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Goa GM 2018: What is Troitsky's line?

by Sagar Shah - 16/10/2018

A lot of theoretical endgames in chess are difficult to learn. One of them is the king + two knights versus king + pawn. It is a complex ending where a lot of people go wrong. In this article we explain to you this endgame with the help of a key game in the Group B of the Goa International Open Chess tournament. Also you can learn the art of calculation and imagination from Goa's first GM Anurag Mhamal. After four rounds we have eight leaders with the score of 4.0/4. They include Idani Pouya, Samvel Ter-Sahakyan, Deepan Chakkravarthy, Ziaur Rahman, Anurag Mhamal, Stany GA, Vitaly Sivuk and Sergey Kasparov. An illustrated report. 

The A-group is surely the event from which you can learn a lot because there are 22 GMs and 26 IMs and over 80 titled players fighting it out over there. But the B-group becomes interesting, especially in the final rounds, because of the money at stake. The first prize of Rs.1,40,000 for some participants can help them survive for the next few months, for some it can be a promise made to their parents that I will bring some money home, for some it is a gateway to a better livelihood. And when you motivate the below - 2000 rated players in this fashion, what you get is good quality play which is much higher than their Elo.

Rk.SNo NameTypsexFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 Krtg+/-
Kadav OmkarIND1859MAH8,00,050,554,548,2572050,8
Vijay KumarIND1915HP8,00,049,554,046,5082035,2
Katiyar PrashantIND1800UP8,00,048,552,546,7572057,0
Singh Soram RahulIND1945ASSM7,50,048,553,543,0072016,2
Rishabh NishadIND1874UP7,50,048,551,040,5072016,0
Safarov DoniorUZB1920UZB7,50,044,549,041,257203,2
Karthik Gopal GIND1810AP7,00,051,556,041,0072043,6
Raghavendra V.IND1900KAR7,00,051,055,541,2562012,4
Anwar N KIND1764KER7,00,049,554,041,2562040,2
CMSharma PankajIND1947PUN7,00,049,053,539,25620-2,2
Srikanth K.IND1934AF7,00,048,553,540,006202,4
Patil HarshalIND1786MAH7,00,047,051,037,7564046,0
Sahil DhawanIND1740HAR7,00,046,550,037,5072042,8
Lakshmi Krishna Bhushan DIND1982AP7,00,046,548,535,75520-4,4
Ajay Kumar RaiIND1870DEL7,00,046,049,538,0052011,8
WFMPotluri SupreethawIND1851AP7,00,045,547,533,007408,4
Santoshkashyap HgIND1940KAR7,00,044,047,536,25620-8,4
Binayak RathIND1719ODI7,00,042,046,036,5062015,2
Akshay AnandIND1853PUN7,00,042,045,534,755200,0

Complete standings

I would like to draw your attention to the fifth board game in the ninth round between Anwar NK of Kerala and Pankaj Sharma of Punjab.

It was a fight between two knights versus a rook

The position was drawn for quite some time, but the white player wanted to win. It's not at all easy. The two knights not only blockade the pawn but also stop the white king from entering the position. At such a point you have to be objective and tell yourself, let's make a draw and get ready for the next game. But Anwar (White) was not going to accept the draw easily. He played his rook to c5 - Rc5. Pankaj quickly moved Kf4. Now something amazing happened. Anwar was running short of time and with just five seconds left on his clock he couldn't understand what is to be done. He grabbed his rook and played Rxe5?? Of course Black simply recaptured the rook with his king and we reached the following position.

We all know that two lone knights cannot checkmate the white king. But when white has a pawn on the board, things are different. That's because stalemates would not occur. Whenever you have the white king boxed into a corner, instead of being a stalemate white will have to move his pawn and this gives Black the chance to win the game. Let's make it more clear.

Now let's imagine that it is Black's move. He plays his knight to d4. White plays Ka7 and then after Nc6+ Ka8

You would really like to move your knight from c5 to b6, but it takes a move and after Nd7, it is just a stalemate!

But imagine, if in a similar position you had a pawn on e5! 

Now when you go ...Nd4 White is not going to move his king. He will push his pawn to e6 Nc6 e7. As you can see things are now much different from what we looked at in the position without the pawn. Instead of stalemate, it is now a race of time. Can Black checkmate his opponent with the two knights before he can make a queen is the question! Well, in this regard, the great composer Troitsky came up with the Troitsky's line.

This is the Troitsky's line. But what does it mean?

It means that when white has a pawn and if it can be blocked on the line or before it, with the knight, the side with two knights can win. Let's take an example.

Will Black win this?

Impossible to calculate! But if you know Troitsky's line you can be sure that this position is drawn because the pawn on b4 is ahead of the line. It should have been back on b3 in order for Black to win. Let's take another example.

Sagar Shah vs Deepthamsh Reddy, Hyderabad 2013

This happened in one of my own games. It's very difficult to calculate. But I knew that the pawn on b6 is the guy that will help me win the game. My knight has to stay on b5 and the king and the knight have to round up the other pawns. And so after a few moves we reached the following position:

Now I knew that the pawn has been blocked on the Troitsky's line. I didn't know how to win from here. But that's the thing about these endgames. You don't need to know everything. Just knowing the evaluation is good enough for you to be able to play confidently. The fact that I knew this was winning made my task easier. I have to keep my knight on b5 as the pawn should not be allowed to advance and meanwhile I can use my other knight and king to push the black king into the corner. Seems like a tall task, but it is completely possible. Here's how the game ended:

Now let's check how the game between Anwar and Pankaj Sharma ended.

