Coach Dante's Endgame Crash Course! -- Pawns: Corresponding Squares & Opposition 1
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Coach Dante's Endgame Crash Course! -- Pawns: Corresponding Squares & Opposition 1

Jan 2, 2018, 2:30 PM |

In my previous blog we learned about the basic winning methods involving Key Squares.  Today I want to begin with the Key Squares' cousin, Corresponding Squares. Because Corresponding Squares are such a complex aspect of endgames I will be spreading out the information into a number of different blog posts starting with this one.

An important aspect of Corresponding Squares is the idea of Zugzwang. Zugzwang is an idea that means a player has no good move, so any move the player makes will result in a losing position.  If you are unfamiliar with Zugzwang please read the following articles involving it as it will be difficult to grasp Corresponding Squares without a solid understanding of Zugzwang.

In Dvoretsky's words, "Corresponding squares are squares of reciprocal zugzwang." For our purposes we will simplify this into our very first position covered!

After identifying the Key Squares of d6, c6, and e6 we can then take it a step further and ask ourselves "What squares allow us access to the Key Squares, and what squares for my opponent allow them access to the Key Squares?" The obvious answer is that the d7-square for Black and the d5-square for White are Corresponding Squares because they both have access to the key squares.  In the realm of Corresponding Squares we want to be the SECOND player to occupy the square in order to force our opponent into Zugzwang.  Imagine in the position Black had just played 1...Kd8-d7 by moving directly 1 square in front of the opposing King Black has taken the Opposition.

In the above position we see illustrated FOUR important ideas in our endgames!

  1. Key Squares -- The d6, c6, and e6 squares (Read my entry on Key Squares!)
  2. Zugzwang -- Whichever side is to move loses their objective!
  3. Corresponding Squares -- The d7 and d5 squares for Black and White, respectively.
  4. Opposition --  The White and Black Kings are in Direct/Close Opposition 1 square apart.

Opposition most normally occurs in the Direct/Close form where two Kings stand 1 square apart:



Or Diagonally


 Opposition relies on the Kings being an odd number of spaces separated. Direct Opposition is when the Kings are 1 square separated, as above.  Distant Opposition is when the Kings are 3 or 5 squares separated.  In our original position we see the two Kings in Direct Opposition, giving the win to whoever is NOT to move.  The squares c5 and c7, d5 and d7, and e5 and e7 are all in Opposition to one another.  Opposition in and of itself doesn't win a game, but it operates as a means to achieve or prevent an Outflanking maneuver.


On the other hand, if White is able to grab an Opposition as in the position below he can Outflank the Black King and grab hold of the Key Squares.

 A key position regarding Opposition exists in the following exercise. 

If we move the entire position over just ONE file, it turns into a theoretical win for White!

 In the 1890 study composed by Neustadtl White has to utilize the Distant Opposition in order to maintain a draw.

 We will leave Opposition where it stands today and come back tomorrow with a deeper look at converting Distant Opposition to Direct Opposition.  The two puzzles below should give you something to ponder until then, and tomorrow we will begin by analyzing and discussing the ideas behind the puzzles. Enjoy!

White's Pawns are going to fall the the Black King, but can he convert the coming Pawn-down endgame into a draw through the opposition?

Black's pesky d6-pawn controls the important e5-square. Is there a different path for White to Outflank the opponent?