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Guy Burns v Gordon Lyall (5 February 2019)

A tight game from Round 2 of the John and Rose Kingston Memorial played 5/2/2019. White adopted a quiet approach to the opening, which can be very effective against hyper-modern openings such as the Benoni. Typically Black has a target such as a large central pawn mass which he can attack from the sides. When there is no target, Black’s chances of counter play can be hard to find and he can end up with a cramped position, with White retaining a small initiative.

The thematic break comes with 13…b5, which opens play up on the queenside and creates some space for the black pieces. An endgame was reached with even material but black has some pressure on the White’s b3 pawn. While White’s pieces are tied to the defence of the pawn , Black activates his king to add further pressure. White attempts to generate counter play by switching the rook to a2 on move 31. However, Black’s king has become very active and is heading to c3 to put pressure on the b3 pawn and white knight. 33.Nb1 allows the white king to c2 to put pressure on the knight and white’s attempts to generate counter play with Rc7 is now too slow, after 33….Nxb3 Black’s pieces are co-ordinating well against the white king and knight. And after 35.Rb7 Nc1+ mate is unavoidable.

This was a good example of how an active king can be a real asset in the endgame. A great example of this can be seen in the brilliant game 17 from the Karpov – Korchnoi World Championship Match, 1978.