Under Promotion

When a pawn marches to the last rank, usually it gets promoted to queen. It is quite natural to do this as the queen is the most powerful among all the pieces. However there are times that the pawn may be promoted to other pieces, especially knight that could win or save a game. Most popular amongst all the reasons for doing this is the immediate gain of tempo using a check or a threat. A few examples are given below. You may use your imagination and creative skills to list various cases, where it is advantageous to under promote.

Sloth,J (2200) - Bjerre,T (2320) [A01]
DEN-ch Hjorring, 1971

31...Qxe6 restricting White with one good move to choose from the unusual under promotion as in the text or 32.Bb2 to stop the Black queen and rook dominating. [31...Kg6 extends the mate by a couple of moves but offers White whole heap of good moves to choose from! 32.Qe8+ Qxe8 33.dxe8Q+ Kh6 34.Bxg7+ Kxg7 35.Qf7+ Kh6 36.Qf6+ Kh5 37.Bf7+ Kg4 38.f3# ]

[If 32.d8Q natural move loses to 32...Qe1+ 33.Kc2 Qb1+ 34.Kc3 Rc1+ 35.Kd2 Rd1+ 36.Kc3 Qxd3+ 37.Kb2 Rb1+ 38.Ka2 Qb3# both White Queens have been made as helpless spectators!] Black resigned as

32...Kg6 33.Qxe6+
[forking with 33.Nxe6 Kh6 34.Qe8 g6 35.Qf8+ Kh5 36.Qc5+ Kg4 37.Qg5# ]

33...Kh5 34.Qf5+ g5 35.Qxh7+ Kg4 36.f3#
Checkmate by a pawn! 1-0

Parameswaran,T (2390) - Ravi,L (2390) [D03]
IND-ch Kasaragod, 1996

32...Rch8 33.d8N+ [33.d8Q promoting to queen leads to draw with many chances to slip in to defeat! 33...Rh1+ 34.Kf2 R1h2+ 35.Ke1 (NO..no.. is 35.Ke3 R8h3+ 36.Kxe4 Re2# White gets checkmated!) 35...Rh1+ 36.Ke2 (Again not 36.Kd2 Rxd8+ 37.Ke2 Rhxd1 38.Rxd1 Rxd1 39.axb7 Rd8 Black wins instead!) 36...R1h2+ leads to repeating moves and hence DRAW!]

[33...Kxc5 might have given better chances than the text, but then again, this was not a friendly game!]

34.axb7 Rxg4+ 35.Kf2 Rh2+ 36.Ke3 Rh3+ 37.Kd2 Kc4 38.b3+ Kd4 39.Ne6+ Kd5 1-0

Lamprecht,F (2395) - Petrosian,S (2375) [A57]
Hamburg IM Hamburg, 17.01.1999

29...Qh4 moving the Queen away from the action is inferior to several other moves but it offers a chance for White to commit a mistake!

[If 30.d8Q Promoting to a queen, 30...Qxf2+ 31.Kh1 Qf3+ 32.Kg1 Rxg4# White loses instead in spite of having more wood on the board!; If 30.Qe8+ Kg7 offers tough resistence.; If 30.f3 Rxg4+ 31.Kh1 wins for White (NOT 31.fxg4 Qxg4+ 32.Kf2 Qf4+ 33.Ke2 Qe5+ 34.Kf3 Qf5+ 35.Ke3 Qe5+ 36.Kd2 Qd4+ 37.Kc2 Qxc4+ leading to perpetual check and Black gets away with a draw!) ]

30...Kf6 31.Qxe6+ Kg5 32.Qe7+
[32.Rd5+ Kh6 33.Rh5+ pawn at g6 is pinned! 33...Qxh5 34.gxh5 wins as well.]

32...Rf6 33.Nf7+ Kxg4 34.Qe2+ Kf4 35.Qe3+ Kg4 36.Nh6+
[36.h3+ Qxh3 37.Qg5+ Kf3 38.Rd3+ Ke4 39.Qd5+ Kf4 40.Qe5+ Kg4 41.Qg5# ]

36...Kh5 37.Rd5+ g5 38.Ng8 Rf7 39.Qe2+ 1-0

Danielsen,H (2165) - Aagaard,J (2399) [B49]
Aktiv Alliancen op Taastrup, 11.02.1999

28.Qe3 d2
you can see the tempo that will be gained by under promotion to a knight and the subsequent fork!

discovered check!

29...Kh8 30.Qxc3 d1N+
[30...d1Q 31.Qd3 Qxd3 32.cxd3 is much inferior to the text.]

31.Ke2 Nxc3+ 32.Kd3 b4
Black is a piece ahead and this compensates the weakness of his remotely placed King! The rest of the game is endgame technique.

33.Kd4 g5 34.Kc5 Ne4+ 35.Kb6 f5 36.Bd5 Nxd6 37.Kc7 Ne8+ 38.Kxd7 Nf6+ 39.Ke6 Nxd5 40.Kxd5 Kg7 41.Kc4 a5 42.a3 bxa3 43.Kb3 f4 44.c4 g4 45.c5 Kf7 0-1

All games on this page as PGN here

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