Enjoyable Efficiency – Simple Winning Ideas You Must Know, Especially When Playing Speed Chess

Enjoyable Efficiency – Simple Winning Ideas You Must Know, Especially When Playing Speed Chess

| 21 | Strategy

Professionals focus on achieving the victory in every game, while amateurs usually happy to enjoy the process, where the victory is a bonus. Mostly, the amateurs can only find time for speed chess. When I was growing up, 5 minutes per game for each player (G5) was the staple of the speed chess. These days, especially on-line, it looks like G3 is one of the favorite time controls.


First of all, I must emphasize that, in my opinion, playing speed chess is detrimental to anyone who is seriously trying to raise his/her game level. I always tell this to my students who have high aspirations. Having said that, I know that many recreational players enjoy this competition. I'm among them and play G3 chess on ICC from time to time.


One of the worst feelings I’ve experienced during these games is when I have a won Pawn endgame, often get a Queen and have one or two moves before the checkmate, yet only have seconds left, ultimately running out of time. This is especially annoying when my opponent has one helpless pawn left, hereby getting a victory (if he had no pieces left and I run out of time the game is a Draw).


I am here to share with you 2 very interesting winning ideas I’ve developed over time that are very useful in any chess game, but especially come handy in the sudden death time control with just a few seconds left.


Not only these ideas are simple and successful, but they are also elegant and efficient, thus giving you an increased moral satisfaction in addition to the full point.


The 1st situation –

A pawn endgame. You have an outside pass pawn. You either have an extra pawn, or it is a balanced position, with your opponent’s pawns on the other side immobilized, but not without a legal move. For example (from a game on ICC):


Diagram #1 White or Black to move



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


While the K-side seem to be "frozen" at the moment, White can't simply promote his b-pawn as K+P vs. K endgame is a drawn one with a proper defense. (Remove all pawns on the K-side and practice against a friend or a computer if this statement was surprising to you)


The common strategy for White is called "the outside pass-pawn strategy" - whereby White uses the b-pawn as a decoy. While the Black King wins it, the White King goes to the K-side, gobbles the pawns and transposes into a won pawn endgame. (Practice against a friend or a computer if this strategy wasn't clear to you).


"The outside pass-pawn strategy" is a must-know. It has a wide applicability and usually a sure winner, but it would take good 11-12 moves just to get the Queen and then another several moves to make a checkmate. Often you don't have the time in the sudden death time control (games on all levels, but especially blitz)


Well, I invite you to learn my favorite strategy - White simply pretends that the K-side pawns don't exist and start advancing the b-pawn. With the best defense, Black is able to reach the position on the diagram 1a and White's turn to move.


Diagram #1a White to move (after 1. Pb6-b7+ Kc8-b8)


Now, without the K-side pawns, White must give up the b-pawn or play Kb6 with the stalemate. However, we do have the pawns on the K-side and, if need be, Black has a 'suicidal' move there - Ph6-h5. All White needs to do therefore, is to play 2. Kb6, forcing Black to play 2...Ph5. After 3. Pxh5 Pg4 4. Kc6! (4. Ph6?? stalemate) Ka7 5. Kc7 Ka6 6. Pb8Q, White wins. Even more fun would have been without the White Pg3, where, after 3...Pg4, White could simply advance the h-pawn all the way to h8 with checkmate!  (I've had a few of those in blitz games)


Note - before deciding to utilize this strategy not only you need to confirm that your opponent will have at least one legal pawn move, but also that, after your planned response, he would have another move. For example, if in the diagram 1a, we remove the pawn h6 and move the White g-pawns to h2 and h3. Now, White can’t implement the ‘stalemate’ strategy as after 2. Kb6 Pg4 3. Ph4 (3. Pxg4 stalemate) Pg3! 4. Pxg3 stalemate . Even worse is 4. Ph3, as the Black g-pawn will Queen first. (Practice against a friend or a computer if this explanation wasn't clear to you)


In my next article (in a week or two), I will discuss another strategy I developed in the Queen and Pawn Endgames.


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


Replay all of the above here:













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