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The "simplest" thing in chess.

  • GM Gserper
  • | Apr 9, 2013
  • | 20757 views
  • | 49 comments

Many chess players consider a King and pawn ending the simplest form of an endgame. It explains why one of the most popular ways to convert a material or positional advantage is to go straight to the King and pawn endgame. Here is a classical example:

In the following iconic game Fischer converts his extra exchange by going to an easily winning King and pawn endgame.

This technical method is so engraved in chess player's mind that the majority of Masters and Grandmasters don't think twice when they have an opportunity to get an 'easily' winning King and pawn endgame.  The next example is a good proof:


At first it looks like a very nice example of a precise calculation.  But when I analyzed this game when I was 12 years old, I couldn't understand why White bothered to calculate that far and didn't win in literally two moves:


Only later, when I became more experienced tournament player I understood why Kotov saw a long sequence of moves that led to a winning endgame and missed a basic 2 move win. That's exactly what most chess players do! They know that there is no simpler way to win a game then proceed to a winning King and pawn endgame. As you could see in the previous example, it is a wrong way of thinking. But at least the only punishment there was that the game lasted longer.  Sometimes the consequences are more dramatic. The quest for an 'easily' won endgame once cost a chess player his whole chess career!  We'll discuss this dramatic story next week. Meanwhile, here is a position that shows how tricky a pawn endgame can be:

In this position White can capture Black g5 pawn with a check by two different ways. Looks very simple right?  Well, I am not asking you to find a win.  Just find how White can make a draw in this position.  Believe me, it is a very difficult task!
I'll show the solution next week.  Enjoy!

Comments


  • 19 months ago

    wabal

    @prismwinter, you missed kg2, g4!!. Maybe it's better to analyse the rest yourself to learn something :)

  • 20 months ago

    Martin0

    I bet everyone forgot I showed the correct line in post #4 Tongue Out

  • 20 months ago

    diogens

    shedrin my line with the help of Houdini, was as accurate as    JamesBoundage  line. So I think IMHO I also deserve a recognition            

  • 20 months ago

    shedrin

    Also is correct the line by Elsavador73 as explained by Martin0 Foot in Mouth

  • 20 months ago

    shedrin

    Guys, the correct line was shown by JamesBoundage, is amazing! Cool

  • 20 months ago

    diogens

  • 20 months ago

    charliecrush

    Can't wait until the next topic!

  • 20 months ago

    kcbishal

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 21 months ago

    Ironknight777

    excellent article...

  • 21 months ago

    Martin0

    @erosll, I mentioned earlier that you need to think in terms of key squares than only opposition. The king is already at the key square when capturing the pawn in your line, so opposition will not matter. The lines by Elsavador73 and JamesBoundage are correct.



  • 21 months ago

    ErosII

    Maybe you don't even need to jettison the g pawn, hxg5+, kh5. Then kg1. The key is that when the enemy king takes the pawn on f4, you are ready to step onto f2 with your king, taking the opposition, the resulting king + pawn v king is drawn, black can't make progress.

     

    So after kg1, kg4, kg2, (kf4, kf2).

     

    If the king doesn't go after the f pawn, then it's a draw, just wait around.

     

    PS these g6 lines I don't think are accurate, what about Kxg6 not fxg6. Then tempo moves with black's pawn should win him the opposition and a won endgame.

  • 21 months ago

    Elsavador73

    draw



  • 21 months ago

    JamesBoundage

    White invariably loses both pawns. The road to draw is to draw (no pun intended) black's f-pawn forward, thus allowing white to gain the opposition.

  • 21 months ago

    JamesBoundage

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 21 months ago

    JamesBoundage

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 21 months ago

    sarwatali

    Very nice.Thanks

  • 21 months ago

    Martin0

    I see several people posting lines where blacks king successfully came to a key square when black is winning. Then black makes the wrong move at some point and enables white to draw. If you don't know the key squares and know how to win after getting your king to a key square you will fail these problems every time. Seriusly you should be able to master simple king+pawn vs king endings before even trying to solve problems like this.

  • 21 months ago

    L71

    Great article. 

  • 21 months ago

    bharani84

    @noobstarrr : the 5th move for black shd be 5... Kf4 instead of f4, which is a win for black. This is well known simplified king pawn end game! On the sixth move, if white plays Kg2, then black will respond with Ke3; if white plays Ke2, then black will respond with Kg3.

  • 21 months ago

    prismwinter

    I hope this analysis is correct.

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