Pawnless Endings Part 1:  KBB vs K

Pawnless Endings Part 1: KBB vs K

Oct 20, 2016, 9:14 AM |

In the previous post, where I demonstrated how to win KQ vs K + minor piece could rightly be considered Part 0 of this series.  In light of that, I would have to call the earlier post about  KNNN vs K  Part -1.   This time, I'm going to take a step back and cover the two pawnless endings that you ought to know.  KNB vs K and KBB vs K don't happen very often in practical play, and I seem to recall Jeremy Silman writing that it's a waste of time to study these endings. I disagree, and while I don't want to belabor the point, I will say that knowledge of these two endgames is fundamental to winning more difficult positions that I will take on later.


The easiest of these two is with the pair of Bishops.   If you look at the starting position below, where the black King is in the center, and White's pieces are momentarily scattered, Tablebase reveals that it's mate in 17.   So, here's what I'm going to do.  I will play  the position according to my method, and let the computer play the Tablebase moves, which means that it will play perfectly.  In the annotations, I explain a lot of what is happening.


No efficiency awards for that demonstration, since it's Tablebase + 7 from the starting point, however, it does illustrate the method.  The important strategic parts of the process are first take over the center, and second, push the defending King to the edge.  When the King lands on the edge, set up the mating net.
Let's do one more, where the King lands on the edge, but in the center two squares.  The mating net is a little different, but the timing and setup should look familiar.  In this position, it's once again mate in 17 with perfect play.  I explain some of what is happening in the annotations to the game.
And now for completeness, let's take a quick look at how to work the mating net when the defending King lands on the edge of the board closer to the corner.  The method of setting up the timing is the same, but the waiting move is a little different.
This mate isn't difficult once you understand the method, however if it's unfamiliar, it might take some practice.  Next, I'll cover KNB vs K.