This video explains you what the Troitsky's line is and also shows you the entire game! Don't miss the end when the spectators join in to analyze!

Ziaur Rahman managed to play some inspired chess to beat Farrukh Amonatov on board two! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The game between Martyn Kravtsiv and Valeriy Neverov ended in a draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Stany continues his great form and is now on 4.0/4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

If you are looking for high quality softwares, good books and guidance in general do visit the ChessBase India shop next to the playing hall | Photo: Niklesh Jain

We are here to serve you and help you become better players in every possible way! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Anurag Mhamal, the local boy played a game that had many fluctuations but managed to come out victorious | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Anurag Mhamal holds the unique distinction of becoming the first GM from the state of Goa. In a land where there no IMs, leave alone GMs, he blazed ahead and became one of India's best players. How did he do it? In this video you get to the unleashed form of Anurag Mhamal. The way he calculates, the way he is able to see variations. Not all of them are flawless, but you understand how a GM of his calibre thinks. Anurag was kind enough to spend nearly half an hour with us and you are bound to learn a lot from him. Also do not miss his thoughts on why you should play the main lines in the opening and not always go for sidelines which he did for many years.

The expressive R.R. Laxman! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Deepan is playing some flawless chess in the tournament and is on 4.0/4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Laxman Prabhakar is 80 years old and is a true chess lover! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Laxman Khadilkar is an octogenarian who has been able to keep up his love for chess over the years! His family consists of chess players. His father, grand father and even grand uncle were chess players. His grand uncle VK Khadilkar was the first Indian to have travelled abroad for a chess tournament and had also played a 10-game match against the greatest player of that time Sultan Khan. Laxman had a career high Elo of 2156, but has played in National A and still keeps his love for chess going by attending chess tournaments at the age of 80 years! We ask him what keeps him going and at the same time what are the changes he sees in the game of chess from when he was young and now!

Another veteran who has seen many years of chess - T.V. Subramanium | Photo: Niklesh Jain

What does she know that we do not? Sonakshi Rathore by Rajasthan | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Results of round 4:

Bo.No. NameRtgClub/CityPts. ResultPts. NameRtgClub/City No.
GMNeverov Valeriy 2488UKR3 ½ - ½3 GMKravtsiv Martyn 2654UKR
GMAmonatov Farrukh 2615TJK3 0 - 13 GMRahman Ziaur 2473BAN
GMPopov Ivan 2611RUS3 0 - 13 GMKasparov Sergey 2453BLR
GMHimanshu Sharma 2444RLYS3 0 - 13 GMIdani Pouya 2588IRI
GMLaxman R.R. 2443ICF3 ½ - ½3 GMMalakhatko Vadim 2552BEL
IMDas Sayantan 2425WB3 0 - 13 GMTer-Sahakyan Samvel 2547ARM
GMSivuk Vitaly 2545UKR3 1 - 03 IMRakesh Kumar Jena 2388ODI
Pranav V 2263TN3 0 - 13 GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J. 2540ICF
Venkata Ramana J 2086TEL3 0 - 13 IMStany G.A. 2502AAI
GMAnurag Mhamal 2495GOA3 1 - 03 FMDeshpande Aniruddha 2213MAH

Rankings after round 4

Rk.SNo NamesexFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4  TB5 Krtg+/-
GMIdani PouyaIRI2588IRI4,00,08,511,011,004106,7
GMTer-Sahakyan SamvelARM2547ARM4,00,08,010,010,004106,9
GMDeepan Chakkravarthy J.IND2540ICF4,00,08,010,010,004105,0
GMRahman ZiaurBAN2473BAN4,00,08,09,59,5041010,9
GMAnurag MhamalIND2495GOA4,00,08,08,58,504105,4
IMStany G.A.IND2502AAI4,00,07,59,59,504104,5
GMKasparov SergeyBLR2453BLR4,00,07,59,59,5041011,3
GMSivuk VitalyUKR2545UKR4,00,07,59,09,004106,3
GMKravtsiv MartynUKR2654UKR3,50,09,011,09,253101,1
GMLaxman R.R.IND2443ICF3,50,09,011,09,253105,6
GMMalakhatko VadimBEL2552BEL3,50,08,510,58,753102,3
GMNeverov ValeriyUKR2488UKR3,50,08,510,58,753106,1
GMBernadskiy VitaliyUKR2547UKR3,50,08,010,08,75310-1,2
FMRajdeep SarkarIND2355WB3,50,08,010,08,503106,3
IMViani Antonio DcunhaIND2430KAR3,50,08,09,58,003101,3
IMAkash GIND2424TN3,50,08,09,07,50310-0,9
GMTukhaev AdamUKR2556UKR3,50,06,58,07,25310-0,4
GMBabujian LevonARM2456ARM3,50,06,58,07,253100,0
GMPopov IvanRUS2611RUS3,00,010,012,58,50310-3,8
GMHimanshu SharmaIND2444RLYS3,00,09,511,57,503101,1