Dec 27, 2016, 9:19 PM 0
Above is a recent game that I played against a player of similar rankings as myself on Chess.com. As a new player I have found that checkmates are very rare in the middle game and tend to be achieved by overwhelming material advantages in the end game via promotion of pawns.
Look at move 37 above - The extra pawn I have and battled so hard for, (gained after a queen swap on move 25 give me the opening) is caught between the White and Black Rooks, the only remaining pieces on the board aside from pawns and kings. As soon as the Black rook relocated to block my pawn's advance I counted the moves needed, (aka tempo), for both kings to reach the A file - 5 for both of us, but I had first move
Moves 38 to 41 are a classic King walk - I am moving deliberately to threaten the Black rook with my King. Black responds immediately with 3 moves towards the A file, but realizes that I am ahead and gives up the chase at move 40 to try and stall with a pawn push. Note if he had kept going the continuation would have been for me to guard the white pawn with my king and then move my Rook to check the Black King away from the A file - leaving my route to the top rank free.
The game played out as expected, once I had reached the B-file I start to walk my pawn up the file, with some black interference, until it is queened on move 50 - winning the game later on with a queen/rook check.
My point here is to recognize that pawn promotions win games and passing a pawn requires that you start the process in your mind long before your opponent moves to prevent you, and especially before he gets his pawn ahead of yours and puts you in a long losing position.
Also note - that a single pawn is the difference between myself and my opponent and I took it at move 25 with the expectation that I would use it for promotion purposes later in the game. When playing equal strength opponents nothing should be wasted and everything should be fought over as hard as possible - the difference is just a single pawn, but it won me the game....