I commented on a queen versus pawn endgame over at In Honor Of Nezhmetdinov and I’m going to seize the opportunity to refresh my endgame knowledge (most of which I’ve acquired through Jeremy Silman’s Complete Endgame Course). Previously, I posted the idea of getting the queen in front of the bishop/rook pawn. A second strategy versus the bishop/rook pawn is closing in with your king first. Since we’ve just acquired a queen, we’re tempted to check the hell out of the enemy king, somehow hoping to squeeze our queen in between the pawn and the king. But this often leads to a draw. A more promising way is to activate our king. Remember this: you can only win this kind of endgame if you can either block or snatch up the pawn immediately with your queen, or if your king is close enough to participate in the attack. In other words: whenever you play with a queen against a bishop/rook pawn on the seventh, consider the king moves. Here’s the sequence I suggested for Nez’s game; notice how White’s king does all the work while White’s queen patiently awaits her chance:
If I calculated this position accurately, then at no point can Black afford promoting his pawn because it would allow White’s queen to move in for a decisive attack thanks to the proximity of White’s king. Here are the variations I posted at Nez’s blog:
[…] I think the endgame is winning for White because White’s king’s already closing in. But it’s still tricky: After 54. … h2 (which I think is the correct move) 55. g8Q (also correct) Kf2 (what else?) White misses the winning shot 56. Kf4! If (A) 56. … h1Q 57. Qa2+ Kf1 58. Kg3! and it’s either mate or losing the queen for Black. And if (B) 56. … Kf1 57. Kg3! h1Q 58. Qc4+! or 57. … Kg1 58. Kh3+! (once again the king move wins; if the queen moves, Black has some annoying defenses by promoting his pawn to a knight) Kf1 59. Qg2+ Game over.
Edit: Ah, endgames are hard. Chesstiger made me go over my variations again. 56. … h1Q 57. Qa+ Kf1 58. Kg3? is a blunder! Instead, White must bring his queen closer: 58. Qb1+ Kg2 and the queen gets closer and closer with checks until …Qe2+ Kg1 Kg3! Also, White has an alternative plan: 56. Qh8! For variations, I refer you to the Nalimov endgame tablebase.