Yu Yangyi vs Harikrishna teaches you secrets of queen vs pawn endgame
Queen versus pawn on seventh rank endgames are pretty straight forward. You learn a few rules and you are all set to assess the result of any position. However, add one more pawn for the defending side and you will realize that the position has become extremely complicated. This is exactly what happened in the game between Yu Yangyi and Harikrishna in the fifth round of the Shenzhen Masters 2019. Harikrishna queened his pawn and Yu Yangyi pushed his pawn to the seventh rank. The endgame is extremely instructive and we analyze it in great depth for you in this article. After studying the analysis we are sure that your understanding of such endgames is bound to increase.
Queen versus pawn on seventh rank endgames are quite tricky. Mainly because a lot depends upon the file of the pawn and the position of the attacker's king. The complexity of the endgame only increases when you include a few more strategically located pawns for the defending side. Let's have a look at the endgame between Yu Yangyi and Harikrishna from the Shenzhen Masters 2019.
Let's for a few minutes imagine that there was no pawn on h3, then can Black win the position? Well, only if his king is close enough. How close is the question. There are two scenarios - the defender's king is on the short side of the pawn and the defender's king is on the long side.
Defender's king is on the short side of the pawn
Defender's king is on the long side of the pawn
Now this position is more relevant to the game Yu Yangyi vs Harikrishna because Black has to get his king closer to white's king and at the same time prevent the White pawn from queening. Let's have a look at the position once again.
Yu Yangyi vs Harikrishna
68...Qg5+ 69. Kh7 Qf6 70. Kg8 Qg6+
71. Kf8 Kb3 72.h4 Kc4
Yu Yangyi pushed his pawn to 73.h5 and this turned out to be the key mistake of the game. Quite difficult to understand why. If White wants to get rid of his h-pawn then shouldn't h5 be a logical move here? Well, it's positions like these that make chess quite difficult to understand. The right move was 73.Ke7! The important point being that after 73...Qh7 White must play...
It is important to play 74.Kf6! Yes, only this move draws because 74.Ke8? loses to Kd5! 75.f8=Q Ke6 and it is a forced mate.
Coming back to 74.Kf6, Black should still try with Qh6+ and after 75.Ke7 Qxh4+ we reach another critical position
The only move to draw the game is 76. Ke8! (Important to note that running towards the corner with 76.Kf8 loses to Qh7! Ke8 Kd5 f8=Q Ke6-+). Now for Black to continue playing for a win he must continue with 76...Qh5 77.Ke7 Qg5+ 78.Ke8 Qe5+
So what was the reason why Yu Yangyi lost this endgame? I think the most important point was to prevent the queen from coming to h7. By playing h5 White forced the black queen to h7. Had he not pushed h5 and instead extricated his king from e7 he would have been fine because because he would be in time to play Ke7-f6 in the most crucial lines when the black queen is on h7.
Here's the entire game along with analysis:
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