I enjoy games with underpromotions.
Here is one of my favorite games. You’ll see that not all underpromotions are necessary, or even good.
A GM learns this lesson the hard way.
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2784)-
GM Hikaru Nakamura (2792)
Paris Grand Chess Tour
France, June 25 2017
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 O-O 5.Bg5 c5 6.e3 cxd4 7.exd4 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Be2 h6
[This position has occurred a few times before in Grandmaster chess, the latest two being, surprisingly, other blitz games. (1) 9.Be2 h6 10.Bh4 g5 11.Bg3 Ne4 12.Rc1 Nc6 13.O-O Bxc3 14.bxc3 Bf5 15.Ne5 Rc8 16.f4 Nxe5 17.fxe5 Qd7 18.Bd3 Kg7 19.Qf3 Bg6 20.c4 dxc4 21.Bxe4 Qxd4+ 22.Kh1 Qxe4 23.Qf6+ Kh7 24.Rce1 Qd4 25.Rd1 Bd3 26.Qe7 Qd5 27.Rf6 c3 28.Rd6 c2 29.Rc1 Qe4 30.Qf6 Kg8 31.Qxh6 Qf5 32.Rf6 Rc6 33.h3 Rxf6 34.exf6 Qg6 35.Qxg6+ Bxg6 36.Kg1 Rd8 0-1 [GM A. Tari (2584)-GM Wei Yi (2707), World Blitz, Doha, Qayar, Dec. 29 2016], and (2) 9.Be2 h6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.O-O Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 b6 14.Nd2 Be6 15.Nf1 Na5 16.Ne3 Rac8 17.Rc1 Rfd8 18.Bd3 Rc7 19.g3 g6 20.Ng2 Nc4 21.Rc2 Re7 22.Qc1 Bf5 23.Rxe7 Bxd3 24.Rxa7 g5 25.Rd2 Nxd2 26.Qxd2 Be4 27.Ne1 Re8 28.a4 Bf3! 0-1 (White loses fastest with 29.Nxf3? Qxf3, with the idea of 30…Rd2. But even with the better 29.h3 Re2 30.Qd1 g4 31.hxg4 Bxg4 32.Nd3 Qf3 33.Ra8+ Kg7 34.Ra7 Qe4 35.Kh2 Qf3 36.Kg1 Qe4, he is quite lost.) [GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2784)-GM Carlsen (2832), Blitz Game, Paris Grand Chess Tour, France, June 21 2017]. Yes, the last game was played in the same event, just four days before the current game! Speaking of the current game, let’s now return to it.]
10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.O-O Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 b6!? 14.Nd2 Be6 15.Nf1 Rac8 16.Ne3 Ne7 17.Rc1 Ng6 18.g3 Rc7 19.f4 Ne7 20.Bd3 Rfc8 21.Qd2 Bd7 22.Ba6 Rd8 23.Bd3 Qd6 24.f5 Kh8 25.Rf1 Ng8 26.Ng4 b5 27.Ne5 Be8 28.Rce1 Rdc8 29.Qf4 Rd8 30.Re3 f6 31.Ng6+ Bxg6 32.Qxd6 Rxd6 33.fxg6 Rd8 34.Bxb5 Ne7 35.Bd3 Rxc3 36.Rxe7 Rxd3 37.Rfe1 Rf8 38.Rf7 Rg8 39.Rxa7 Rxd4 40.a4 Rg4 41.Rd1 Rxg6 42.Rxd5 Rg4 43.Rdd7 Rb8 44.Kg2 Rb2+ 45.Kf3 h5 46.Rd5 Rb3+ 47.Kg2 Rb2+ 48.Kh3 Rg5 49.Raa5 Rxd5 50.Rxd5 g5 51.g4 Rb3+ 52.Kg2 hxg4 53.Rd4 Kg7 54.Rxg4 Kg6 55.Rc4 Kh5 56.h3 f5 57.Rc8 Rb2+ 58.Kf3 Rb3+ 59.Kg2 Ra3 60.Rh8+ Kg6 61.Ra8 Kf6 62.a5 Ke5 63.a6 Kf4 64.a7 Ra2+ 65.Kf1 Kf3 66.Ke1 f4 67.Rg8 Rxa7 68.Rxg5 Ra1+ 69.Kd2 Kf2 70.h4 Ra3 71.h5 Rh3! 72.Rf5 f3 73.Kd3 Ke1 74.Re5+ Kf1 75.Rf5 Kg2 76.Ke3 f2+ 77.Ke2
77…f1=N [77…f1=B+ and 77…f1=Q+ 78.Rxf1 Rxh5 are obvious draws. Reportably Nakamura couldn’t find a bishop and didn’t want to promote to a queen, so he made the promotion to a knight (presumeably there was an available knight) to try to secure a draw. He almost made it.] 78.Rf2+ Kg1 79.Rxf1+ Kg2 80.Rf2+ Kg1 81.Rf5 Ra3 82.h6 Rh3 83.Rf6 Kh2 84.Kf2 Rh4 85.Kf3 Kh3 86.Rg6 Ra4? (The problem-like move, 86…Kh2!, is the draw. But how many players would find the move in a blitz game?) 87.h7? (And White missed 87.Rg1 and 87.Rg3+, both winning. Suffice to say Black missed some draws and White missed a few wins.) 87…Rh4 88.Rg7 Rh6? 89.Kf4 Kh4 90.Kf5 Rh5+ 91.Kg6 Kg4 92.Kf7+ 1-0