Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle

  • IM Jeremy Silman, NM Mike Arne
  • Avg Rating: 1165
  • Misc

"Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle" begins with some endgame basics and proceeds to an in-depth coverage of king and pawn endings. We have also thrown in some opening challenges.

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  • Triangulation

    Triangulation is a big word for a small concept. This concept is really about wasting a move (by making a pretty triangular pattern), so that you are able to gain the opposition. Chess players like this word, because it makes them feel very intellectual and important. Imagine telling your friends, "Today I mastered the concept of triangulation!" Sounds deceptively impressive, don't you agree? Instead, we could be saying, "Today I learned how to waste a move!"
  • Basic Draw: King and Pawn vs. King

    You have been struggling all game for a draw and suddenly have the option of trading everything off. Should you enter a position where you only have a king left vs. your opponent's king and pawn? This is something that cannot be worked out at the board; you must know if it is drawn or not by heart. In general, king and pawn vs. king is a dead draw if the defender can place his king in front of the pawn, or at least one square from it. If the defender can prevent the White king from stepping in front...
  • King & Pawn Vs King: Attacker's King in Front of Pawn

    If White gets the king in front of the pawn, he will have chances to win, depending on who owns the opposition. In the problem before us White can easily get the king in front of his pawn, so now the result depends on who has the opposition. If White can take the opposition, the result of the game should be known to you.
  • Outflanking

    This is another nonsensical looking king vs. king. However, this illustrates a point and has nothing to do with an actual game situation. The question is, how can White reach the c6, d6 or e6 squares? Black, of course, is going to attempt to stop White from accomplishing this.
  • Distant Opposition

    One can gain (or see who will get) the opposition even if the kings are a great distance apart. All is easy to understand if you understand the following two rules: 1) If there are an odd number of squares between the kings, whoever moves is at a disadvantage, since the other side will be able to get the opposition. 2) You want the move if there are an even number of squares between the kings, because then you can step forward and create a situation where there are an odd number of squares between...
  • Basic Mate: King and Two Bishops vs. King

    Two bishops can only deliver mate in a corner. Therefore you must drive the opposing king to the side of the board and force it to a corner from there. Editor's note: This is a long challenge. It is intended to illustrate one method of accomplishing the checkmate. You may already have a checkmating method that you have been using; there are many. The important thing is to have a method that you are comfortable with and that you will be able to remember when the situation arises.
  • Basic Mate: King, Bishop and Knight vs. King

    This mate is not easy at all, and even masters sometimes have trouble with it. While I don't expect you to learn how to do this from scratch, it is useful to see the final few moves so that the actual mating process can be understood. One of the keys to this checkmate is that you must chase the opposing king to a corner of the same color as your bishop. Here you have a dark squared bishop, so you must drive the king to a dark squared corner square. If you let the king escape to a light squared corner,...
  • The opening

    A chess game has three phases. The first phase is the opening. The opening of a chess game begins on the very first move and usually continues until the pieces are all out (around move ten or fifteen). Find a good first move for White.
  • Popular Opening: Ruy Lopez

    We explore the first several moves of one of the oldest openings. The Ruy Lopez, also called the Spanish Game, was mentioned by Lucena in 1490 and analyzed by Ruy Lopez (a Spanish Priest) in 1561. The Ruy Lopez has been popular for centuries. Today it is still one of the most commonly seen openings at the professional level. It requires deep positional understanding and baffles the mind of many hobby players!
  • Popular Opening: Queen's Gambit Declined

    As the Ruy Lopez is the classic response to a beginning of 1.e4 e5, the Queen's Gambit Declined is the classic response to 1.d4. Black copies White's first move with 1...d7-d5, so that he too will have a pawn in the middle.
  • Opening: King's Gambit Accepted

    We will take a look at the once very popular King's Gambit Accepted. This opening was all the rage in the 1800's, but now it is seen very rarely. However, people with fire in their blood and adventure in their hearts may enjoy giving this exciting old attacking opening a try.
  • Opening trap: The Petroff Defense

