4

In round 7 of the Tata Steel Masters 2020, there was a game between Anand and Carlsen. Anand had the upper hand out of the opening but they drew on move 54. Instead, Anand missed 54.Rb4! Nxc7 55. Rc4 leading to this forced position. Stockfish 10 at depth 37 evaluates at +1.47. If this were the case what would be the technique to win such an ending?

 [Event "Tata Steel Masters"]
 [Site "Wijk aan Zee"]
 [Date "2020.01.18"]
 [Round "7"]
 [White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
 [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
 [Result "1/2-1/2"]
 [ECO "B31"]
 [WhiteElo "2758"]
 [BlackElo "2872"]
 [Annotator "DF"]
 [PlyCount "114"]
 [EventDate "2020.??.??"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. c3 Nf6 6. Re1 O-O 7. d4 a6 8. Bd3 d5 9. e5 Ne8 10. dxc5 Bg4 11. Be2 Nc7 12. Nbd2 a5 13. h3 Bc8 14. Bd3 Ne6 15. Nb3 a4 16. Nbd4 Nxc5 17. Bc2 Qa5 18. Bd2 Rd8 19. Qc1 Ne6 20. b4 Qc7 21. Nxc6 bxc6 22. Be3 c5 23. bxc5 Nxc5 24. Qa3 Ne6 25. Rab1 d4 26. Nxd4 Bxe5 27. Nb5 Qc6 28. Rb4 Bb7 29. Be4 Qd7 30. Bxb7 Qxb7 31. Rxa4 Bf4 32. Rxa8 Rxa8 33. Qb3 Bxe3 34. Rxe3 Nf4 35. Rf3 Qe4 36. Kh2 Nd5 37. c4 Qe5+ 38. g3 Nf6 39. a3 Ne4 40. Qc2 Ng5 41. Re3 Qc5 42. h4 Ne6 43. Qe2 Rc8 44. Rc3 h5 45. Kg2 Kf8 46. Qe4 Kg8 47.  d5 Qb6 48. a4 Qa6 49. c5 Qxa4 50. c6 Rd8 51. Qc4 Qxc4 52. Rxc4 Rb8 53. c7 Rc8 54. Rb4 (54. Rc1 {Was played and draw agreed.}) 54... Nxc7 55. Rc4 Nxb5 56. Rxc8+ Kg7 57. Kf3 Nd6 $16
3

First, despite the big eval, it is still probably equal in the long run with best play. In the games below, the weaker side often weakened the position, making easier for the stronger side to win. When in doubt, it is probably not a good idea to move pawns while defending.

It is of note that Anand, and I am sure this is not accidental here, has the optimal kingside pawn setup with f7-g6-h5. Remember that setup as it makes it hard for white to get a passed pawn, or otherwise attack the black pawns. That black also has an e-pawn makes it better here. I will give a couple of games below without the e-pawn that white managed to win just to show some possible ideas.

Again, it is still likely drawn, but if white were to be able to do anything, it is clear that e7 and f7 are the black soft spots, so any successful plan would involve the rook attacking them, most likely with a king walk to the eight rank somehow. This type of king walk ins not uncommon in some endgames with all the pawns on one side. That said, it is definitely worth playing on here.

I could not find any games with the pawn on e7 (I did find some with the pawn on e3, and colors reversed after, and added the wins below), but I did find a three games with the pawn on e6 that were all drawn, with one by famous players (the other two are not worth showing as one was between lower-rated players, and the other between low 2400s, but in blitz). In the first, you can see Najdorf successfully defend by tying down white to f2 and then advancing his central pawns. Despite the draw, I am a bit skeptical of how black played based on some of the games below.

