AN INTRODUCTION TO THE UNDERPROMOTION, Part 1

There seems to be some confusion about underpromotions. Some players believe the rule for underpromotion goes something like this: “a pawn, upon reaching the eighth rank can be promoted to any piece”. This definition can produce some rather interesting problems. For example, it is White to move and mate in the following two problems.

 

Zuckertort?
White to Mate in 1

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Unknown
White to Mate in 1

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White’s first move in both problems is, of course, an underpromotion. Just not to his own color. In the first diagram, White checkmates with 1.g8=black Knight, while in the second, he mates with 1.bxa8=Black Rook.

 

The exact rule for underpromotion is that a player may promote to a Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight of his own color.

 

 

There is at least one more misunderstood area of underpromotion. Some players insist that you may not legally promote to a piece that did not come with the original set. That means you could not promote a pawn if you still had your original seven pieces (Not counting the King; if you need to promote to a King it probably means that you’ve already lost the game). And you certainly could not have three Knights on the board at the same time. The pawn then must remain immobile after reaching the 8th rank.

 

However, the rule clearly states that you may have three (or more!) Knights. You can promote to a dark colored Bishop, even if your original one is still on the board. You may also have as many as nine Queens at the same time (eight promoted pawns plus the original Queen). In fact, the biggest obstacle to having nine Queens at the same time may be your opponent, who may not want to defend against the armada!

 

This may seem simple enough, but there is still confusion out there in the tournament arena.

 

The following is a game played by the author;

 

Ko-Escalante
Southern California Open, 1996

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47.Nd3+ Kb1 48.Ke1 [48.Nc1? and Black can either play 48…Nf3+ or 48…Nf6 (with the idea of Ne4), winning in either case. Now back to the underpromotion theme. If Black promotes to a Queen, White would be forced to take the Queen with 49.Nxc1 Kxc1. The two Knights versus none are overwhelming, but if Black underpromotes then White could conceivably ignore the new piece. In any case, Black loses nothing by underpromoting.] 48…c1=N [Now White went off to the Tournament Director (TD), complaining that Black could not have three Knights on the board at the same time. And I should promote to a Queen. What did he expect to win by that argument!? The TD told him my move was legal and sent him back to the game. Where he promptly erred.] 49.Ne5? (Now three Knights versus one are better odds for White’s survival than two Knights versus none. But when White starts moving his Knight away, it becomes three knights versus none. And the White King is soon overwhelmed.) 49…Kc2 50.Kf1 Nd3 51.Nf7 Ne3+ 52.Kg1 Nf3+

 

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0-1 And mate next move.

 

           

 

Self-Destruction or the Big “Z”

ZUGZWANG is the compulsion to move in chess, where any move would result in loss of position, material, or game.

 

A player who is forced into this type of position does not want to move as any move by that player only makes winning the game easier for his opponent. In other words, he is forced to self-destruct, literally move by move.

Here are a few (simple) examples.
“abdo10000”-Escalante
Blitz Game
chess.com, Feb. 4 2019
[White made a miscalculation in the middlegame enabling Black to win a bishop. White could resign, but chooses to play on.]

2019_02_14_A46.Kh1 (White puts his king in a stalemate position. Unfortunately for him, he still has pawns he can move.) 46…Kf3 (Black can achieve the same result by …Kg3 or …Kh3. The important thing is to keep the white king trapped in the corner, when he must move his pawns.) 47.a3 bxa3 48.c4 a2 49.c5 a1=Qmate 0-1

 

Here two more examples, slightly more sophisticated.

 

Jonny Hector (2465)-Sergei Tiviakov (2490)
Stockholm, 1990
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h3 (A waiting move. More common is 7.Bb3.) 7…a6 8.O-O b5 9.Bb3 Bb7 10.Re1 O-O 11.Bg5 Nbd7 12.Nd5! (White usually does well if he can get this move in.) 12…Rc8 13.Qd2 Rc5 14.Nf3 Re8 15.c3 Qa8 16.Rad1 Nxd5 17.exd5 Nf6 18.Be3 Rxd5 19.Bxd5 Bxd5 20.Nh4 Bxa2 21.Bh6 Bh8 22.f4 Bb3 23.Ra1 Ne4 24.Qe3 Bd5 25.Qb6 Bb7 26.Re3 Bf6 27.Nf3 Ng3 28.Bg5 Nf5 29.Ree1 Bg7 30.Nh4 f6 31.Nxf5 gxf5 32.Bh4 Kf7 33.Re2 Bh6 34.Bg3 Qc8 35.Kh2 Qc4 36.Rf2 Qe4 37.Rf3 Qc6 38.Rxa6 Qxb6 39.Rxb6 Bxf3 40.gxf3 Ra8 41.Rxb5 Ra2 42.Kg1 Bf8 43.c4 Ra1+ 44.Kf2 Rc1 45.b3 Rc2+ 46.Kf1 h5 47.Rxf5 Rc3 48.Rb5 h4 49.Bf2 Bh6 50.f5 Rc1+ 51.Kg2 Rc2 52.f4 Bxf4 53.Kf3 Bg3 54.Be3 (White is still winning after 54.Bxg3 hxg3 55.Kxg3 Rc3+ 56.Kg4. The text move keeps the tension on the board.) 54…Be1 55.Rb8 Rh2 56.Bh6 e5 57.Rb7+ Ke8 58.Bg7 Rxh3+ 59.Ke4 Kd8 60.Bxf6+ Kc8 61.Rh7 Rxb3 62.Kd5 Rb7 63.Rh8+ Kd7 64.Bxh4! Bxh4 65.Rh7+ Be7 66.f6 Ke8 67.Ke6 d5 68.c5 Rc7 69.Rxe7+ Rxe7+ 70.fxe7
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1-0

 

 

Of course, such self-destruction is not limited to pawns only endgames.

