I was viewing a top-level Correspondence chess game on ICCF between an International Master and a Senior International Master. They both had over 100 days on their clocks and they were in the following position with black to move:

r2r2k1/p1q2ppp/1p2pn2/8/2P5/1P3NP1/P3QP1P/3RR1K1 b - - 0 1

It seems that with so much time on their clocks and with the use of top-level engines and concrete analysis there is no way that white is pushing for anything here. I have also seen other games like this and my question is essentially why are they playing on in such positions?

1 Answer 1


There is no doubt that this position is currently equal, and should end in a draw, but white has two pluses that are might make it worth playing on, at least for a while.

First, there e5 square, and the Nf3 can outpost there and possibly create some discomfort for black. Black does not have a similarly strong square for the Nf6. Note that if black ever kicks the Ne5, then e6 is weak, and if it then moves forward, then the a2-g8 diagonal is weakened....little concessions is what white wants to add up into a big concession.

Second, white has the possibility of creating a passed pawn on the queenside here. In the Capablanca days, they thought that having that extra queenside pawn was a huge advantage, but over the years, it has become more clear that it can be dealt with.

The reality is that the rooks should come off, and should white then try to mobilize the queenside majority, black will probably throw the h-pawn forward, and use the queen, h-pawn, and knight to try to create enough threats to draw.

In the end though, and I know that in correspondence with computers, it is less likely, but people do make mistakes.

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