The Dauton/Steckner Position

Those who obsess about these things will know the famous Steckner idea in this theoretical endgame position:

Here endgame theory was revolutionised by Steckner’s discovery that after 1.Kd4 Rxf2 2.Rc7 Ra2 3.a7 Kf5 White plays the brilliant 4.Kc4!!

The idea is that 4…Kg4 5.Kb3! leads to a win for White.

In Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual version 4 from 2011 (and later on Forward Chess) 1…Rxf2 is the only move mentioned and it is believed that White is winning. However, a very complicated draw was found by Poghosyan starting with 1…g5 2.Kd5 g4. See here for the details (and there is a lot of them).

Looking at this position recently I think I found a simple way to draw:

2…Kg6!? with the idea …f6, …Kf5 and counterplay. I cannot see how White can improve his position. Are there anyone who has an opinion on such things? Maybe there is a chance to analyse it a bit deeper?

22 thoughts on “The Dauton/Steckner Position”

  1. You know this ending occurred in the 4NCL game Adair-Smerdon at the weekend? A very important game for deciding fourth place in one pool and hence qualifying for the championship pool (which we didn’t; that’s why I noticed).

  2. From a very first and shallow look at the position it seems indeed that this is a draw, but there are always unexpected and well hidden resources in this kind of things that only deep analysis can show the truth.

  3. @John Hartmann
    No, I was looking at it independently of the endgame book. I do not really have any analysis. I have failed to find a plan for White! I had some line with 3.f3, but it really looked awful.

    Any idea for White would be welcome.

  4. I let Stockfish (with TB) evaluate the position after 1.Kd4 -> 0.0 with your plan of Kg6 and f6 as the main line- so i guess it is a draw after all.

  5. It was for the training group, but I tried to do my work properly for once; trying to understand what I was to teach! With four of the six players in the training group being over 2600 it turned out to be a really good idea!

  6. I don’t know the genesis of all this work but i won’t be surprised if it were the 2002 Gurevich-Glek game with Mischa playing Kb3

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  8. I have been steadily working through Jacob’s excellent book “Thinking Inside The Box” but was astonished, having just reached page 353, to see him criticise the late great Mark Dvoretsky for allegedly not analysing the Steckner position properly in the 4th edition of his Endgame Manual (2014).
    I have the English edition of that book, published by Russell Enterprises. On the contrary, after showing the old line starting 1 Kd4 Rxf2? on pages 203-204, Dvoretsky then did indeed examine Pogosyan’s improvement 1…g5!! (“a rare omission” according to Jacob’s book page 353) and the analysis continues to page 210.
    I can only imagine that when Jacob wrote what he did in this blog in 2014, he was actually looking either at the 3rd or another language version of the 4th edition, and then he didn’t go back to check this when writing the book in 2017.
    It’s a great shame and if there is a second edition of Thinking Inside The Box, Jacob will definitely need to rewrite this part.

  9. @Tim Harding
    Hi Tim,

    Yes, this is a case of me actually telling Mark about this 1…g5! move, him including it in the subsequent edition, if my mind serves me correctly. Or maybe I just messed up. Parts of Box has been written over years and of course I entirely blame the proof reader for not checking if I had the reference correctly. A rewrite for any future edition, if one will exist, is definitely in order :-).

    Thanks, Jacob

  10. To be fair to Jacob his column was written in March 14 but the 4th edition wasn’t published till Dec 14. He even alludes to it being the 2011 edition. Jacob may be godlike but he has yet to master time travel.

  11. Johnnyboy :
    To be fair to Jacob his column was written in March 14 but the 4th edition wasn’t published till Dec 14. He even alludes to it being the 2011 edition. Jacob may be godlike but he has yet to master time travel.

    Tim was referring to Jacob’s book “Thinking inside the box”, that was published later, but didn’t recheck the verdict of the 2014 column. The latter was obviously correct at that time.

  12. Reyk

    Yes that’s true but his training session that he refers to in TOTB obviously had the earlier edition. Jacob was unaware the new edition had changed but it seems that the older edition being incorrect made it more challenging. As far as I know Jacob’s Kg6 idea still holds up as well.

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