Dangerous Passed Pawn on the 7th Rank Tactic

Here is another tactic that I got a question about via email.

This problem appears in Tactics Time Newsletter #12.

This game is between Alexander Freeman and Fred Spell, and was played at the East Coast Deli in downtown Colorado Springs in October 2009. Fred published this game in his monthly Colorado Springs Chess Night newsletter, which are really well designed.

I liked this position because white and black both have pawns that


but currently both sides are preventing that from happening. 

Try to figure out the answer for yourself, before reading the question and my response.

 It is white to move.


In the newsletter I wrote the answer as:

   I like this tactic, because white has to respond differently, but correctly based on how black plays. 
   The best move is 48. Nxd5! grabbing a pawn and threatening to queen his own pawn.
   48… Na8 49. Nxe3 catching the run away black pawn.
   48… cxd5 or exd5 49. Bxc7 followed by a8=Q
   48… Nxd5 49. a8=Q
   Nice work Alex!
   The key is to see that the black knight on c7 is preventing the pawn from queening, and getting the knight out of the way, forcefully, so the queen can pawn.  If black blocks the a pawn from queening, white simply grabs another pawn. 

Here is the question I got:


What about

48 Nxd5 e7!
49 BxN e8(Q)
50 a8(Q) Qa1+
51 K moves QxQ 


49 NxN+ Kd7
50 a8(Q) e1(Q)
51 Nb5 maybe the best shot
51 …. Qa1+
52 Na3 Qd1+
53 Kb4 Qd2+
54 Kb3 QxB with a better game.

Tim’s Response:

In the first variation you mention, 49. BxN would be a mistake.  The Bishop needs to protect the e1 square, and not allow the black pawn to queen.

For example:

48. Nxd5 e2 49. Nxc7+ Bxc7 50. a8=Q+

In the second variation, the bishop just takes the queening pawn

48. Nxd5 e2 49. Nxc7 Kd7 50. a8=Q e1=Q 51. Bxe1 :-)

Thanks for the e-mail!


Here is the complete game:

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