-1

From pogchamps, specifically semifinals of consolation bracket of pogchamps 3:

[FEN "4k3/7p/5p2/8/P2rr3/5N2/6PP/4R1K1 w - - 0 1"]

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Black (Michelle Khare) just blundered a rook, but white (pokimane) failed to capitalise.

White is currently 1 pawn down but is about to be 2 pawns down so it's basically (rook and) knight vs rook (and rook).


Questions:

  1. How does black win this? I tried running in an engine and even though it gives black an evaluation of around -1, the evaluation slowly went up to -0.4. Or if it's not really a win for black then how does white draw this?

  2. The pawns are on 1 wing. What, if anything, does this mean? Eg more/less likely black will win/white will draw as opposed to pawns on both wings.


Note 1: If this turns out to be a fortress or something, then please feel free to edit the tags.

Note 2: This might be covered in Karsten Müller's endgame series probably Volumes 9 or 12, but I think it was covered a bit in Volumes 1, 2 or 4. What I do remember in Volumes 1-4 that might be relevant is that all the pawns are (going to be) on 1 wing.

Note 3: In case it isn't obvious, I'm talking about serious higher level play. A 1500+ in pogchamps should of course win this easily. So what I really mean to ask is how black wins the position, if possible and not literally how Michelle Khare beats Pokimane like literally explaining to a 600+ how to beat another 600+.

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I can only try to give a very generic and partial answer, since details matter extremely. I shamelessly copy stuff from Müller/Lamprecht "Fundamental Chess Endings".

  • Q2 can be answered fully: as always, pawns on different wings means the knight usually loses (being a slower unit than a rook or even a bishop), especially against a rook. Here, they are on one wing, and Black even has a rook pawn, meaning that resacrificing the exchange to win with the last pawn is even harder.
  • As always, the weaker side should try to exchange pawns.
    • But note that this is not the all-cure, in the game Reddmann-Müller :-) (RPP-NPP same wing, BCE 7.15) White (the R party) had even to sacrifice a P to convert into a clear win.
    • This means the knight should not land on a "bad circuit", but try its best to hold a fortress. E.g. RP-NP, same line, usually can be hold.
  • Zugzwang gives N knightmares. (Sorry.) It is thus the best weapon to break pseudo fortresses.
  • Without a P stronghold the N might get chased and ultimately caught.
  • Black must try to penetrate with the king from below. For example, White's Kf2/Nf1/Pg2/Ph3 can only be busted by running in via d3-e2.
  • Black's pawns are split (disconnected), thus annoying counterattacks are possible if Black tries the former.
  • I played blitz with engine suggestions and it seems that Black wins with exactly the suggestions outlined above: White plays h3 and then "nothing". Black protects the bad Ps with the R if necessary, plays a P to h4 (White can never play g3, it frees the f pawn - this also means if White sets up g3-h2 instead of h3-g2, it is even easier to attack by h4), penetrates with the K and keeps the wK encased, and as soon as the bK appears on e3, even f3 is no longer a stronghold for the wN, as Rxf3 always wins.
  • Overall: A win with precise Black play, at least Carlsen should convert without problems. White always has too much "holes" to construct a fortress.
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