Sunday, 18 January 2015

What would you do?

A post from Clive

Here is a position reached in a league game:

Black is a rook for bishop and pawn up, but white has a dangerous passed pawn. More importantly black has 8 mins left on his clock and white 34 mins. Black to move.

Would you:

  1. Agree a draw immediately - thus protecting the team ensuring they, (with sensible play in the last remaining game), cannot lose the match?
  2. Spend 6 mins looking for a win, play on for a bit if you can’t find a win offer a draw and hope your opponent agrees? Of course if he plays on and there isn’t a quick win, Black has essentially lost on time.
  3. Play on immediately, and go for it regardless?

Right the clock is ticking, you have 6 mins!! Did you choose correctly?


  1. First of all I would take a look at the teams score. And then decide! Was the team winning with a draw, I am sure I would have accepted a draw if I could not see I could manage a safe win within my 6 minutes.

    Was this an individual game, I would play on according to option 3.. Better to lose a won position than making a draw, finding the win later on at home.. I would quickly play ...Kd7 and then try to roll in one of the weaknesses, the b5, f3,h4 (and d4) pawns. And later on.... I might cry a little bit, losing on time.

    But then again. An exciting zeitnot (time-trouble) is good for the blood stream!

  2. I would probably play on for a bit as White has no threats and no way of making things awkward. It should be safe for Black to play a few moves and see how White holds up - though Black will have to play quickly.

    I would start with Rc2 which threatens to pick up the h-pawn (which White can protect) and the b-pawn (which White can't sensibly protect). If White tries to push the d-pawn then Black drops the king back to d7 and it can't be dislodged from there.

    Worst case White will probably still accept a draw after a few moves (as long as Black doesn't take too long over the moves).

    Though of course it is much easier to say that you would play on when just looking at a position than it in an actual game with a lot at stake...

  3. I would only play Kd7 if the opponent advances the pawn. My rook cannot be directly stopped from taking the b pawn after Rb2, leaving my b pawn protected by the rook and passed. If I don’t play Rc2 now, he can stop me doing so with his king and so draw. So I will get at least a draw over the board with Rc2. My remaining pawns are untouchable as they are on the wrong colour. With my king eventually on d7, there is no penetration by white into my end of the board. He will probably have to give up the bishop to stop my b pawn from advancing. If he attacks my b pawn with both king and bishop, then I can just give up the rook and my king waltzes over to gobble up the remaining king side pawns. If I can’t do that, I can easily make 50 non moves in 6 minutes.

    Martin H