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Features

September 5, 2013

Even queens can be put under threat

Vladimir Kramnik of Russia won the World Chess Cup this week. He defeated Dmitry Andreikin, also of Russia, in the final round. This week’s position is from their decisive game. Kramnik is white; Andreikin is black.

Kramnik owns two rooks to Andreikin’s queen, and Kramnik has the two pawns. Because of these two pawns, Kramnik wins if he can trade the rooks for the queen. Hence, Andreikin seeks to avoid a trade and find a perpetual check, and Kramnik looks to force Andreikin’s hand. With this mind, try to find the winning move or line that caused Andreikin to resign.

White has several routes to the same end, but the most direct, simplest and least likely to err is what Kramnik played: He moved his g7 rook to e7. This forces black’s queen to flee, or else trade itself for white’s two rooks, which loses.

 A systemic breakdown of black’s options illustrates why Andreikin resigned after Kramnik’s move. If the queen moves to the “f” file, a white rook checks from f7 and the rooks and queen trade each other off the board. If the queen moves to the “g” file, white’s h7 rook first checks from f7, pushing the enemy king to g8, and then checks from g7, which again forces a trade.

Black’s queen may also run to the “a” through “d” files on the other side of the board. White now employs a mating threat to force a trade. For example, if the queen escapes to d6, white’s e7 attacks the queen from d7.

This threatens both the queen and mate on d8. Black can thwart only the mate by moving its queen to f6, which in turn allows a rook check from f7, ending the game.

A similar combination occurs if the queen runs to c4. White’s e7 rook slides over to c7. Mate is immediately averted in one of two ways. One way is by moving the black king to g8. White’s rook on c7 takes black’s queen and black’s king takes white’s h7 rook, which loses. Alternatively, black’s queen moves to the “d” file so it can block white’s rook from checking on c8. The queen stops mate by moving to d8. White’s c8 rook takes the queen, and black is again the loser.

The theme this week is that sometimes you can run but you cannot hide, even if you’re a queen.

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