Chess Puzzle of the Week (152): Solution

R James – PE Littlewood Islington 1976
White to play

IM and former British Champion Paul Littlewood has generously made his collected games available for publication on BritBase.

I had the white pieces against Paul in Round 5 of the Islington Open in 1976. He uncharacteristically blundered a piece in the opening and we eventually reached this position.

If you’re familiar with the way I play chess you won’t be surprised to learn that I played 24. Bb4 here, trading bishops and queens – only to discover that I didn’t have enough to win the ending.

With Paul’s king in the middle of the board, and with more attacking units, I should have kept the pieces on the board. The most convincing continuation, according to my silicon chum, is 21. Qb6 Ke7 22. Qf2 threatening Bxf6, and with something like Nc5 also coming in soon. Play the position out for yourself, against a friend or, if you don’t have any friends, against an engine, and see what happens!

I’ve drawn so many winning positions over the years by trading off from winning middle games into drawn endings, and, to be fair, I’ve also drawn a lot of lost positions when my opponents did the same thing. There’s an important lesson to be drawn from this: it isn’t always the best policy to trade off when you’re ahead. If you have more, or better placed, pieces and the ending isn’t clearly won you should keep them on the board.

You can see the complete game here.