 [Event "Venice"]
 [Site "Venice"]
 [Date "1948.??.??"]
 [Round "?"]
 [White "Euwe, Max"]
 [Black "Najdorf, Miguel"]
 [Result "1/2-1/2"]
 [ECO "D72"]
 [PlyCount "102"]
 [EventDate "1948.??.??"]
 [EventType "tourn"]
 [EventRounds "13"]
 [EventCountry "ITA"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nb6 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. d5 Nb8 9. Nbc3 c6 10. O-O cxd5 11. exd5 O-O 12. Qb3 N8d7 13. a4 Ne5 14. a5 Nbd7 15. Be3 Ng4 16. Bd4 Bxd4 17. Nxd4 Ngf6 18. a6 Nc5 19. axb7 Bxb7 20. Qb5 Qb6 21. Rfe1 Rfe8 22. b4 Na6 23. Nc6 Kf8 24. Qc4 Nc7 25. Na4 Qb5 26. Qxb5 Nxb5 27. Nc5 Bxc6 28. dxc6 e6 29. Nd7+ Ke7 30. Nxf6 Kxf6 31. c7 Nxc7 32. Bxa8 Rxa8 33. Ra5 Nd5 34. Rb1 Rb8 35. Rxa7 Rxb4 36. Rxb4 Nxb4 37. h4 h5 38. Kg2 Nc6 39. Rd7 Ne5 40. Rc7 Ng4 41. Kf3 Nh6 42. Kf4 Nf5 43. Ke4 Nh6 44. Rc3 Ng4 45. Rf3+ Ke7 46. Kd4 f5 47. Kc3 e5 48. Kd2 e4 49. Ra3 Nxf2 50. Ra6 Kf7 51. Ke3 Nd3 1/2-1/2

Here are a couple of games without the extra e-pawn just to show some similar games that white won. The first is close to how I imagined trying to win, and the second shows black not defending too well.

 [Event "Warsaw AIG Life rapid 9th"]
 [Site "Warsaw"]
 [Date "2009.12.20"]
 [Round "11"]
 [White "Sergeev, Vladimir"]
 [Black "Lind, Jan Olov"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [ECO "A48"]
 [WhiteElo "2428"]
 [BlackElo "2209"]
 [PlyCount "129"]
 [EventDate "2009.12.19"]
 [EventType "swiss (rapid)"]
 [EventRounds "13"]
 [EventCountry "POL"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 c5 5. e3 b6 6. c3 O-O 7. h3 Bb7 8. Bd3 d6 9. O-O Nbd7 10. a4 a6 11. Qe2 Qc7 12. e4 e5 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Rfd1 Rfe8 15. Bc2 Nf8 16. Nc4 Re6 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Bb3 Rd8 19. Rxd8 Qxd8 20. Rd1 Qc7 21. Ne3 Rd6 22. Bd5 Ne6 23. Qc4 h5 24. h4 Kg7 25. g3 Qd7 26. Ra1 Bxd5 27. Nxd5 b5 28. axb5 axb5 29. Qe2 c4 30. Qe3 Rxd5 31. exd5 Qxd5 32. Re1 Nc5 33. Nxe5 Na4 34. Re2 Bxe5 35. Qxe5+ Qxe5 36. Rxe5 Nxb2 37. Rxb5 Nd1 38. Rc5 Nxc3 39. Rxc4 Nd5 40. Rc6 Nf6 41. Kg2 Ng4 42. Ra6 Ne5 43. Kf1 Ng4 44. Ke2 Ne5 45. f3 Nd7 46. Ke3 Nf6 47. Kd4 Ng8 48. Ke5 Nh6 49. Kf4 Ng8 50. Ra7 Nf6 51. Ra5 Ng8 52. g4 hxg4 53. fxg4 Nf6 54. g5 Nd7 55. Ke4 Nf8 56. Ra6 Nd7 57. Kd5 Nf8 58. Rd6 Nh7 59. Kc6 Nf8 60. Kc7 Nh7 61. Kd8 Kf8 62. Rb6 f6 63. Rb7 Kg8 64. Rxh7 fxg5 65. Rh6 1-0

And the second:

