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# Capablanca's pawn ending example i just can't solve

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I've been reading Capablanca's "Chess Fundamentals" and even though i am still not versed well enough in chess to successfully read that book, with  a lot of effort, much concentration, and a chess set, i can very slowly understand his examples and advices. Having said that, there is one example in the very first chapter that i just can't solve the way the author intended. Here is the example (all annotations are copied from the book):

Quote from the author after the last move:

Now it is time to go to the other side with the King, win the black pawn and Queen the single pawn. This is typical of all such endings and should be worked out by the student in this case and in similar cases which he can put up.

So the author want's us to solve it by going with the king for the a5 pawn and then queen the a4 pawn. I simply can't find the solution. I even tried against the computer here and used only hints - i simply can't find the combination which queens the a pawn

what now? how can i force his king to move away from the key squares? I do not understand endgames well enough to solve this.
I can solve it with the kingside pawns:
This seems pretty easy. But the author, as I understood him, wants the student to queen the a pawn. He even say this is common and thinks it is so simple he does not need to to give us any hints or explanations ("This is typical of all such endings and should be worked out by the student" )

What are your thoughts on this?  How to continue from the position in the second diagram so that we can queen our a pawn? Did i miss something (or maybe better - what did i miss?)?
I'd really appreciate someone who is not a beginner like me to explaining this. I'd also appreciate to hear beginners opinions, of course

> what now? how can i force his king to move away from the key squares? I do not understand endgames well enough to solve this.

g6 and you win. You can't promote the a-pawn. It's just there to keep the black king on the queenside. If he stays there, there's no way to force him out. This is indeed a typical strategy for this type of endgames.

Are you familiar with K+p vs K endgames? If you are, that should already answer your question. Rook pawns don't do well.

@porkqupine But Capablanca clearly says that we should queen the a pawn ("....win the black pawn and queen the single pawn. Thats what got me confused(i know that rook pawns don't do well, that's why i thought there is some technique for wining that position.

Another member also had a great idea - to push the g pawn and h pawn so that black king has to deal with them, and then go to take the a pawn and black king can't get there in time. Probably that's what Capablanca had in mind.

Well yeah, but after you exchange pawns on the kingside, you're also left with a single pawn there, so I dunno what Capablanca meant.

> Another member also had a great idea - to push the g pawn and h pawn so that black king has to deal with them, and then go to take the a pawn and black king can't get there in time.

Isn't that what you did? You can't control whether the black king goes to the queenside or stays. The point is he can't do both and thus you win.

The Black King is forced to stay on the king-side to stop the simple g6 from winning.  So when White goes to take the a Pawn that means Black's only chance is to chop the king-side pawns and queen his own Pawn.  The a Pawn queens long before Black can finish his only plan.

Capa just felt it entirely obvious that the black king can't follow the white king to the queenside. So obvious that he felt no need to even mention it. This is probably an error from a teaching point of view.

Thanks guys, I think you explained exactly what I did not understand. The only way to queen the a pawn is for black king to go after kingside pawns, which he would of course do or white would win with kingside pawns. Since I don’t understand endgames very well, and I know that rook pawns are tricky, I was thinking maybe there is some technique i don’t know about to win such positions as in diagram 2.

magipi wrote:

Capa just felt it entirely obvious that the black king can't follow the white king to the queenside. So obvious that he felt no need to even mention it. This is probably an error from a teaching point of view.

Probably his target audience were people who understand chess much better than I do.
“Chess Fundamentals” is a great book! Even though it’s still too hard for me, it explains all the fundamentals really well. I would recommend it to anyone!

paramechanic wrote:
magipi wrote:

Capa just felt it entirely obvious that the black king can't follow the white king to the queenside. So obvious that he felt no need to even mention it. This is probably an error from a teaching point of view.

Probably his target audience were people who understand chess much better than I do.
“Chess Fundamentals” is a great book! Even though it’s still too hard for me, it explains all the fundamentals really well. I would recommend it to anyone!

That was the chess book—the only chess book—in our house when I was a kid. I learned a lot from it, but, yeah, some of it was way over my head. Of course, he had a natural feel for the game of chess, so some considerations which were trivially obvious to him were inexplicable to non-masters.

Well, saying that the black king "obviously" should remain on the kingside isn't fair, because black loses regardless of whether he does that or not.

paramechanic wrote:
magipi wrote:

Capa just felt it entirely obvious that the black king can't follow the white king to the queenside. So obvious that he felt no need to even mention it. This is probably an error from a teaching point of view.

Probably his target audience were people who understand chess much better than I do.
“Chess Fundamentals” is a great book! Even though it’s still too hard for me, it explains all the fundamentals really well. I would recommend it to anyone!

Yeah, he's just assuming best play. With best play, the black king takes your pawns on the kingside while you queen your outside passed pawn. The idea is that the black king can't stop both sides of pawns.

AlekhineHound wrote:

Yeah, he's just assuming best play. With best play, the black king takes your pawns on the kingside while you queen your outside passed pawn. The idea is that the black king can't stop both sides of pawns.

Of course, i was silly in thinking that black king would follow white king to the other side. It's not like black is reading capablanca and knows white has to queen the a pawn.

It's fun to discuss these positions with you guys, i'll probably add some more when i run into something interesting.

Capa tried to demonstrate a methodical approach to the position, although this position is trivial- actually all eleven possible moves from the startup position are winning very easily.

Another approach would be playing directly to the queenside, without touching the g and h pawns before Black's king goes to the other side. Sample lines:

@pfren that was my conclusion in the end too - he tried to teach people how to handle all the pawn endings where you have a pawn majority on the kingside and single pawn vs single pawn on the queenside.

As I wrote before, I only posted this because I thought there is some technique to win positions like the one in diagram 2 or some simple detail which I missed. I guess my endgame understanding is getting better after all. I’m glad that I did not miss something easily spotted. I was afraid that my first post on this site would make me look dumb

paramechanic wrote:

@pfren that was my conclusion in the end too - he tried to teach people how to handle all the pawn endings where you have a pawn majority on the kingside and single pawn vs single pawn on the queenside.

As I wrote before, I only posted this because I thought there is some technique to win positions like the one in diagram 2 or some simple detail which I missed. I guess my endgame understanding is getting better after all. I’m glad that I did not miss something easily spotted. I was afraid that my first post on this site would make me look dumb

Quite the contrary, your first post made you look smart. You have no idea what a dumb post looks like...

For less than or equal 7 pieces, I think just check the tablebase because we simply don't need to reinvent the wheel. All the hard work are done by the machine. This is why @pfren commented that all 11 legal moves of White are winning. So, the best thing to learn from this position is the blunders. How to lose in this position?

Zero2Master_2030 je napisao/la:

... How to lose in this position?

I can see two ways: 1) to allow h pawn to pass 2) to allow black king to take the a pawn

i see a third one too - go with our king for the a pawn while black king takes our kingside pawns

If you are into endgame that much, I really recommend Chess Endgame Training app in android. The website behind this app is http://ecochessopeningcodes.blogspot.com/2016/01/play-chess-endgame-positions-with.html?m=1 What I love about this app are 1. Free: full content, no ad. 2. The solution is actually from tablebase, so every move is best response. This helps me learn a lot about candidate moves. 3. The endgame are listed by piece, starting with 1 pawn, then 2,3,4,5 pawns. Then go back to 1 piece + 1 pawn against one piece. Then add more pawn. The logic is perfect. So, we can completely master one piece then move onto the next, or play the same pawn set up with different piece.