    The Petroff Defense (something that Black chooses to play) was a favorite of American Champion Frank Marshall, who somehow used this drawish opening to score many sharp victories. In general, though, the Petroff is played by Black to secure equality and a draw. It has become very popular in modern times and is known as a very sound opening choice for Black.
  • Common Junior Opening: The Giuoco Pianissimo

    This is the most common opening in Junior tournaments. The moves are simple and to the point, and Black tends to copy White; a fact that makes a kid's life easy as Black! Unfortunately, it is also very boring and after the first few moves most players no longer have any idea how to proceed!
  • Popular Opening: The Sicilian Defense

    The Sicilian Defense has become Black's most popular choice of defense against 1.e4. Rather than copy White, it immediately counterattacks by fighting for control of d4 with a wing pawn. It was a major favorite of Bobby Fischer and is also Garry Kasparov's main weapon.
  • Popular Opening: French Defense

    The French Defense is a counterattacking opening that attempts to blow the White e-pawn off the board. It was a favorite of former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik and lately a whole group of Grandmasters have taken the system to heart (Korchnoi and Vaganian are only two of many who love this line).
  • Popular Opening: Caro-Kann Defense

    The Caro-Kann Defense is a favorite of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, the late world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, and Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan and Victor Korchnoi. This solid opening seeks to calmly develop the Black forces without creating any weaknesses. Only when development is completed will Black seek counterplay.
  • All the rage: Scotch Opening

    The Scotch is an old opening that was never a really popular choice for White until Garry Kasparov dusted it off and won a game with it in his World Championship match with Anatoly Karpov. Now a common visitor on the International tournament scene, the wide open, exciting Scotch has finally gained some respect.
  • The risky Center Counter Defense

    The Center Counter is a popular opening among beginners who don't really appreciate the dangers of getting the queen out too early.
  • The King's Indian Defense

    The complicated King's Indian Defense is a favorite among aggressive players who wish to play for the win with the Black pieces. Former World Champion Bobby Fischer made his living with this opening and the present PCA World Champion, Garry Kasparov, has garnered a seemingly endless array of victories with this system as well.
  • The hypermodern Grunfeld Defense

    Though champions like Fischer and Kasparov have always preferred the King's Indian Defense, on occasion they have given the Grunfeld Defense a try. Today, largely through Kasparov's efforts, the Grunfeld has become one of the most popular Black defenses on the international scene.
  • The ever popular Nimzo-Indian Defense

    This opening was invented by the great Aaron Nimzovich in the 1920's. It has since been used at one time or another by virtually every great player worldwide. Why the popularity? Because the opening is positional and sound in nature. But it also offers sharp play and an easy development for the pieces. It would be hard to explain why such a logical opening would not be popular for Black!
  • The Queen's Indian Defense

    The Queen's Indian is what people play who want to avoid the Nimzo-Indian as White. It sets up a firm, but somewhat boring position where the play is decidedly positional and subtle in nature.
  • The positional English Opening

    At times White gets tired of the vast amount of theory that has been built up around 1.e4 and 1.d4. In an effort to avoid this endless cascade of book variations, White often plays 1.c4, the English Opening. White still hopes to achieve an opening advantage. This opening, a favorite of American Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan in his youth and often used by World Champion Garry Kasparov, starts an immediate fight for the d5-square. Black has many ways to meet the English, of course, and transpositions...
  • The Reti Opening

    The Reti Opening was an invention of Grandmaster Richard Reti, a hypermodern pioneer who insisted that the center could be controlled by pieces from a distance rather than the usual mass of central pawns. Many people didn't take his claims too seriously, until he used his opening and its theories to score a big victory over then World Champion Jose Capablanca in New York, 1924.
  • The bizarre Orangutan Opening

    The story goes that Grandmaster Saveilly Tartakower had a day off during the legendary New York 1924 tournament. In need of a change of pace, he went to the zoo. Though the animals were entertaining, he couldn't stop thinking about an unnamed opening he had been looking at. It was ugly, it was strange, it was unknown; in fact, the more he thought about it the more he liked it! It was in the middle of this train of thought that he spotted the Orangutan. Knowing a match made in heaven when he saw one,...
  • Bird's Opening

