The King & Pawn vs. King Endgame - The Celebrity, The Bodyguard & The Paparazzi
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The King & Pawn vs. King Endgame - The Celebrity, The Bodyguard & The Paparazzi

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We have all been there before. 

We have played an outstanding opening, traded some pieces, and capitalized on our opponent blundering a pawn somewhere in the middle game. If we continue to play accurately then we'll still be up a pawn with nothing left on the board and completely winning when it reaches the end and becomes a queen right? Wrong!

The King & Pawn vs. King endgame is by far the most famous beginner endgame that also happens to be one of the most prevalent in the realm of endgame stuff-ups. 

Having coached chess for the best part of the last decade I have made a point of discussing this endgame with all beginners in the first five lessons because of the number of players that do not understand this simple ending. It is also an important study in order to understand the concept of 'taking the opposition'.

Today I thought I would give those that cannot autonomously win this ending a fool-proof, analogic way to remember this endgame. As I say to my students, 'you will not be able to forget this process after hearing this ridiculous analogy' (Ps. this analogy works for both kids and adults).

The Celebrity, The Bodyguard, and The Paparazzi

Picture, if you will, a red carpet. The 'objective' of our hero, the 'celebrity' (the pawn/aspiring queen), is to walk from the beginning of the red carpet to the end to attend their latest movie premiere.

They have unfortunately been in the press recently for all the wrong reasons so one particularly adventurous 'Paparazzi' (the enemy king) has ventured onto the red carpet to stop our hero for a juicy interview.

Our celebrity is not without help though and has employed a hefty bodyguard (our allied king) to shield us from the paparazzi as we make our way to the end of the red carpet. 

Istock Image

The concept is simple, get the bodyguard in front of our hero and ensure that he ushers (pushes or forces, whichever word you feel) the paparazzi out of the way, clearing a path for the celebrity.

Any time the paparazzi moves directly in front of our celebrity, the bodyguard must mimick this action, taking the opposition and positioning himself face to face with the paparazzi, throwing his hands up and shouting an imaginary 'step aside'.

Once the paparazzi is forced to the side we can finally clear the path for the celebrity by moving diagonally. Notice that the bodyguard must still stay in front of the celebrity during this time until the pawn reaches the end. Should the celebrity ever be 'in line' or in front of the bodyguard, the bodyguard can no longer protect the celebrity from the paparazzi and the interview will be held ie. the game will be drawn by an eventual stalemate pattern.

Rinse and repeat the above process and you will soon find your pawn is now a queen and you can win the game!

Naturally, this analogy works far better over video but for reference, I will provide you with a winning example of this endgame below...

I hope this helps anyone who struggles to visualize this. If you are a player or a coach with any further questions about this message then flick me a message! I first began using this method in teaching around 8 years ago and have seen several prominent masters vouch for the same analogy so it is trialed and tested.

Let me know in the comments below which other endgames give you grief and I will cover them in upcoming blogs. Hope you enjoyed and see you in the next one,