The Endgame Tactician: Knight vs Blocked Pawns II
To master an endgame, you must learn the general rules and you must practice them. We did the first step in Knight vs Blocked Pawns. Now we tackle the second step.
White to move. Dvoretsky, 2000. With our newfound knowledge, this position is too simple. Both 1.Nb5 and 1.Nd5 place our knight in the ideal defensive position and therefore win.
Black to move. Lugovoi-Skatchkov, St. Petersburg 1999. This position is almost as easy. Black's knight needs two moves to reach his ideal defensive square e4, and White's king needs two moves to attack the pawn. The fastest win is 1...Kb2 2.Kd5 Nd2! 3.Ke6 Ne4!
Black to move. Santurbano-Vittimberga, Imperia 2001. White's king will be able to capture the Black pawn in three moves, so Black's knight must act quickly to reach c2 in time. Both N -> f3, e1, c2 and N -> f3, d4, c2 win. Nf3 is powerful because it threatens two different wins!
Valeria Vittemberga apparently didn't know this rule, so she played 63...Nf5?? trying to centralize her knight, and blundering into a drawn ending.
You may have noticed these positions didn't have any rook pawns. Rook pawns are exceptions, and lead to a draw more often than other types of pawns.