    Though it sounds like this opening was named after creatures with wings, feathers and beaks, it was actually invented and popularized by the English Master Henry Bird. This opening was never very popular, but it will be seen from time to time in international tournaments and in amateur events.
  • The strange case of Alekhine's Defense

    Alekhine's Defense was played by the great Alexander Alekhine on just a few occasions. This, however, seems to be enough to have gotten his name permanently attached to an opening that is exceptionally modern in concept and scope. Though not particularly popular, Alekhine's Defense has been championed in recent times by Grandmasters Lev Albert and Vladimir Bagirov. It was also played on occasion by Fischer, but even that stamp of approval never got the chess public interested in the system.
  • Space

    You gain space or territory by advancing your pawns. The further your pawns go, the more space you possess. In general, space is a very useful thing to have. Extra space gives your pieces lots of room to move about in, while your opponent's units usually have real trouble finding good squares to go to. At times, as in this problem, the space advantage becomes so enormous that the opponent's piece are virtually immobilized.
  • The Beginnings of Space

    The battle for space starts on the very first move since starting pawn thrusts like 1.e4, 1.d4 or 1.c4 all claim the territory that lies behind these pawns. At times one side may get extra space in one area of the board, for example on the queenside, while the other side claims the rest of the board (the kingside and center) for its own pieces.
  • Good Doubled Pawns

    A doubled pawn is generally a weakness only if the lead pawn (the pawn closest to the opponent's position and thus the easiest pawn for the opponent to attack) cannot be defended by another pawn. If this lead pawn is safe, then two factors may make a doubled pawn a useful thing to own. 1) A doubled pawn usually gives its owner an open file to use for the rooks; 2) Doubled central pawns give their owner increased control of critical central squares.
  • Bad Doubled Pawns

    Doubled pawns tend to be a bit loose if the lead pawn cannot be defended by another friendly pawn. In the present position White's lead doubled pawn has no other pawn that can defend it.
  • Pawn Chains

    After the well known opening moves in a French Defense 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 we get our main position. White has a nice pawn chain (a line of pawns connected diagonally) that potentially stretches from b2 to e5. Black's pawn chain stretches from f7 to d5. The most basic rule associated with a pawn chain is "always attack a pawn chain at its base!" Why? Because the base pawn is the only pawn in the chain that cannot be protected by another pawn. Therefore it represents the weak link in an otherwise...
  • Development

    The most basic idea of the opening, or the beginning phase of a chess game, is to develop all your pieces so that they are ready to form a good team and can outplay the opponent's forces. If you leave them on their original squares you may find yourself outnumbered later in the game by a superior force. This does not necessarily mean that you have less material than your opponent, it simply means that you would have fewer pieces in the area where the action is taking place. This leads us to the following...
  • Development, time and tempo

    Development, time and tempo are all closely related and often are just different words for the same thing. Development means moving your pieces from their beginning positions to active central posts. Time means using your move to accomplish some goal, the development of a piece or the correct conduct of an attack. For example, if you waste a move by using only one or two pieces over and over again in the opening, you will be chastened for wasting time. The same phenomena in the middlegame might be...
  • Silman's Pawn Pointing Theory

    When the center is locked up by pawns leading to a closed position, both sides must seek their play on the wings. To determine which wing you should play on, ask yourself which way your pawns point. Start aggressive action in that direction by advancing your wing pawns in that area. Why attack with pawns instead of just pieces? Because in a closed position the pieces have trouble breaking through into the opponent's camp. By advancing your pawns first, you gain space in that area and open files,...
  • Basic Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what the opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • Distant Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of distant opposition the Kings can stand on opposite parts of the board. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without...
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • Basic Triangulation

    This is a problem designed to teach you the concept of basic triangulation. Triangulation is one of those big words chess players love to use to describe a concept that is very, very simple. By using such a big word, we chess players look like super brains to the rest of the world. Just imagine: You are sitting at a table going through a chess book and a friend asks you what you are doing. What answer is more impressive? "Oh, I'm studying a simple idea in King and pawn endgames.", or, "Oh, I'm doing...
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • Outside Passed Pawn

