Transition to pawn ending

What would you play as White in the diagram position? This is a simple but instructive example of what can go wrong when a player is unsure whether or not to exchange into a pure pawn endgame. This, incidentally, is the subject of a recent book Liquidation on the Chess Board by American master Joel Benjamin.

When the 7-man endgame arose, a few moves earlier, the position is evidently destined to be a draw. The young Chinese grandmaster Yu Yangyi (Black) tried his last shot. After Black's move 73...f6-f5, his opponent had to make a crisis decision and apparently misjudged the liquidation to the king and pawn endgame, and rapidly lost the game.

(1) Hracek,Zbynek (2613) - Yu,Yangyi (2721) [B84]
European Club Cup - Open Skopje, Macedonia (4.6), 21.10.2015

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.f4 0-0 9.a4 Nc6 10.Be3 Qc7 11.Kh1 Re8 12.Bf3 Rb8 13.Qd2 Bd7 14.Qf2 Bf8 15.a5 Nxa5 16.Nxe6 Rxe6 17.Bb6 Qc4 18.Bxa5 Rbe8 19.Rad1 b5 20.e5 dxe5 21.fxe5 Rxe5 22.Nd5 Bc5 23.Nxf6+ gxf6 24.Qg3+ Rg5 25.Qc7 Bg4 26.Qc6 Re6 27.Qa8+ Kg7 28.Bd2 Bxf3 29.Qxf3 Rg6 30.Bf4 Re2 31.Rd2 Rxd2 32.Bxd2 Bd4 33.c3 Be5 34.Bf4 a5 35.g3 a4 36.Kg2 Qe6 37.Rf2 Bxf4 38.Qxf4 Rg5 39.Qf3 Re5 40.Qb7 h5 41.Qf3 Kg6 42.Qa8 Kg7 43.Qf3 Qd6 44.Kh3 Rg5 45.Qf4 Qc6 46.Rf3 b4 47.cxb4 Rg4 48.Qf5 Rxb4 49.Qxh5 Rxb2 50.Qg4+ Kf8 51.Qf5 Rb6 52.Rf4 a3 53.Qa5 Qd6 54.Ra4 Rb3 55.Qa8+ Rb8 56.Qa5 Rc8 57.Rxa3 Qe6+ 58.g4 Kg7 59.Qd2 Rh8+ 60.Kg2 Qe4+ 61.Rf3 Rxh2+ 62.Kxh2 Qxf3 This was the start of the 7-man ending which obviously should have been drawn. 63.Qd4 Kg6 64.Qc4 Qe3 65.Kg2 Qe6 66.Qf4 Qd5+ 67.Kg3 Qg5 68.Kf3 Qe5 69.Kg3 Qd5 70.Qe3 Qd6+ 71.Qf4 Qd5 72.Qe3 Qg5 73.Qf4 f5! 74.Qd6+?? A surprising blunder for a 2600+ player, although perhaps he was down to seconds on the clock. [74.Qf3 draws (as would Kf3 which transposes in most cases). 74...Qxg4+ Or 74...fxg4 transposing. (74...f6 Qf4 and Kh3 also hold the draw. 75.Qxf5+ Qxf5 76.gxf5+ Kxf5 77.Kf3 again with the opposition.) 75.Qxg4+ fxg4 76.Kxg4 and White has the opposition, so draws.] 74...Kh7!! White has no useful checks so must surrender his pawn. 75.Qd7 [75.Qf4 Qxg4+ 76.Qxg4 fxg4 77.Kxg4 Kg6 and Black takes the opposition, so wins.] 75...Qxg4+ 76.Kf2 Qf4+ 77.Kg2 Kg6 If there were no f7-pawn this ending would be a theoretical draw. The extra pawn shelters the Black king, making the wein quite comfortable. 78.Qc8 Qe4+ 79.Kf2 f4 80.Qg8+ Kf6 81.Qd8+ Kf5 82.Qc8+ Qe6 83.Qc2+ Kg5 84.Kg2 f3+ 0-1

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