 [Event "Belgrade Trako"]
 [Site "Belgrade"]
 [Date "1995.??.??"]
 [Round "5"]
 [White "Ostojic, Nikola"]
 [Black "Nestorovic, Dejan"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [ECO "D85"]
 [WhiteElo "2465"]
 [BlackElo "2415"]
 [PlyCount "105"]
 [EventDate "1995.03.??"]
 [EventType "tourn"]
 [EventRounds "13"]
 [EventCountry "YUG"]
 [EventCategory "9"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bb5+ c6 8. Ba4 O-O 9. Ne2 c5 10. O-O Nc6 11. Be3 Qc7 12. Qc2 Na5 13. Qc1 Bd7 14. Bxd7 Qxd7 15. Bh6 cxd4 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. cxd4 Rac8 18. Qe3 b6 19. Rad1 Rc2 20. d5 Rxa2 21. Nd4 Kg8 22. Rd3 Nc4 23. Qc1 Rc8 24. Nc6 Rxc6 25. Qb1 Rd2 26. Rxd2 Nxd2 27. dxc6 Qxc6 28. Rc1 Qb7 29. Qd3 Nxe4 30. Qd8+ Kg7 31. Rc7 Qa6 32. Qd4+ Nf6 33. Rxe7 h5 34. h3 Qa5 35. Qc4 Qd5 36. Qxd5 Nxd5 37. Rxa7 Kf6 38. Kf1 Ke6 39. h4 Kf6 40. g3 Ke6 41. Ke2 Nf6 42. Kd3 Ng4 43. Ra2 Kf5 44. Rb2 Ne5+ 45. Kd4 Nd7 46. Kd5 Nf6+ 47. Kd6 Ne4+ 48. Ke7 g5 49. Kxf7 gxh4 50. gxh4 Nc5 51. Rxb6 Nd3 52. Rb3 Ne5+ 53. Kg7 1-0

I found two more wins but with colors reversed and with the e-pawn. The first win is by the venerable Yermo, who is a great endgame expert. In this game, you see Yermo try to get a passer with f6, and g5, but when white does not trade, he grabs space instead. Then you see the king walk again hitting the soft spots. This is probably the game you should imitate. If there were a "textbook example", I would probably use this one.

 [Event "Western Pacific op 3rd"]
 [Site "Burbank"]
 [Date "2005.03.26"]
 [Round "3"]
 [White "Kretchetov, Alexandre"]
 [Black "Yermolinsky, Alex"]
 [Result "0-1"]
 [ECO "E11"]
 [WhiteElo "2326"]
 [BlackElo "2570"]
 [PlyCount "146"]
 [EventDate "2005.03.25"]
 [EventType "swiss"]
 [EventRounds "5"]
 [EventCountry "USA"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 c5 5. Bxb4 cxb4 6. g3 O-O 7. Bg2 d6 8. O-O Re8 9. a3 bxa3 10. Rxa3 Nc6 11. Nc3 a5 12. Nb5 Na7 13. Nxa7 Rxa7 14. b4  b6 15. Qc2 Qc7 16. Rfa1 Bb7 17. Nd2 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 e5 19. dxe5 Rxe5 20. Nf3 Re4 21. bxa5 Rxa5 22. Rxa5 bxa5 23. Qd2 Qxc4 24. e3 a4 25. Qxd6 Re8 26. Nd4 h5 27. h3 Ra8 28. Ra3 Ne4 29. Qe5 Nd2 30. Qb5 Qxb5 31. Nxb5 Nc4 32. Rc3 a3 33. Rxc4 a2 34. Rc1 a1=Q 35. Rxa1 Rxa1 36. h4 g6 37. Nd4 Kg7 38. Nf3 Ra2 39. Nd4 Kf6 40. Kf3 Rb2 41. Ne2 Ke5 42. Nf4 Rd2 43. Ne2 Rd6 44. Nf4 Rf6 45. Kg2 Ke4 46. Nh3 Kd3 47. Ng1 Ra6 48. Nf3 f6 49. Kf1 Ra5 50. Kg2 g5 51. Kf1 g4 52. Nd4 Ra6 53. Nb5 Rb6 54. Nd4 Kd2 55. Kg1 Rb1+ 56. Kg2 Rd1 57. Ne6 Ke1 58. Nf4 Rd2 59. Kg1 f5 60. Nxh5 Rxf2 61. Nf4 Ra2 62. h5 Kd2 63. Kf2 Kc3+ 64. Kg1 Kc4 65. Ng6 Kd5 66. Nf4+ Ke4 67. h6 Ra6 68. h7 Rh6 69. Ne6 Kxe3 70. Ng5 f4 71. gxf4 Kxf4 72. Ne6+ Kg3 73. Ng5 Kh4 0-1

And IM Tania Sachdev, who was not an IM at the time, being beaten by a fellow IM.

