After a flying start of Deurne in the Belgian interclub see my article records, people started to expect a lot for this season. Some thought the title was absolutely possible with our team. However still before new-year the dream was shattered. Defeats against the top-teams Jean Jaures and Borgerhout made an unbridgeable gap. In the second half of the season very soon nothing was left on stake for Deurne which probably explained why the results went downhill. With 3 consecutive defeats at the end of the season it ended embarrassingly. Deurne only scored 1 match-point more than the relegation zone. That is the worst possible result for Deurne in 20 years I am playing. Maybe we do have to admit that we lack young new players and the team/ club is slowly degrading. 4 years ago we were still playing in first division.
Nonetheless I played a good season myself. With 5 wins, 5 draws and only 1 defeat against the Russian grandmaster Vyacheslav Ikonnikov I was clearly the best performing player of the team and even Deurne. The 7,5/11 brought me 25 fide-points. I am satisfied with that score especially as I don't play much. Other rated games for fide I haven't played last year. On the other hand my other chess-related activities (see How much time do you spend at chess?) probably helps me to not become totally rusty. I can't compare myself with a standard inactive player just playing sporadically a game.
So my personal score was ok. Still things could've been even better if I extracted the maximum of often very nice positions in my games. After analyzing my games I realized that 5 extra half points could've been obtained with correct play. Nevertheless I have to add that finding the right moves isn't always easy at the board. We are no engines spitting out lines in just a nano-second. Some moves I missed as I lacked the time to find them. Others could be linked to an insufficient experience with the opening. Some I also think were simply too complex to calculate properly. An example of the latter was a beautiful opportunity which popped up in my game against the Dutch FM Bonno Pel. Queen-endgames are often not easy. In below position I was only able to detect the win by the assistance of an engine.
In queen-endgames part 1 I demonstrated the important role of the king in this type of endgames. Here we see another aspect of this endgame. The attacker looks for ways to transpose to an advantageous pawn-endgame. Not rarely keeping the queens on the board doesn't allow further progress so sometimes it makes sense to look for possible ways to exchange queens and enter a pure pawn-endgame. In above game I did that but only later. That allowed my opponent to avoid the pawn-endgame although technically it wasn't really mandatory. Often this is not a bad tactic if you don't trust the pawn-endgame as defending via checks is generally easier. I already mentioned this before in my article practical endgames see my comments at my endgame against Jan Gooris. Recently this was once again confirmed in the game Anish Giri - Yifan Hou played in Wijk aan Zee.
Besides Yifan already lost once in similar fashion a couple of years ago a queen-endgame against the world-champion Magnus Carlsen.
So in both cases the pawn-endgame was theoretically drawn but the number 1 of the ladies made a miscalculation. For us mere mortals it is therefore especially interesting to watch out for exchanges of the queens in this type of endgames. It can be an excellent winning try when all other normal resources dried up and the opponent is consuming its final energy-reserves.