they are upon me. Moving forward, I want to take extra time to look at the idea behind each of my opponent’s move. Further, I need to look at the weaknesses in my own position. A bishop versus knight ending was more advantageous to knight given my king position but I stumbled upon this idea instead of calculating.

Often times, I make moves that weaken my position without understanding the danger involved. Looking for weak squares, files and diagonals is an exercise my opponent is doing too. So, I need to switch roles and look at targets within my position that might be at risk. Striking the balance between offense and defense is difficult but something I must get used to!

Another win in the books for me. To lose this match, I will have to lose four games in a row. This is not likely. A single draw would prevent Chessmaster (Turk) from being able to win the match.

I play the white pieces in game seven. My strategy is to build on what I have learned these past six games: avoid premature exchanges and build up a crushing grip in the position. A bishop versus knight ending might still happen but I would like to win in an overwhelming fashion. Let’s see what happens.

Holiday Invitational Round#6 & 7 - Return of the King and a blunder

Round#7 – A blunder clinches the tourney for me

There isn’t a lot to write about in round seven. I missed an overwhelming advantage as early as move eleven. I screwed up a simple pawn capture that allowed my opponent back to equalize. The game was headed for a draw until CM sacrificed a piece for now compensation. In that instant, Black was lost.

It was another won ending but not like game six’s bishop versus knight + pawn. This was bishop versus rook with an extra piece.

Holiday Invitational Round#6 & 7 - Return of the King and a blunder

With three games to go, there is no way for me to lose this match. Still, I want to make sure I continue to apply the principles I have been trying to improve upon. Two of the biggest ones are unnecessary trades and failing to calculate my opponent’s plans. These will be the central theme for round eight!

What are your thoughts? Have you been up a pawn in a bishop versus knight ending? Or even up a full piece in an ending? Were you able to convert? Please share below.