The Endgame Tactician: King & Pawn vs King

Sep 4, 2007, 3:43 PM |
King vs King & Pawn is a simple ending, so why am I covering it? Some fellow bloggers are just learning it. Also, some players rely completely on maxims such as:

"In K vs. K+P endings move the defending King straight back and straight in front of the pawn no matter what. If the opposing King steps up to the left or right of the pawn, the defending King moves right in front of the opposing King."

White to move. Azmaiparashvili-Lechtynsky, Albena 1984. Quick! Can you find a move that allows White to draw this position?

White to move. Salom-Knoblauch, Vitoria 2003. Quick! Can you find White's best attempt at a draw in this position?

White to move. Madl-Titz, Eger 1988. Quick! Is this position won or drawn?

For the record, my favorite rule for this ending is taught by Karsten Mueller. He teaches that if you happen to have any two of the following, you win:

    1. King in front of pawn
    2. The opposition
    3. King on the sixth rank

He also analyzes several instructive positions. Now, we return to today's problems:

1. Azmaiparashvili-Lechtynsky, Albena 1984. 1.Kg1! Kg4 2.Kg2= (1...Kf4 2.Kf2=). All other moves lose because they allow Black's king to get in front of his pawn with the opposition.

2. Salom-Knoblauch, Vitoria 2003. White drew with 61. Kh2! g3+? 62. Kh1 Kg4 63. Kg2 1/2-1/2. Note, 61.Kh2 doesn't guarantee a draw, but it gives Black chances to go wrong.

3. Madl-Titz, Eger 1988. It's won. The game continued 62.g6! Ke8 63.Ke6 1-0. The continuation would have been 63...Kf8 64.Kf6 Kg8 65.g7! 1-0.