The "Simplest" Thing in Chess (Part Four)

  • GM Gserper
  • | Apr 29, 2013

Last week we analyzed the game Koull - Stanciu where the leader of the Scotland's women Olympic team resigned in an absolutely drawn position. Unfortunately, such a case of the 'ultimate blunder' is more common in pawn endgames then you might think! All the games we are going to analyze today were played by strong chess players who completely misjudged the King and Pawn endgame. That should be another proof of how complicated these seemingly simple endgames can be.

Edgar Colle was a very strong chess Master ( see my article about him and his opening here:  Yet, in the above mentioned game he resigned in a drawn position. Yes, his h5 pawn will be lost for sure and yet it doesn't give White enough advantage to win.  Judge for yourself:

Of course, Colle's task would have been much simpler had he known the following classical game, where opponents agreed for a draw in a similar position:

This is another good example that "Knowledge is power". However, if you read this article : , you'll know that this is not always the case, as the next game illustrates:

You might ask why this variation was so obvious for Alexey Shirov? Because just 4 years before this game he had a pretty similar King and Pawn endgame against GM Vladimir Akopian:

Unfortunately, there is one tiny difference between two games.  Black's c7 pawn in the Shirov - Timman game is still alive. Both Grandmasters thought that it makes no difference since Black King cannot defend the c7 pawn while watching White f6 pawn. But it turns out that it is not true. Here is what GM Alexey Shirov wrote in the later edition of his book "Fire on Board":

 "The real difference from that game is in fact that here Black has a pawn on c7. Thus when White's king is on c6 Black puts his to d8 and there is no zugzwang since White's pawn is already on h4 and there is no way to give Black the turn. Therefore Timman simply resigned in a drawn position. This draw was discovered by an amateur from Switzerland."

I hope you, my dear readers, have learned a valuable lesson from these games. So, if you ever have a similar King and Pawn endgame (and as you could see, this type of a position is relatively common), I am sure you are not going to repeat the mistakes made by these strong Grandmasters!

to be continued...


  • 3 years ago


    Great, very instructive, thank you!! :)

  • 4 years ago


    Set up board white king d5 pawn c6 black kc8 white to move

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago

    NM Bab3s

    The user baldemorski wonders why in Shirov-Timman White can't put his king on g4 and play for h5, but for some reason he puts this in my notes instead of here. The drawback of that plan is of course that White's king is moving very far away from Black's c-pawn. Here's how Black should comfortably hold in that case.

  • 4 years ago

    GM Gserper

    Hi nebunulpecal ,

     Of course you are right, it was GM Gruenfeld who resigned, not Colle. Still it is quite amazing that one of the strongest players of his time (and the author of the Gruenfeld Defense!) resigned in an easily drawn position!

    Thank you for your correction!

    Greg Serper

  • 4 years ago


    So what color was Colle in the first game? In the article it says that Black resigned, then that Colle resigned, but the game is given as Colle - Gruenfeld.

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    GM Gserper, thank you for your series on simple pawn endgames.  I quite honestly find it helpful for myself and people at my level.

  • 4 years ago

    NM Bab3s

    @burranganesh -

    Did this make the issue more or less confusing?

  • 4 years ago


    Hi nice article Gserper

    Can u give us the variation of draw discovered by amateur (I mean on board?)

  • 4 years ago


    Great Article!!

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    "This draw was discovered by an amateur from Switzerland."

    That's the most amazing line of the article. :)

  • 4 years ago

    NM coolthing

    Wow, interesting!

  • 4 years ago


    Wow! Simple yet powerful article..Smile

  • 4 years ago


    Good article

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