Queen Endgames Everyone Should Know!

Queen Endgames Everyone Should Know!

BradenLaughlin
BradenLaughlin
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15

     Endgames are undoubtedly a very important part of chess, from understanding how to convert a material advantage to key concepts such as zugzwang or opposition. But how well do you know theoretical endgames? In this blog I would like to test your knowledge of basic positions, specifically when one side has a queen and the other has a pawn one rank from promotion (the 7th or 2nd rank).

White to move, is this winning or drawn?

     After some thought I hope you have come to the correct conclusion, this position is in fact a win for white, but why is this? Let's look at the winning technique:

     In summary, the winning technique when there is a queen vs a pawn on the 7th rank is to continually check the opponents king with your queen and force the opponents king in front of their own pawn. This will give you a free move to make, which should be used in order to improve your king. The process will then repeat and the attacking side will be able to win the pawn no matter how far the attacking king was originally placed. The same can be said about central (e-file and d-file) pawns.

     We have now established that the queen vs 7th rank pawn is a win when the pawn is placed on the knight files and the central files, but what's the difference with the rook and bishop files? Lets take a look at the easier of the two, the rook file pawn:


     Blacks plan is clear. Whenever the queen is on the knight file the king can move in the front of the pawn, normally this would give white a free move allowing them to improve their king position. However, we can now see that when the king is in the corner of the board there are no legal moves for the defending side, resulting in a draw by stalemate if the attacking side tries to bring their king forward. This stalemate idea is not just relevant to the rook pawn but actually becomes an issue for the queen when facing the bishop pawn as well:

     To conclude, if the defending sides' pawn is on the knight or central files then they are losing, no matter how far the attacking sides king is from the pawn. Though if the defending sides' pawn is on the rook or bishop file, it does matter where the king is. If you are interested in seeing why the king position matters with rook and bishop pawns I recommend checking out my most recent video. I hope you enjoyed!