[FEN "7r/p3k3/2p5/1pPp4/3P4/PP4P1/3P1PB1/2K5 w - - 0 1"]

1. Kd1 Rh2 2. Ke1 Rxg2 3. Kf1 Rh2 4. Kg1 Rh6 5. f3 Re6 6. Kf2 Kf6 7. Kf1 Kf5 8. Kf2 b4 9. a4 Re4 $4 *

The position and variation was taken from Mastering the Positional Chess by Daniel Naroditsky, Chapter 3, Page no. 95.

Stockfish says starting position is losing. That's what Daniel also wrote in that book. But later he clarified the position is drawn. In his book, he marked Ke1 as brilliant move whereas chess.com mark it as inaccuracy. Even no player between 1000-2000 will ever play Re4. Even after Re4 it is winning for white.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "?"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "7r/p3k3/2p5/1pPp4/3P4/PP4P1/3P1PB1/2K5 w - - 0 1"]

1. Kd1 Rh2 2. Ke1 Rxg2 3. Kf1 Rh2 4. Kg1 Rh6 5. f3 Re6 6. Kf2 Kf6 7. Kf1 Kf5 8.
Kf2 b4 9. a4 Re4 10. fxe4+ Kxe4 11. Kg2 Kd3 12. g4 Kc2 13. g5 Kxb3 14. g6 Ka3
15. g7 b3 16. g8=Q b2 17. Qg6 Ka2 18. Kf3 b1=Q 19. Qxb1+ Kxb1 20. Kf4 Kc2 {No
matter which way black king will go he is always slow. Whereas the variation in
Naroditsky's book ended after b2. {he didn't continue the variation anymore\}}
(20... Ka2 21. Ke5 Ka3 22. Kd6 Kxa4 23. Kxc6 Kb4 24. Kd6 a5 25. c6 a4 26. c7 a3
27. c8=Q a2 28. Qb7+ Ka3 29. Qa6+ Kb2 30. Kxd5 a1=Q 31. Qxa1+) 21. Ke5 Kxd2 22.
Kd6 Kd3 23. Kxc6 Kxd4 24. Kb5 Ke4 25. c6 d4 26. c7 d3 27. c8=Q d2 *

In the above variations, Daniel stopped his variation after b2. And black can play some waiting move but white's king will aim for others pawn whereas the queen will guard the b1 square forever. As played out the moves on board, I noticed black's king is slower than white's king to grabs pawns. So no matter where the black's king aims for he is likely to be lost. I didn't see any drawing chances.

How the position before Re4 is draw? Even how is it likely to be draw after Re4?

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1 Answer 1


I think you misunderstood both the position and Naroditsky's comments.

Stockfish says starting position is losing.

The point of the study, as often, is that the correct evaluation goes against your first intuition. Here Stockfish is confused by the huge material advantage Black can gain and typically fails to assess correctly that White can build a fortress and save the draw.

The credit for this gem goes of course to the study's creative author, Vitaly Chekhover, not to Naroditsky.

That's what Daniel also wrote in that book.

Daniel Naroditsky did not write that White is losing. He wrote "At first sight, White is completely lost" which hints that there is more to be found than what's on the surface and stresses out how miraculous the saving idea will be.

If black doesn't play Re4 then white is likely to out of moves sooner (will be in zugzwang.)

That's not correct. White has the waiting moves Kf1-f2-f1 when the black rook is on the e-file and Kg1-g2-g1 if it switches to the h-file. Thus White will never be in zugzwang and can patiently hold in his fortress. Whatever the evaluation of your engine, this position is a draw.

After Re4 it is winning for white.

Even if it's true it won't change Naroditsky's point: with or without ...Re4, Black cannot win.

Didn't Daniel calculate other variations while analyzing this position (I am not asking if he had really did. But I am asking why didn't he show other variations as he did for other examples)?

The position after 9.a4 is a positional draw where there is no variation to be checked at all: ...a6 or ...a5 or king moves are pointless, the white King can deny any entry square from the black Rook, so Naroditsky analysed 9...Re4 because targetting d4 is basically the only attempt to disturb the balance.

The reader is expected to check by himself that "Black has no way to break through", you can try to shuffle the rook a bit to convince yourself, but no extra variation can help you reaching that conclusion. He could have given a line like 9...Rh6 10.Kg2 Kf6 11.Kg1 Ke7 11.Kg2 a6 12.Kg1 Re6 13.Kf1 a5 14.Kf2 Kd7 15.Kf1 Re8 16.Kf2 and so on ad nauseam, but that would not have been much more informative.

  • 1
    I see the point. Black's king can't enter the white's position and whenever black's rook tries to go to open file king has to stop rook from coming down. So closing the position held draw for white. I will edit later, why did I find Re4 is losing (from my perspective). Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 13:49
  • 3
    Excellent answer and with Chekhover credits!
    – Pit
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 16:00

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