Can you believe your eyes – this is supposed to be a draw!

Study by M. Liburkin, Bulletin Moscow – Prague, 1946. Draw!

At first sight, seems that by no stretch of imagination can White survive here.

Yet, by help of the “contacts theory”, piece coordination and the grand scheme of chess hierarchy presented before, we will be able to dissect the position into discrete elements to get an understand on what’s going on here and how a draw is possible. This might also help you assess the merits and applicability of the “contacts theory” I am speaking up for on this blog.

Take another look at this study of supreme elegance by Mark Savelevich Liburkin (1910-1953). The white pieces are not active and look totally uncoordinated, some on the edge of the board, and yes, the white b7-Knight has no way out. One of the Knights must go. It’s beyond imagination that White may hold in this position against an active black Rook and a Pawn seemingly ready to march its way to the glory, possibly supported by its monarch.

But how can White create any chances here as his position looks completely lost? Perhaps the only one may be to pose threats to the black Pawn together with a combined King’s action (at least the black King is poorly placed in the corner and out of play for now). But again, it’s still hard to imagine survival is possible here at all.

White to move and draw

1. Nf1-e3 Although attacked black Rook must lose control over some b7-Knight’s escape squares now, after

1. … Rd5-d3  double attack (C1 on our Grand scheme, or GS:C1) is established on both Knights which guarantees the prey (one of the Knights) still cannot escape.

2. Kc1-c2! Forcing the black Rook to dispatch the e3-Knight. That’s exactly what White wanted to as the b7-Knight is in a more favorable position to attack the e6-Pawn – just one move away. What kind of contact is it? Threat of attack (GS:B2)

2. … Rd3xe3 One Knight is gone – it’s martyred for the fatherland (“dlya Rodinu”, as the Russian would say…)

3. Nb7-d8!! Fantastic!

Position after 3.Nb7-d8

Now we see more clearly why White gave out the e3-Knight. The Rook is cunningly lured on the e-file (it’s the “drive-on” tactical device, GS:D2) in front of the Pawn where its mobility is reduced (GS:E2-i) and where it can be attacked.

Let’s do some anatomy and check elementary contacts (GS:B), as they always provide clue about the position:

a) the d8-Knight is attacking (GS:B1) the black Pawn,

b) the black Rook is tied down to protecting the Pawn (GS:B3) and is limited to only five squares on the e-file (e1-e5),

c) the Rook is under a threat of attack (GS:B2) from the white King which is one-move away from beginning to harass it by stepping on the d-file,

d) the black King is restricted (GS:B4) by the Knight (at b7) and tactically (at a7 and b8), which foils any attempt to get out of the corner.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 – 1669). The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632, Mauritshuis, The Hague

We finally realize the two black pieces are actually subjected to a double attack (GS:C2) consisting of the Knight’s attack (GS:B1) on the e6-Pawn, and King’s series of perpetual attacks and threats of attack (GS:B2) the Rook cannot escape as it’s tied down to protecting the e6-Pawn. This is an example of effective piece cooperation (GS:C, “the main principle that runs throughout”, Capablanca) between the King and the Knight.

In contrast, the black troops are uncoordinated and all heavily restricted which reduces their fighting potential. All this explains why, with little help of tactics (GS:D), the draw is possible!

(Now you can also see why studying endings may dramatically improve your chess as full potential of pieces and cooperation between them are lucidly expressed.)

Back to our position. The white King actually wants to be able to attack the Rook whenever it gets on e1, e2, e3, or e4 (it’s well known that King is more gifted at close-range fight than Rook). If the Rook lands on e5, the King simply steps back on the c-file from which it can keep a threat of attack (from say c3-square).

At the same time, on c3 the King is safe as it’s off of the d-file along which the Rook can strike (Re5-d5+) with a double attack winning the d8-Knight.

And lastly, with the Rook on e5, Black is entirely held down really. The Pawn is obviously blocked, but important thing is that the black King cannot get out of the corner and join the fray because of another double attack hanging in the air, this time Nd8-c6 fork (an example of tactical piece cooperation, GS:C4).

3. …Re3-e2+ If 3…e5, then 4.Nf7 maintaining the attack on the e-Pawn and the Rook is unable to avoid King’s attacks coming from the d-file, or if it leaves the e-file, the loss of the Pawn.

4. Kc2-d3 Re3-e1

5. Kd3-d2 Re1-e4

6. Kd2-d3 Re4-e5

7. Kd3-c3! This subtle move keeps the status-quo (see the comment after move 3). The Black can only try:

7. … Re5-c5 to improve his position, but after

8. Kc3-b4 is forced to turn back to e-file. DRAW!

Sheer beauty! Isn’t it?

And here’s the author of this brilliance:

Mark Savelevich Liburkin (1910-1953), a famous chess composer of studies of supreme elegance

As you’ve seen, we covered a lot of elements from the Grand scheme of hierarchy in chess.

Hope it helped increase your enjoyment of this magnificent piece of chess art.

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