    Though material is even, White wins easily because he owns the outside passed pawn. An outside passed pawn is the passed pawn furthest away from the rest of the forces. The idea behind an outside passed pawn is simple: its owner will push it in a sacrificial rush and force the enemy King to run after it. While it is being hunted down the attacker's King will eat the enemy passed pawn (the one closer to the main force) and then bring his King into the hen house for one final meal. In short, the...
  • The Square of the Pawn

    Sometimes a game comes down to a simple race between a King and a pawn. Can the King stop the pawn from promoting? Is a long calculation necessary to figure out the answer? It turns out that a glance is all you need to tell whether a King can or can not stop a pawn. This problem shows you how to do it.
  • Outside Passed Pawn

    Though material is even, White wins easily because he owns the outside passed pawn. An outside passed pawn is the passed pawn furthest away from the rest of the forces. The idea behind an outside passed pawn is simple: its owner will push it in a sacrificial rush and force the enemy King to run after it. While it is being hunted down the attacker's King will eat the enemy passed pawn (the one closer to the main force) and then bring his King into the hen house for one final meal. In short, the...
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and Rook pawn versus King

    Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board. Known as being very drawish in nature, this position is certainly no exception. The game is a draw no matter who is to move, though for simplicity's sake we give the move to Black.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions, White can win if his King is in front of his pawn and if he owns the opposition. In the present position Black thinks he has the opposition and hopes to draw because of this. What's the truth?
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • Black's King reaches f1, g1 or h1 by force!

    It may seem silly to have a battle between two Kings but this is actually a very difficult problem which even strong masters have trouble solving. Black wants to legally (meaning that the square is not defended by the White King) land on either f1, g1 or h1. White will try to stop him! Believe it or not, Black can force his way to one of those squares in 17 moves! When you learn to solve this problem you will become a master of the King! This will help you in all phases of the game and infinitely...
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Basic Triangulation

    This is a problem designed to teach you the concept of basic triangulation. Triangulation is one of those big words chess players love to use to describe a concept that is very, very simple. By using such a big word, we chess players look like super brains to the rest of the world. Just imagine: You are sitting at a table going through a chess book and a friend asks you what you are doing. What answer is more impressive? "Oh, I'm studying a simple idea in King and pawn endgames.", or, "Oh, I'm doing...
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are very far apart and this distance gives White the time to get his own King in front of his pawn. This follows the rule which states: With King and pawn versus King, the side with the extra pawn can only win if his King can get in front of his pawn and if he retains opposition after doing so. If you don't have a full command of distant opposition you will need to review Variation One.
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are far apart and the result of the game depends on who can get their King in front of the White pawn and retain opposition after doing so. White to move is an easy win for the first player (and is explored in another problem) but Black to move changes everything. How can Black draw?
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are far apart and the result of the game depends on who can get their King in front of the White pawn and retain opposition after doing so. White to move is an easy win for the first player (and is explored in another problem) but Black to move changes everything. How can Black draw?
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are very far apart and this distance gives White the time to get his own King in front of his pawn. This follows the rule which states: With King and pawn versus King, the side with the extra pawn can only win if his King can get in front of his pawn and if he retains opposition after doing so. If you don't have a full command of distant opposition you will need to review Variation One.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • King and Rook-pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions White can often win if his King gets in front of his pawn. However, if the pawn is an h-pawn or a-pawn then an advanced King will only help if White's King lands, in the case of an a-pawn, on b7 or b8 since that controls the Queening square and allows the pawn to walk forward to heaven. In the present position the Black King is forcing White's monarch to block the pawn. If the White King gets out of the way and steps to b6 (after Black's King goes to c8) then...
  • King and Rook pawn versus King

    Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board. Known as being very drawish in nature, this position is certainly no exception. The game is a draw no matter who is to move, though for simplicity's sake we give the move to Black.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    Black draws this game by showing a good understanding of the opposition.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and Rook-pawn versus King and Rook-pawn

