Stewart Zolton (1959) - Ken Ho (1806), 4 Oct 1987

Advance variation
Maine Open
Open section
50/2, secondary time controls unknown
Round 3 of 4
Board 2

An interesting pawn endgame about which I finally learned the truth over 13 years later!

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5

Prior to this game, my friend Stu (Stewart) had told me that with White against the Caro-Kann, he played the Advance variation against someone he considered to be a tough opponent. Earlier in the tournament, by using a different variation, he had defeated another friend who had played the Caro-Kann against Stu (actually, that friend is a stronger player than I am, and he also beat my Caro-Kann in the next round!). I had playfully asked Stu which variation he would play against me, since I also play the Caro-Kann. As he played 3 e5, his face suggested that after what he'd told me earlier, he felt an obligation to play the Advance against me, even if he wouldn't ordinarily have done so.

3 ... Bf5 4 Bd3 Bxd3 5 Qxd3 e6 6 Ne2 Nd7 7 O-O c5 8 c3 cxd4 9 cxd4 Ne7 10 Ng3 Nc6 11 a3 Qb6 12 Rd1 Rc8 13 Nc3 Na5 14 b4 Nc4 15 Na4 Qc6 16 Nc5 b6 17 Nxd7 Qxd7 18 Ra2 g6 19 Bg5 Bg7 20 Qf3 h6 21 Bf6 Bxf6 22 Qxf6 Rg8 23 Qf4 h5 24 Qf3 Qe7 25 Qd3 Qb7

Apparently I offered a draw here (perhaps I thought my position was unassailable?), which was declined.

26 f4 Rh8 27 Nf1 Qe7 28 Rc1 Qh4 29 g3 Qh3?

I have been lured into foolish action and have reduced my retreat possibilities. The simple 29...Qe7 retreat was preferable.

30 Qe2 Qg4??

Losing an important pawn.

31 Qxg4 hxg4 32 Ne3 Ke7 33 Nxg4 Rc7 34 Ne3 R8c8 35 R2c2 Kd8 36 Nxc4 Rxc4

Since exchanging all the rooks leads to a forced loss (though it took me over 13 years to get around to figuring that out!), keeping the rooks on with 36...dxc4 may have given somewhat better chances to draw.

37 Rxc4 Rxc4

Again, 37...dxc4 may have been better.

38 Rxc4 dxc4

While perusing Reuben Fine's Basic Chess Endings I happened upon the section describing when (two) pawns two files apart or (two) pawns three files apart can win without the support of the king. Unfortunately for me in this game, White's king can guard my c-pawn while his d-h pawns can force through two of their number which my own king cannot stop. For some years I mistakenly thought that if I had used my king more defensively to guard White's kingside pawns in this endgame I could have achieved a draw, but this is not the case. A sample line: 40...Ke7 41 g4 Kf8 42 h4 Kg7 43 f5 gxf5 44 gxf5 exf5 45 d5 f4 46 d6 Kf8 47 h5 c3 48 h6 c2 49 Kd2 f3 50 h7 Kg7 51 d7 c1Q+ 52 Kxc1 f2 53 h8Q+ Kxh8 54 d8Q+ and White wins.

39 Kf2 b5!

Making the c-pawn protected and passed is Black's best course, even if the position is a loss for him.

40 Ke2 Kc7 41 Kd2 Kc6 42 g4! Kd5 43 h4! Ke4 44 f5! exf5 45 h5! fxg4 46 hxg6 fxg6 47 e6 g3 48 e7 g2 49 e8Q+ Kf3 50 Qxg6+ Kf2 51 d5 1-0

After mutual time pressure, the time control has arrived and Black can resign.

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