My Investigations #3: Fortress

My Investigations #3: Fortress

IM vinniethepooh

The fortress is an endgame drawing technique in which the inferior side sets up a zone of protection which the opponent king cannot penetrate. Dealing with a fortress, especially when you have a significant material advantage can be an infuriating experience.

Hey guys, welcome back to the third "My Investigations". What we will be talking about is a fortress. It is a passive defense technique where the inferior side sets up a position from which it is not at all easy to make progress for the stronger side.

This defensive method can be efficient if using preventive thinking you understand that the attacker is not able to make any progress and passive defense would be good enough to hold the position.

Application of this method in middlegame can be very risky as your preventive thinking skill must be on a very high level to determine your opponent’s real threats and his evolution expertly.

Impenetrable Fortresses commonly have a few characteristics:

  • The opponent king has no way to penetrate.
  • Useful pawn breakthroughs are not possible.
  • Zugzwang positions cannot be forced, since the defender has waiting moves available.

This is one of the well-known fortress. White's king feels very safe in the corner, since the bishop and knight control all squares of penetration of Black's king. The queen alone can't do anything.. White's king just moves back and forth.

This example is quite illustrative for the idea using opponent's 'bad bishop' in order to create fortress. 

This is a famous puzzle, but quite instructive.

The impenetrability of fortresses is usually determined by the positioning of the kings or by the distance between weaknesses in the weaker side’s position.

Breaking fortresses:

  • Knights are usually better pieces to get rid of fortresses as they can jump around and attack pawns of any colour in contrast with the bishop who will simply be able to do nothing if the weaknesses are fixed in its opposite colour.
  • A piece can be sacrificed for a number of pawns to get pawn general advance!
  • Getting rid of pawns to create open files for rooks.
  • Using Zugzwang to force a concession.

Let's see a couple of really nice examples of breaking fortresses:

If you want to know the secret to the mastering of positional play:

Have a look at My Investigations #1 here: 

Have a look at My Investigations #2 here:

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