    White is going to win Black's pawn by force but Black would draw anyway if his King could reach a7, b7, c7, c8, b8 or a8 (See Variation One and Two for an example of this). White won't allow that to happen, though, so White will win the game.
  • King and Rook pawn versus King

    Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board. Known as being very drawish in nature, this position is certainly no exception. The game is a draw no matter who is to move, though for simplicity's sake we give the move to Black.
  • King and Rook-pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions White can often win if his King gets in front of his pawn. However, if the pawn is an h-pawn or a-pawn then an advanced King will only help if White's King lands, in the case of an a-pawn, on b7 or b8 since that controls the Queening square and allows the pawn to walk forward to heaven. In the present position the Black King is forcing White's monarch to block the pawn. If the White King gets out of the way and steps to b6 (after Black's King goes to c8) then...
  • King and two doubled pawns versus lone King

    White always wins if he is two pawns up unless these pawns are Rook-pawns. The way to victory is to pretend you don't have that extra pawn until it is needed to use up a move and give you the opposition.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and two doubled pawns versus lone King

    White always wins if he is two pawns up unless these pawns are Rook-pawns. The way to victory is to pretend you don't have that extra pawn until it is needed to use up a move and give you the opposition. In this example we see White playing incorrectly and setting up a stalemate possibility.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and tripled Rook-pawns versus King

    Normally White will win if he is two pawns up (even if they are doubled). However, if these doubled or even tripled pawns are Rook-pawns then the game will be drawn if the defending King can get to the usual drawing locations (in the case of an a-pawn these drawing squares are c7, b7, a7, c8, b8, a8). In the present example White has no chance whatsoever to win. See Variation One for more background on the Rook- pawn.
  • King and Rook-pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions White can often win if his King gets in front of his pawn. However, if the pawn is an h-pawn or a-pawn then an advanced King will only help if White's King lands, in the case of an a-pawn, on b7 or b8 since that controls the Queening square and allows the pawn to walk forward to heaven. In the present position the Black King is forcing White's monarch to block the pawn. If the White King gets out of the way and steps to b6 (after Black's King goes to c8) then...
  • King and Rook pawn versus King

    Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board. Known as being very drawish in nature, this position is certainly no exception. The game is a draw no matter who is to move, though for simplicity's sake we give the move to Black.
  • King and two pawns versus King

    White will always win when he has two pawns to none in a King and pawn endgame unless both pawns are doubled Rook-pawns (see Variation One for an example of this). In the present case White has one Rook-pawn but also possess a g-pawn. This means that White should win the game if my earlier comment about White always winning while two pawns up is to be believed. How can White force Black to give up?
  • King and tripled Rook-pawns versus King

    Normally White will win if he is two pawns up (even if they are doubled). However, if these doubled or even tripled pawns are Rook-pawns then the game will be drawn if the defending King can get to the usual drawing locations (in the case of an a-pawn these drawing squares are c7, b7, a7, c8, b8, a8). In the present example White has no chance whatsoever to win. See Variation One for more background on the Rook- pawn.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • King and two pawns versus King

    White always wins if he has two pawns versus none (as long as they are not doubled Rook-pawns). In the present example White's two extra pawns are powerful connected passed pawns that are marching down the center. The win is (or should be) very easy to achieve.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and two disconnected passers vs. King

    When you are two pawns up, disconnected passed pawns are always winning unless one can be taken and the defending King can get back in time to stop the other one from promoting. In the present situation the pawns are self-guarding; if one is taken the other will make a touchdown and turn into a Queen.
  • The Square of the Pawn

    Sometimes a game comes down to a simple race between a King and a pawn. Can the King stop the pawn from promoting? Is a long calculation necessary to figure out the answer? It turns out that a glance is all you need to tell whether a King can or can not stop a pawn. This problem shows you how to do it.
  • King and two disconnected passed pawns vs. King

    When you are two pawns up, disconnected passed pawns are always winning unless one can be taken and the defending King can get back in time to stop the other one from promoting. In the present situation the Black King proves up to the task and manages to eat both units.
  • The Square of the Pawn

