For today’s post, I have 2 positions where a player uses a critical stalemating technique to preserve a half point. I highly recommend setting these up on a board a visualizing these variations. After all, these are the kind of skills that you will need to have developed in a real game!
Postion 1: White to Play (Gorgiev)
Before we delve into the variations, it is critical to recognize that with doubled h-pawns, White’s ability to win fully depends on Black’s quality of play. However, this means that it is White that is playing for a draw, while Black will challenge for the point.
1. h6 “Passed Pawns must be pushed!” Its a bit dogmatic, but White needs Black’s king to move away to have any shot of a result. 1… Kf8 2. h5 Covering the g6 square. Notice how the white pawns do a nice job of covering both g7 and g6. 2… Kf7 Black blocks any hope of entry for White’s king. This next move is critical for White.
If you thought 3. Kf4 was correct, well check again after 3…f5 4. Kg3 Kg8 -+ Black has won the endgame, as White’s king is stuck on g3/f4. Black will snack on the h-pawns and rendezvous with his passed pawns for the win.
If you saw the only other option, 3. Ke3! Kudos to you. Let’s start with one of two responses for Black.
3… f5 Not the best move, but must be calculated. 4. Kf4 Kf6 5. Kg3= or 4… Kg8 5. Kxf5! g3 6.Kg6 g2 7. h7+ Kh8 8. Kh6= The key technique. Any major piece promotion results in stalemate, and a minor piece promotion is insufficient for Black to checkmate.
3…Kf8 is more challenging but still equal using the same technique in the variation before. 4. Kf4 f5 5. Kxf5! g3 6.Kf6 Kg8 (not 6…g2?? 7. h7 g1=Q 8.h8=Q+ Qg8 and now White has to find 9. Qh6+ Ke8 10. Qe3+ Kd8 11. Qe7+ Kc8 12.Qe6+ to win.) 7. Kg6 g2 8.h7+ Kh8 9. Kh6= and the same position from before has arisen.
Now that you have seen this concept, let’s see if you can apply it for Black in this game from 2001 (Lont–van der Heijen)!
Postion 2: Black to Play
1…. h5 An easy move to find. A trade guarantees a draw. For example 2. gxh5+ Kh6 3. Kf3 Kxh5 4. f5 Kg5 5. f6 Kxf6 6. Kg4= 2.g5 h3 3.Kf3 h4 Same idea as before. Create a wall so the White king need more tempi to attack the pawns. 4.Kf2 Kf5 5.Kf1 Again, like before, 5. Kf3 Kg6= only draws. 5…Kxf4 6.g6 Kf3 7.Kg1 Kg3 8.g7 h2+ 9.Kh1 Kh3= And the draw is achieved.
This is a good idea to have in your endgame arsenal in tournaments. You never know, this could save you a half point!
Feel like I missed something? Feel free to comment below!