The Drawing Zone, Part 2

  • Bryan Smith
  • Avg Rating: 1820
  • Endgames

In "The Drawing Zone, Part 1" we saw some examples of how to hold a draw in an inferior position. Saving a draw in the endgame may not be the most sexy part of chess, but it is still a very important element of chess ability. Now let's see some more difficult problems on the same theme.

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  • Five Hours of Work... Gone in a Second

    Chess is a cruel game, in that a player can spend an entire game building up a won position, and then throw it all away in a moment of distraction.
  • The Wisdom of the Ancients

    Some of the oldest chess analysis pertains to the endgame. Basic positions with certain pieces (not all pieces moved the same as they do today) were even analyzed in Arabic manuscripts from before the year 1000. Here we have a position published by Gioachino Greco as long ago as 1623.
  • Bogo's Blunder

    The concept of "shouldering" is fundamental in endings with a passed pawn against a rook. Here we will learn something about this concept. Efim Bogoljubov neglected this principle in the 19th game of his 1929 World Championship match with Alexander Alekhine, costing him a half point. Let's see if you can do better!
  • A Bitter Pill for Bird

    In the London 1883 tournament, it appeared that after a long battle Henry Bird had Berthold English on the verge of defeat. Deep in the endgame, the famous "Arabian Mate" loomed. But Englisch found reserves of cleverness, and saved the game.
  • Standard Move

    In rook and pawn endings with all pawns on one wing, the result should normally be a draw, even when one player is up a pawn. Thus, 3 pawns versus two, in a normal position, should be an easy draw; as should 4 pawns versus three. The defender, however, should know some basic principles.
  • Maroczy Unbound

    Queen and pawn endings offer special drawing chances, even when a player is down material, due to the massive checking power of the queen.
  • The King Stuck in a Box

    "Howard: Yeah, I can’t be hemmed in. People try. They try to put me in a box, but I break free. Vince: Who’s trying to put you in a box?" - "The Mighty Boosh".
  • The Knight Watch

    Defense in the endgame is a combination of the twin poles of fortress building/simplification and counterattack. Judging when you should wait and when you need to get active is the key. In this example we see both.
  • All Rook Endings Might Be Drawn

    While we all have heard the famous saying "All Rook Endings Are Drawn", we should also all know that it is not 100% true. Naturally, many rook endings are a win for one side - in the next example, we will see one. However, even when the ending is won, it can be extremely tricky. Here you need to look for the best chances for the defender.
  • The Knight is a Lonely Hunter, Part 1

    The knight against the pawn - who wins? Can the knight catch the pawn? If instead of a knight, there were a bishop, there would be no question. But the knight has to crawl laboriously across the board. Nevertheless, the most unusual piece is capable of performing miracles, catching what seems impossible to catch.
  • The Knight is a Lonely Hunter, Part 2

    The tortoise and the hare race again...this time the white king is in a good position to interfere with the knight, and it has to perform torturous maneuvers to catch the slow-moving pawn.
  • All Rook Endings Are Drawn

    At least, that is how the saying goes. Obviously not ALL rook endings are drawn, but they do tend to be more drawish than other endings. The reason is the rook's great ability to attack pawns (thus leading to their numbers being reduced) and its checking abilities. Here Black is able to draw despite being down a clear pawn.
  • Getting Closer

    Chess is not only a game of high-level strategy. Some of it involves pure human common sense. For example, when your opponent has a passed pawn, try to bring your king over to stop it or block it.
  • Jansa's Clever Trick

    Saving a game is not just about trying to find the right move, but sometimes - especially when the position is objectively lost - it requires you to find the way to set your opponent the most problems.
  • House of Pawns

    When both players have their pawn chains fixed on the same color as the opponent's bishop, things can get tricky.
  • Passively-Aggressive Defense

    Defense in rook endings often requires a type of "passive aggression" - the defending side must mark time while the threat of a counterattack holds the superior side at bay.
  • Tricky Bronstein

    Resourcefulness in desperate positions can go a long way. It is never time to relax, even when the position seems completely won.
  • Another Brick in the Wall

    Bishops and knights each have their peculiar advantages in the endgame. Knights are particularly good at building fortresses, especially when playing against bishops. The bishop only operates on one color, so a knight or king ensconced on a square of the other color can form an impenetrable barrier.
  • "Like Bishops of Opposite Colors"

    Boris Spassky said, after his divorce, that he and his wife had become "like bishops of opposite colors". One sees what the other doesn't. In the endgame (in chess) this often means that passed pawns are hard to advance, leading to an extreme drawish nature.
  • Study-like Defense

    Studies - also known as etudes - are composed positions, created for art and to show some idea in a pure form. You can find many of them on tactics trainer here on Chess.com. But it is a rare event when a practical game looks like a study, with everything coming together perfectly.

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