Endgames: The Lady Ruler II

Endgames: The Lady Ruler II

| 8 | Endgames

This series of articles is designed to improve your endgame technique. Every week there is a position at the end of the article for you to play out with someone or a computer. The detailed explanation of how to get the maximum out of these exercises can be found in the first column.

 We have covered all the general piece endgames. I wonder if you were sleep-deprived and had to play an endgame, which one would you have the most trouble playing. My friend, GM Josh Friedel thinks that a sleep-deprived person’s technique will break down at the weakest point. I would like to know this weakest link so we could possible cover these endgames in more details. I think, that when you are sleep-deprived, you should stay away from knights. During the last tournament, I had a lot of school work, plus preparation for my PhD qualification exam, thus sleep was not my priority. Looking back at the games played: the blunders that cost me games were the ones where I missed a knight move. It might be just a coincidence, definitely I cannot make general rules here with few data points. It just seems to me that having a bishop is simpler from the point of view that you have to look at half of the squares compared to a knight.

Ok, we got off topic, and the topic is still the same – queen endgames. This time maybe the position was less complex or maybe we were more queen-endgame savvy but the analysis and the games turned out to be more constructive. And we were able to extract some generally useful ideas from playing out this position.

The first game features a straight-forward and rather brutal approach to this endgame. I can call it “let me grab all the pawns and run away from perpetual check”. This approach has to be checked first before looking at more sophisticated and creative solutions. White can take the a6 and e4 pawns, giving up only the h6 pawn. Having an outside passed pawn is a great advantage for white but there is a disadvantage in this position: his open king. For example, black can threaten perpetual along the diagonal c1-h6 at the same as he attacks the a-pawn. It would be hard for the white queen to multitask.


The game turned out to be beneficial in understanding where the base of the endgame lies. The following ideas best summarize the first game:

-          Having an extra a- pawn that is not advanced yet to the 6th rank is not sufficient for a win. This is so because black blocks the pawn with the queen. In order to unblock it white must put the queen on b6. After the white queen leaves the center, black will give a perpetual.

-          White does not have to rush to push the a – pawn. Centralizing the queen is more important.

-          Black's e-pawn is useless, white should not even spend time on taking it. On the other hand, the h6-pawn is rather valuable for white, so white might look for ideas preserving the pawn.

Not surprisingly in the next game white took the a6-pawn right away. I had to defend as black but it seems to me that in the previous game we uncovered more attacking resources and very few defensive ones. One more idea from the previous game is that black can hide the king on h6 where it will feel secure. Now, that I look back at the next game it seems to me that black was lacking just one tempo. Black never got a chance to block the pawn on a5. When the pawn advanced to a6 it might have been too late. It still looks like the game was close and I would not be surprised if some of the readers will find the way to save the game. So, here is game 2:


The second game proved to be saturated with ideas that are built on the ideas mentioned above.  

-          Using the time that the black queen was stuck at the edge of the board white covered the c1-square with the queen while pushing the a-pawn forward.

-          At the first good moment black should try pushing e3, usually the moment doesn’t come because of checks with the white queen and defending the a-pawn with the queen as well as taking on e3 with either queen or pawn.

-          Black can create some mating threats with g5 ideas.

-          Once the pawn is advanced to a6 and black pushed forward g5 (taking away the h6-square as a black king shield), then white can safely march the king to the queenside and towards the last rank.

It felt right after the second game to assume that this might be one of the correct ideas of how to play this endgame. In reality, the endgames that are rather dull or not original do not usually get to be in Endgames Informant. So, one can always expect some creative solution. Interestingly enough, the idea that happened in the actual game was mentioned among the ideas listed after the first of our game. Could you figure out which idea we have not tried with these two games?  

Right, keeping the pawn on h6. I think if we played the 3rd game this would be the idea to test out.


The position for the next week.

It is black to move!

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