Endgame Attacks, Part 2
Last week, we broached the fascinating subject of endgame attacks, which is rarely addressed in chess literature as an individual concept. Today, I would like to zero in on a particular type of endgame: queen and bishop vs. queen and knight (QBQN). The queen and knight is a fearsome tandem, whose attacking potential is simply through the roof. However, the queen and bishop are worthy counterparts, and they too are capable of regicide. QBQN endgames have received extensive coverage in endgame literature, including a sub-chapter in my book Mastering Complex Endgames. Approaching them from a purely tactical standpoint will hopefully deepen your understanding of each tandem's advantages and deficiencies.
The queen and knight complement each other perfectly in almost every way imaginable. They can attack both up close and at a distance. They are able to coordinate in an instant, making it easy to underestimate their potency. Of course, to successfully manage a queen and knight, you must be willing to calculate on every move. However, playing against this menacing tandem is frequently a rather thankless task. As the following game clearly demonstrates, one moment of negligence can have fatal consequences.
An amazing turnaround! Notice the knight's peerless ability to multitask - it simultaneously sheltered White's king from the queen's wrath and won an Oscar for Mating the King!
The knight also has the unique capacity to exploit weak squares, especially in a closed position. This is not a revelation, of course, but it is crucial to recognize that this capacity frequently plays a major role in the endgame. In the next game, Polish GM Mateusz Bartel solidifies the knight's reputation as a ruthless penetrator.
A very instructive game. As Bartel demonstrated, you should not be afraid to trade the knight for the greater good - the ultra-active queen and king, coupled with the monster on f3, rounded off the attack in textbook fashion.
After watching the queen and knight dominate with such apparent ease, you might be wondering if the queen and bishop ever stand a chance in a tactical battle. An understandable query, but I will assure you that the queen and bishop are competent attackers indeed. In the little-known but excellent work Tactical Chess Endings, GM John Nunn analyzes a particularly memorable example of the queen and bishop's attacking capability.
A lovely endgame, which can also be to train one's calculation. As you could see, the bishop played the role of supporting actor, controlling key squares and watching from afar as the queen tore down everything in her path. This ability to act from a distance is a hallmark of queen-and-bishop attacks. In our final game, which I analyzed in MCE, I was able to conduct my own attack with the queen and bishop, but committed severally instructive tactical errors along the way.
Endgames aren't so boring after all, are they? After reading these two articles, you should not expect to mate your opponent every time you reach and endgame, but you should be aware that endings - especially those involving piece tandems - are not only about positional subtleties and tedious memorization!
RELATED STUDY MATERIAL
- Check out part one of this series: Endgame Attacks;
- Watch the queen and knight tear up the town in GM Dejan Bojkov's Couples In Chess; Queen and Knight;
- Create endgame attacks in Chess Mentor;
- Sharpen your tactical edge in Tactics Trainer;
- Looking for articles with deeper analysis? Try our magazine: The Master's Bulletin.