Drawing lesson from Judit

February 8, 2008

Welcome to the 9queens blog! In this blog, I will often share my favorite illustrative tactics and positional ideas from top women players. Few books make a special effort to include games by women, but just like it’s important in English to use "she" as well as "he", it’s good if the brilliant sacrificier is not always a dude. Recently, a student of mine criticized me for accidentally using "he" when talking about a generic position that I had set up to prove a point. I think he was trying to turn the tables on the teacher to get a gasp of relief, but there’s some truth in his criticism. Even a vocal feminist like me has to pay attention so not to assume that the invisible man is a man.

In the elite tournament, Biel 2007, the Hungarian Grandmaster Judit Polgar, the top woman player in history, played an interesting endgame. At first glance, it seems dismal for Judit, who was playing Black against GM Alexander Grischuk from Russia. She is down two pawns, and knight endings are notoriously lacking in drawing chances. Can you figure out what she played?

Judit played 65…Ng4! If 66.Nxg4, it’s a draw by stalemate!

However, Judit had more digging to do after Grischuk declined the knight with 66. Nc4 Nh2+ 67. Ke4. Then we get the following position:

It still looks bad because the most obvious move, Kxg3 loses to Ne5! cutting both the knight and the knight from the action and allowing the king to usher the pawn in. However, Judit found the much stronger Nf1! in the above position allowing her to pick up the g-pawn and keep her king close to the f-pawn. A few moves later, Judit reaches the end of the line:

One student of mine asked me :"Don’t Ng7 and Ng3 both draw here?" Actually they both don’t draw. Black can go very wrong here. Ng7! was played in the game, and it draws due to f6 Ne8+ followed by Nxf6. But Ng3 loses to the smart Nf1!, and Black can no longer stop the f-pawn.





Categories: Tactics / Women in chess

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