Pawn Play in the Endgame
by John Grefe
Pawns play important roles in all phases of the game, but it's in the ending that it becomes obvious they are the stars of the show. The reason? Full-blown mating attacks and complex tactical battles are rare - the dominant theme is the creation and promotion of passed pawns.
The puzzles in this course can be approached individually and in any order by players who are just looking for some challenging fun. For those with a more systematic approach, the puzzles are mostly ordered from the easiest to the hardest, with similar ideas grouped together.
Many concepts crucial to successful pawn play are covered. The main ones are: 1) Types of passed pawns; 2) Good and bad pawn structures; 3) Pawns in concert with various pieces; 4) The opposition; 5) Rule of the square; 6) Zugzwang; 7) Stalemate and other drawing methods.
In some puzzles you'll practice being the attacker, in others, the defender. This means that, with best play, if you're the attacker, you can hope to win or at least draw; as the defender a draw is your aim. (In actual play things are not always so clear, but, if you can spell out what you're aiming for, it becomes easier to zero in on the correct ideas).
The types of positions you'll see here are sure to arise in your own games. If you remember how to handle them you'll enjoy chess more and score more victories.
IM John Grefe, 1973 U.S. Champion