Winning with stalemate #2

Winning with stalemate #2

Feb 10, 2012, 1:30 AM |

Let us start with a simple question: what is in the next diagram White's best move? What do you think? What does your chess engine say?

It is a spectaculair example of winning by playing on Zugzwang. Do you know better ones? 
Did your chess engine find the right move? I had to help my state of the art Fritz 12! That may be sounds strange to you, but is true. At first Fritz didn't find the right move, even after calculating hours. See the next image.

You can see that Fritz shows 8 variations: the 6 normal looking rook moves and 2 moves with the king. The last move is obvious no serious try for a win as it is stalemate after Kxc7. After increasing number of showed variations, Fritz also wants to show Ra8. And he is clever enough to see that it wins.
Let's look to the next diagram. White to move and win.
1.Na6xc7! Ne6xc7 2.Rb8-a8!! is the solution of the 1st diagram. The above position is mentioned in 'Capablanca vs. Lasker endgame', written by Rodrigo Moncayo. He says' is considered a case study and artistic endgame' and gives the line starting with 1.Na6xc7!
But this can't be a traditional study or problem as it has at least a second solution:
It is also certainly worthwhile to look at a 3rd variation: 1.Rc8. I guess it is a draw but with a lot of possibilties to go wrong. Hidden in one of the variations there is the next problem:
That one is not as spectaculair as the first ones. But it still more than useful. The nice first move will only cross your mind if you can use Zugzwang and know that there is something special about opposition/ key squares with pawns on the 5th line. For more information about opposition/ key squares, see for example King and pawn versus king endgame (wiki) and 100 Endgames you must know (

Lasker and Capablanca did meet each other just before the outbreak of the Great War in Berlin, where they played a rapid-transit match of ten games. Capablanca won 6½:3½, and afterwards Lasker is alleged to have said, “It is remarkable: you make no mistakes”.’ (Edward Winter, see here) The endgame arose in the post-mortem of one of those games, and must be seen as a joint composition by the two world champions. Lasker then published it in his column in Die Vossische Zeitung, apparently worded in a way that left room for him to become the loser (Tim Krabe, see here under 7. 23 June: An early claustrophobic knight). 70 years later the 2nd diagram was used for a cuban stamp on the occasion of Capablanca's birth centenary. Actually there is a small difference. White's king was on d7 and Black's knight on d5 was on e6. Result: the problem on the stamp has only one solution: 1.Nxc7! Nxc7 2.Ra8!!  Lasker published also another variation of the problem in the Die Vossische Zeitun
 which also has just one solution, like proper problems:

I've got a question:
What is in your opinion the nicest Zugzwang-combination?

wvo 10th of febr 2012. vs 1.1 tags: stalemate, Zugzwang, opposition, key squares