Study of the Month – A Brief History of Castling II’s Final Study


OO-On the road again

Continuing where we left off in April, we’re diving back into late-game studies that involve castling. With many pioneering studies out of the way, relevant and interesting studies become less proportional to the full range of possible castling studies, but the overall frequency of those in the database increases.

We will begin with a small recall study, set a few years after our previous departure, since nothing of interest happened in our chart during this period.

Alexander Herbstman & Vladimir Korolkov, Vecherni Leningrad 1948.

White for moving and drawing

After 1.b7 B:f7+ 2.e6! Black wants to castle. But let’s look at the position in the diagram. What was Black’s last move? Certainly not with the rook on h8. But also certainly not with a pawn, or with the bishop on g8. So it had to be with the king on e8. But that means…
what does it mean when a king has already moved? Oh, yes, he can’t castle anymore! Thus, Black cannot castle next to the king, and therefore has nothing better than 2.-B:e6+ 3.Ka1 Kf7 4.b8Q K:b8 pat.

Combining castling with other themes makes sense. The following study shows how this can be done the right way:

Tigran Gorgiev, Trud 1950, commendation.

White to move and win

After 1.0-0-0+ Ke7! 2.Re2+ Ne3 3.R:e3+ Kf6 4.Rf1+ Kg5 5.Rg3+ Kh4 there are two winning moves. Can you find at least one, and also how they continue? The solution, along with all the other studies for this month, can be found as always in the replayable entries at the end of the article.

Bottlik won the 1951 Magyar Sakkélet tournament (shared 1st/2nd prize) with a study that uses too much material to show white castling on both sides. In the same year, an endgame study that I believe I have already cited once in this series of articles was first published. Just quote it again.

Jindřich Fritz, Centurini MT 1951, 1st Commendation.

White for moving and drawing

I don’t have more detailed information about this tournament, so I assume it commemorated Luigi Cavaliere Centurini (1820-1900), endgame theorist from Genoa and member of educational commissions and institutions and science. In 1865 he wrote an analysis of the “gambetto grande”, a variant of the King’s Gambit which begins with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 e:f4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4. Unfortunately the sources I find do not specify how White follows now, but we learn that the gambit was already known from Polerio in 1590. With the name “gambetto grande”, the great gambit, it seems likely that White sacrificed the knight in f3 or f7 (Polerio gambit or Allgaier gambit). It also doesn’t help that the names of the gambits change locally or over time (like the proverbial Müller Schulze gambit, or the Leipzig opening/gambit, 4.N:e5 in the game Four Knights, which has today another “horrible”, in both senses of the word, proverbial name). Perhaps a reader can provide Yours Truly with a scan of the supplement to Eco della scienza 1865 where this treatise was published? See contact details below this article.

Back to the final study. White has to be careful how he starts. 1.b7 Bc5 2.Bf4! is needed, because 2.Be5? 0-0+! would end in disaster. But what is won after 2.-Ba7 3.b6 Bb8! 4.B:b8 0-0+ which looks like an easy win for Black? How can White ensure a draw?

A systematic maneuver

Parallels between a study by Hildebrand and a famous study with systematic maneuvers, as well as another classic, can be found. This subset of three endgame studies and a preliminary outline deserves closer examination. Of course, there was a well-known schematic idea from Szaja Kozłowski. (By the way, exact life data is sought – can anyone find the date of birth in church books or administrative documents from the first half of the 20th century in Poland?)

Szaja Kozłowski, Swiat Szachowsky 1931.

White to move and win

The proof why 1.g7? don’t win takes a lot of hits, the solution 1.Rg7+! K:h8 2.Rh7+ Kg8 3.g7! is a clear example of the theme used several years later at the seventh WCCT (the World Chess Composition Tournament): the same position is repeated but with a piece of white removed, which turns out to be advantageous. From Kozlowski’s idea, two stratagems became clear: If in the final position another black pawn is on f6 and the white king is on f5, 3.-K:h7 4.g:f8R forces an underpromotion. Simply modifying the position as it is for it doesn’t work (Evgeny Dvizov tried it several years later), but already František Richter in 1933 must have known that it didn’t work when he incorporated deadlock into a modified version of the study.

Alexander Hildebrand, Springaren 1955, 1st/2nd prize.

Blacks move, whites shoot

After 1.-Rh2 pawns passed to the queenside look less threatening than the single g-pawn. Indeed, White would be completely lost if he could not castle kingside. Readers will readily find that the threat of checkmate after 2.0-0! g2 requires checks to counter, so it should be easy to spot how white is shooting now.

The author reworked his study and sent this version to another tournament.

Alexander Hildebrand, “Problem” 1957, 2nd Commendation

White to move and win

Drawing conclusions from the previous study, the now adept reader might see how White can win after the introduction 1.Th7+ Kg8 2.g7 Ta6+ when looking at small differences between configurations. Escaping chess without exposing the king to check by Rf8 is possible. But the master missed an even more elaborate setting that a young Georgian star would find nearly two decades later.