 [Event "Olomouc Proclient Cup"]
 [Site "Olomouc"]
 [Date "2004.07.08"]
 [Round "6"]
 [White "Sachdev, Tania"]
 [Black "Gavrilov, Alexei V"]
 [Result "0-1"]
 [ECO "E18"]
 [WhiteElo "2240"]
 [BlackElo "2441"]
 [PlyCount "118"]
 [EventDate "2004.07.04"]
 [EventType "tourn"]
 [EventRounds "11"]
 [EventCountry "CZE"]
 [EventCategory "2"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Na6 8. Bf4 d6 9. Rc1 Re8 10. a3 c5 11. dxc5 bxc5 12. Qc2 Qb6 13. Rfd1 d5 14. cxd5 exd5 15. Nh4 d4 16. Na4 Qb5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Nf5 Nd5 19. Bd6 Bg5 20. Bxc5 Bxc1 21. Rxc1 Nxc5 22. Nxc5 Qb6 23. Nxd4 a5 24. Qb3 Qxb3 25. Ncxb3 Nb6 26. Rc5 Na4 27. Rxa5 Nxb2 28. Rxa8 Rxa8 29. Nb5 Nc4 30. Kg2 Nxa3 31. Nxa3 Rxa3 32. Nd4 g6 33. e3 Kg7 34. h4 Kf6 35. Nf3 h5 36. Ng5 Ra7 37. Kf3 Ke5 38. Nh3 Ra2 39. Nf4 Kf5 40. Nd3 Ra3 41. e4+ Ke6 42. Ke3 f6 43. f4 f5 44. exf5+ gxf5 45. Kd4 Kd6 46. Kc4 Ra1 47. Ne5 Rg1 48. Nf3 Rxg3 49. Nd4 Rg4 50. Nxf5+ Ke6 51. Nd4+ Kf6 52. Kd3 Rxf4 53. Ke3 Rxh4 54. Nf3 Ra4 55. Kf2 Kf5 56. Kg3 Ra3 57. Kg2 Kf4 58. Ng1 Kg4 59. Ne2 Ra2 0-1
  • Boy, would it have been great to see these to play this out. :( – PhishMaster Jan 19 at 15:02
2

Averbakh provides the following plan in an example with three pawns per side, i.e., no e-pawn.

  1. Use King and Rook to restrict the knights mobility
  2. Begin a pawn storm to cramp Black to the maximum extent
  3. Advance the King to the f7 pawn decides the game

I doubt whether step 3 works with the e-pawn, but trying to win would look similar with the e-pawn.

Here is Averbakh's example game for this technique

[Event "Saltsjöbaden Interzonal"]
[Site "Stockholm SWE"]
[Date "1948.07.29"]
[EventDate "1948.07.16"]
[Round "9"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Laszlo Szabo"]
[Black "Petar Trifunovic"]
[ECO "D19"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "119"]
[FEN ""]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.O-O O-O 9.Qe2 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 Nbd7 12.Rd1 e5 13.d5 Bxc3 14.dxc6 e4 15.Qf5 bxc6 16.bxc3 Qc7 17.Ba3 c5 18.Bd5 Rab8 19.Bxe4 g6 20.Qf3 Qe5 21.Bc6 Qxc3 22.Bb5 Qe5 23.Rab1 Qe6 24.Qe2 Rfc8 25.Rbc1 Rc7 26.Rc2 a6 27.Bc4 Qc6 28.Bb2 Qxa4 29.e4 Rxb2 30.Rxb2 Ne5 31.Rc1 Nxc4 32.Rxc4 Qc6 33.Rb8+ Kg7 34.Qb2 Qe6 35.Rb6 Rc6 36.Rxc6 Qxc6 37.e5 Nd5 38.Qc1 Qe6 39.Rxc5 Qxe5 40.Qd1 Nc3 41.Rxe5 Nxd1 42.Ra5 Nc3 43.Kf1 Nb5 44.Rxa6 Nc3 45.Rc6 Nd5 46.Ke2 h6 47.Kf3 Nf6 48.Kf4 Nd7 49.Rc7 Nf6 50.Ke5 Nh7 51.Rc6 Kf8 52.f4 Kg7 53.Rd6 Nf8 54.g4 Nh7 55.h4 Nf8 56.f5 gxf5 57.gxf5 h5 58.Rd1 Nh7 59.Rg1+ Kh8 60.Kd6 1-0
  • Upvote from me, but I would like to say that in the game which you provided it's an equal number of pawns from both sides since disregarding the isolated pawn which was quickly removed. In the Anand vs Carlsen, game black has an extra pawn, but the technique should be the same I suppose. – SubhanKhan Jan 20 at 7:49

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