Enjoyable Efficiency - Part II

Enjoyable Efficiency - Part II

IM IgorKhmelnitsky
Feb 11, 2009, 12:00 AM |
6 | Endgames

This is the second and final (for now) part of the article. You can find the 1st part here. Please re-read it before continuing.

The premise of this article was to share with you two conceptual ideas that I've developed in the certain types of endgames. The objective was not only to find the way to win but also make it elegant due to the efficiency or minimal effort that was required.

The 1st situation was about the pawn endgames and you can see it in the Part 1

Here, I will show another common endgame.

The 2nd situation

The Queen vs. the rook pawn on the 7th rank supported by the King with the other pawns present.

First, take a look at this diagram. Without the h-pawn, White can't win. The Queen along can't force the Black King away from the a-pawn, While the White King isn't able to come and help due to stalemate. (Remove h-pawn and practice against a friend or a computer if this statement was surprising to you). However, the presence of the h-pawn makes all the difference. Now, White can win the a-pawn, and even (occasionally) checkmate the Black King in a few short moves. All without the help of his King.

After 1. Qb4+ Kc2 2.Qa3 Kb1 3. Qb3+, the natural 3...Ka1 is often played, as, when there are no other pawns, this move leads to Draw. However, here this natural move leads to a checkmate in two moves 4. Qc2! (4.Qxh3?? Kb1=) Ph2 5.Qc1#.

Learning this idea helped me to develop my 'efficient' strategy in Q vs. K+Ps endgames. In the above example, White didn't have any other options to win the game. But take a look at one of my recent ICC games:

White is easily winning here, no matter whose move it is. Black's strategy is to promote the a-pawn


White has at least 3 winning strategies here:

(a) A simple one, applicable in many similar endgames - gain control over the a1-square with the Queen (say after 52. Qa8) then send the K to win the Black pawns. When the new Black Queen arrives (after 52...Kb1 and 53...Pa1Q), White will give up his Queen, then promote his g-pawn.


(b) a tactical one, where White doesn't even use his K to win the h-pawn - 52. Qh8 Kb1 53. Qxh4! Pa1Q 54. Qh1+, then 55. Qxa1 and promoting the g-pawn.


Diagram 2a(c) Finally, my favorite one - White pretends that the pawns other than the a-pawn don't exist and begin assault of the a-pawn. However, the presence of the single Black pawn that can move makes all the difference. White can easily reach the position in the diagram 2a after 57. Qb3+.

Black plays 57...Ka1, which, without the

K-side pawns, would be sufficient for a draw, but here White has a sneaky 58. Qc2!! Ph3 (nothing else) 59. Qc1#

Note - the (c) strategy should work all the time, as long as the other side has a pawn move, while the other two strategies may fail or just be less efficient. (a) strategy may not work if Black has more pawns on the K-side than White. (b)-strategy is based on a concrete tactics and usually require a specific setup (like skewer) present.



I showed you two ideas that I commonly employ when the situation permits. Not only I find them efficient, but also ENJOYABLE to execute!


The list can be easily expanded with some small modifications and I welcome you to try and let me know what you find. I developed these ideas on my own by extrapolating from the tricky example I learned over the years, mainly from the studies (specially designed endgame positions). Hence, I believe that one of the best way to learn new ideas and expand your endgame skills is by solving studies. You can find them scattered in the regular endgame books, or pick a collection in a single book. I always like to carry around with me a little thin pocket book with 100 studies by Kubell, Troitsky or Rink. They are cheap and entertaining, but somewhat difficult too. You should study them with the chessboard.


Questions / comments - please contact me here. Please note, that I try, but often can't answer all of the e-mails I get.

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