David Gurgenidze, Gantiadi 1974, 1st/2nd prize.

White to move and win

Dutch author (“Spoorloos”, translated as “The Vanishing”) and collector of chess curiosities Tim Krabbé wrote about this study in his “Schaakkuriosa” even before Yours Truly was born. Indeed here after 1.Th7+ Kg8 2.g7 Ra6+ the same idea as in the two previous studies is pushed to its limits. Humans will find it easier than computers to find the next 22 moves (!), but the final steps after that…?
(By the way, Werner Keym is one of the most avid collectors and composers of chess curiosities in Germany. He was recently the center of a curio himself, as his 80th birthday was February 22: 22/ 2/22, or in German notation 22.02.2022 – a palindrome!)

more more more

Genrikh Kasparyan, Szachy 1956, 2nd prize.

White for moving and drawing

White is advantageous in material but the passed pawn is very dangerous. There is only a small margin of error on both sides. White can only shoot while actively playing: 1.f7+ K.f7 2.Nd3! a2 saves the knight, but forces white to pile into the corner. 3.0-0+! Ke6 4.Ra1 e4! Black is playing at the highest level of chess, finding the right way to go. 5.Nb4 Ra4! 6.N:a2 Bf6! All seems lost, White apparently can only resign because there will be one less piece left. Maybe a world-class player could figure out how to draw, but even those will have to use all their imaginations, so almost all readers will want to head straight for the replayable entries. There are no tricks like “0-0-0-0-0” with a king on b1. Everything happens according to normal chess rules…

Not by the rules of chess but by the rules of psychology is a phenomenon known as “pareidolia”. Let’s try it on the chessboard.

Ernest Pogosyants & Abram Gurvich, Shakhmatnaya Moskva, November 21, 1964. Correction by Peter Krug, “Estudios Artistices de Ajedrez” 2016.

White to move and win.

You immediately notice that white can castle on the queen side. So after seeing all the previous endgame studies with castling, you know it’s going to become important…
1.Nd4 e:f3 2.Kf2!
Pareidolia! You’ve spotted the castling’s face, but it’s not there! It’s just a mirage! As a small consolation, you may land the finishing blows after 2.-f:g2 to punish Edward and his king.

Panic in the disco? No, Panecki to the discussion! His 1965 study combines castling with a pretty neat idea.

Jerzy Paneki, Szachy 1965.

White to move and win

It’s no longer pareidolia, because the only reasonable way to continue is 1.0-0 Q:g7 2.Rf3+ Kh4 3.Kg2 with the threat of checkmate on h3. Checkmate seems inevitable, so Black can only resourcefully sacrifice his dancing queen (his first move was 1.-Q:g7, so it contains “17”). She knows how to dance on c3, is this the end of her life? See this girl, watch this scene, how do you win? 3.-Qc3 leads to a stalemate if white takes c3, but is there another option? As a little hint, 4.Nf1 Qd4 (among others) leads nowhere…

It is worth noting now the international friendship team tournament. We had a whole article on this a few months ago, in reaction to my horror at seeing the war in Europe again. Just keep in mind that N. Littlewood in 1965 tried to show an end game study with en passant, castling and pawn promotion. This is the theme named after Joaquim (de) Valladao Monteiro, the task of Valladão. It would have deserved an article on its own, but there wouldn’t have been enough examples for a wide audience to benefit from it. My personal interpretation of the theme won the “König & Turm” tournament several years later and is included as a bonus study this month.

A sad truth is that not all endgame studies are correct, but often their content is worth seeing. An editor is left with the unfortunate choice of showing the incorrect study, correcting the study, or not showing it at all. I took the third option with the Littlewood study because its core was broken, but in the next study only the first shot was faulty by a second solution. The study can be saved easily either by deleting the first move or by replacing wQa8 with wPe7 in the diagram. As “Ende” means “end” in German, the name of the Dutch composer is appropriate to end this second part of the series of articles.

Johan van den Ende, Schakend Nederland 1966.

White moves and wins (see text above)

please ignore this 1.Qa5+ Kh6 2.Ne5! also wins for White, as Daniel Keith found 40 years after the study was first published. Instead, let’s look at the solution.

White has to play actively, so 1.Qe8+ Kh6 2.N:g4+! Q:g4 3.Qh8+ Kg5 4.Qg7/Qg8+ Kh5 5.Q:g4+ K:g4 is the way to do it. Having reached material equality, white can take advantage of the bad position of his opponent’s pieces. How should he proceed?

It is the end. My only friend, the end.

Let’s end this article as it began, with another musical quote. Next month we’ll probably be talking about the contemporary studies of a rather new strong composer who investigates questions like “Are we human, or are we dancers?” However, we cannot offer flowers.



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