Friday, September 30, 2011

Prospect v. Conant: Putting the Horse in the Corral

The third veteran to come through in the Conant match was sophomore Mike Monsen on 2nd Board. Although tactically a little rusty from the summer layoff, Mike played a very solid game positionally. The ending from the game provides a good example of the way that a bishop can dominate a knight in an ending.

While watching the game, I liked the idea of taking the c1 square away from the Black knight with 41.Be3 when Black will be forced to give up a pawn to extract his knight with either 41...c5 42.Kc3 Na5 43.Bxc5 or 41...b5 42.cxb5 cxb5 43.Kc3 Na5 44.Kb4 Nc4 45.Bd4 Nd6 46.Kc5 Nb7+ 47.Kxb5.  The knight would be trapped after 41...Na5 42.b4 Nb3 43.Kc3 Na1 44.Kb2.

The computer indicates that 41. Kc2! is an even stronger way to confine the knight. 41...Na5 42.c5 Nc4 43.Bd4.

The only way Black can save the knight is by giving up the b-pawn. 43...b5 44.cxb6 (Don't forget en passant!) Nd6. 41.Be3 merely wins a second pawn. 41.Kc2! wins a second pawn on the 6th rank.

In the game Mike played 41.Kc3 and the Black knight managed to slip away to a secure spot via c1-e2-f4.  Happily, Mike's technique was more than sufficient to win with only one extra pawn.

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