 

GM Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch.
Reykjavik, July 11 1972
Game 1
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.e3 O-O 6.Bd3 c5 7.O-O Nc6 8.a3 Ba5 9.Ne2 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Bb6 11.dxc5 Qxd1 12.Rxd1 Bxc5 13.b4 Be7 (This position is more or less drawish. Mariotti-Tatai, Match, Rome, 1972 continued with 14.Nfd4 Bd7 15.Bb2 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Rac8 17.Rac1 Rfd8 18.Bb3 Kf8 19.Rxc8 Rxc8 20.Rc1 Rxc1+ 21.Bxc1 1/2-1/2. Spassky’s move is more dynamic.) 14.Bb2!? Bd7 15.Rac1 Rfd8 16.Ned4 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 Ba4 18.Bb3 Bxb3 19.Nxb3 Rxd1+ 20.Rxd1 Rc8 21.Kf1 Kf8 22.Ke2 Ne4 23.Rc1 Rxc1 24.Bxc1 f6 25.Na5 Nd6 26.Kd3 Bd8 27.Nc4 Bc7 28.Nxd6 Bxd6 29.b5 Bxh2?? (Black, who is the aspiring to be the next world champion, makes a horrible beginner’s move. Black never recovered in this game. And didn’t show up for the next one. Only two games into the match and Bobby was down 0-2. The fact that he won this match, and the world championship, is simply incredible.) 30.g3 h5 31.Ke2 h4 32.Kf3 Ke7 33.Kg2 hxg3 34.fxg3 Bxg3 35.Kxg3 Kd6 36.a4 Kd5 37.Ba3 Ke4 38.Bc5 a6 39.b6 f5 40.Kh4 f4 41.exf4 Kxf4 42.Kh5 Kf5 43.Be3 Ke4 44.Bf2 Kf5 45.Bh4 e5 46.Bg5! e4 47.Be3 Kf6 48.Kg4 Ke5 49.Kg5 Kd5 50.Kf5 a5 51.Bf2 g5 52.Kxg5 Kc4 53.Kf5 Kb4 54.Kxe4 Kxa4 55.Kd5 Kb5 56.Kd6

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(White can play Kc7 protecting his pawn while attacking Black’s. Black has no choice but to play 56..Ka6. White will reply with Bd4 and Black can either give up protecting his pawn. or run his pawn down the a-file, and wait for White to play an eventual Bxa1. And then Black has to give up the a6 square.)

A First

My friend, A., started a writing class. Her first assignment was to make a list 10 things of her “firsts”, and then write about them.

 

Intrigued by this idea, I decided to write about one of my “firsts”.

 

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MY FIRST TIME I WON A GAME AT CHESS.

 

 

I was in grade school in the early 1970’s and in the fourth grade.

 

I played a simple Scholar’s Mate [For those who don’t know the moves, they are 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4? (played to attack White’ queen and threaten …Nxc2+, but actually loses) 4.Qxf7mate].

scholars_mate

I was joyful. Happy. My dad played it against me and I thought it was the best way to win and why did people need chess books?

 

Then doubt.

 

Was this it? Was this the best one could achieve in chess? To win a game in four moves? Was this the only, or at least the best, way to win? Why did Grandmasters Fischer and Spassky take so long to move in their match?

 

Spassky Fischer

 

Didn’t they know about Scholar’s Mate?

 

It was only later I discovered that the game of chess is incredibly complex.

 

And what I have learned in the last 40+ years of studying this game is;

 

(1) Black does not have to respond 1…e5 to White’s first move.

 

(2) There are opening variations that go past the 10th, the 20th moves.

 

(3) There is usually a middle game.

 

(4) There are endings to learn.

 

(5) Books exist to help the beginner, the novice, the merely good player, the experienced player, the expert and the master.

 

(6) And Grandmasters know Scholar’s Mate.

Winning the Game

How many ways can you, as a player, win a game of chess? Think about it before you read further. We’ll give you the first one, “(1) You can win by checkmate. This is the main, and ultimate, goal of the game.” Now let’s see how many other ways to win you can think of.

 

s342953680842267289_p397_i1_w1200

 

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(1) You can win by checkmate. This is the main, and ultimate, goal of the game.

 

(2) You can win by your opponent resigning. It also shortens the game.

 

(3) You can win by your opponent exceeding the time limit for specified number of moves. Usually referred to as a time loss.

 

(4) You can win by your opponent not showing up for the start of the game. This differs from the above as no moves are necessary.

 

(5) Adjourning a game used to be more popular years ago. It consists of Tournament Director (TD) stopping the game and requesting a player to write down his next move on a card (without his opponent know what the move it is, of course), sealing that card in an envelope, and then sealing that envelope, the scoresheets, and the clock times in a larger envelope. The game is resumed at a later time.

If upon resumption, a player’s sealed move is found to be illegal or missing, then the opponent is awarded the game.

 

(6) If a correspondence game is in danger of going over a prearranged time limit (e.g. three years), then the game score is to be submitted to an arbitrator for adjudication who will determine the winner of the game. If he decides that with best play you would win the game, then you win the game.

 

(7) If during a thematic tournament, an opponent refuses to play the specified opening, he can be forfeited. Rarely happens as players who enter a thematic tournament do so because they WANT to play that opening.

 

(8) Any action that a TD determines to be cheating, disruptive, or anything other action that violates the laws or ethics of the game, can be declared a loss of the game by the player who is guilty of the offence. GM So recently lost a game because he kept writing positive affirmations on his score sheet, even after repeated warnings. The rules of chess state only chess moves (and other necessary items, like the opponent’s name), may be written on the score sheet.

 

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How many did you get? Do you agree with this list?