A Fun Endgame Position to Analyze

I am starting to read GM Jonathan Hawkins’ book From Amateur to IM in which he details how he went from a club player of approximately 2000 Elo to an IM with two GM norms (and of course has been a GM for a few years now) in a span of around eight years.

Spoiler alert…he did it by learning endgames very deeply.

One of the positions from the second lesson, “A Short Introduction to Planning in the Endgame” is this one between Bent Larsen and Slavoljub Marjanovic from the Bled/Portoroz Interzonal in 1979.

Here it’s white to move.  In walking the reader through the plans for each side Hawkins makes it clear that White would like to play h5 since that will damage the Black structure in a way which will both create better squares for his knights while also loosening up the Black king a bit.

He also makes it clear that if Black plays …h5 then White’s job gets much harder.

However, there is a problem with the immediate 58.h5 for White.  That would allow Black to play 58…Ra3 and then 59…Rb7 which would likely force an exchange of rooks, and any exchange of rooks would greatly favor Black as he would be the only one left with a major piece.

So Larsen plays 58.Rd5

Here the Let’s Check feature in Chessbase shows that pretty much every engine that’s ever analyzed deeply prefers 58…h5, but instead Marjanovic played 58…R4a6.  Eventually he lost the game.

The positions after either 58.h5

Or 58.Rd5 h5

Both of these are quite useful to analyze.  I encourage you to do so!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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