    Sometimes a game comes down to a simple race between a King and a pawn. Can the King stop the pawn from promoting? Is a long calculation necessary to figure out the answer? It turns out that a glance is all you need to tell whether a King can or can not stop a pawn. This problem shows you how to do it.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    When each side has one pawn left the result depends on King position and how far advanced the pawns are. Quite simply, each side is trying to promote their pawn, win the enemy pawn or give their pawn up in such a way as to create a drawn King and pawn versus King situation. In the present position White wins because of a peculiarity of passed Rook-pawns on opposite sides of the board: when one pawn Queens it eyes the Queening square of the enemy pawn.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Both sides are going to promote their pawns but a straight race favors White because-even though Black Queens first-White will Queen with check and skewer the Black King and Queen. Some subtlety is needed if Black is going to turn this thing around and win the game! An understanding of Variations One and Two would be very useful.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    When each side has one pawn left the result depends on King position and how far advanced the pawns are. Quite simply, each side is trying to promote their pawn, win the enemy pawn or give their pawn up in such a way as to create a drawn King and pawn versus King situation. In the present position White wins because of a peculiarity of passed Rook-pawns on opposite sides of the board: when one pawn Queens it eyes the Queening square of the enemy pawn.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Black has just tried to win a straight pawn race by pushing his pawn from a4 to a3. This would be fine if the Black King did not sit on the a1-h8 diagonal. Unfortunately, the bad position of the Black King turns things upside down and leads to a White victory.
  • The Square of the Pawn

    Sometimes a game comes down to a simple race between a King and a pawn. Can the King stop the pawn from promoting? Is a long calculation necessary to figure out the answer? It turns out that a glance is all you need to tell whether a King can or can not stop a pawn. This problem shows you how to do it.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Material is even but White's far superior King position (always a big plus in any King and pawn endgame) will allow him to force the win of the Black pawn. Is Black doomed or can he still save the game? The answer: Black draws in such situations no matter who has the move unless White can capture Black's pawn on the sixth rank (White is going to take the Black pawn on the fifth rank here so this worry does not apply to this particular problem-see Variation Four for an example of a sixth rank capture).
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are far apart and the result of the game depends on who can get their King in front of the White pawn and retain opposition after doing so. White to move is an easy win for the first player (and is explored in another problem) but Black to move changes everything. How can Black draw?
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Black is losing his pawn by force but this position would be drawn nonetheless if the Black pawn was going to be captured on the fifth rank, fourth rank, etc. See Variation One for confirmation of this. In the present situation Black loses because his King will be backed up to the final rank. This will make it impossible for him to set up the ideal defensive formation (he needs to go backwards to do this and there is nowhere to go backwards to!) and a loss will result. See Variation Two for more...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Black is losing his pawn by force but this position would be drawn nonetheless if the Black pawn was going to be captured on the fifth rank, fourth rank, etc. See Variation One for confirmation of this. In the present situation Black loses because his King will be backed up to the final rank. This will make it impossible for him to set up the ideal defensive formation (he needs to go backwards to do this and there is nowhere to go backwards to!) and a loss will result. See Variation Two for more...
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Material is even but White's far superior King position (always a big plus in any King and pawn endgame) will allow him to force the win of the Black pawn. Is Black doomed or can he still save the game? The answer: Black draws in such situations no matter who has the move unless White can capture Black's pawn on the sixth rank (White is going to take the Black pawn on the fifth rank here so this worry does not apply to this particular problem-see Variation Four for an example of a sixth rank capture).
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    White plays for a type of zugzwang in which each side owns a King and pawn (the pawns are facing each other), each sides King defends their own pawn while attacking the enemy one, and whoever has the move loses. This particular zugzwang position is called a trebuchet. In the present problem, White is trying to set up a trebuchet (Black to move would win by setting up a trebuchet of his own).
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    This position can be explained in the following simple way: if White can win the e6-pawn he will get the victory. If he can't win this pawn then the game will be drawn since White doesn't have a passed pawn and is not able to create one without exchanging the f-pawn for Black's e-pawn (which would result in a basic draw if the Black King can stay in front of the resultant passed pawn-see Variation One). Since Black has the move, Black can keep the White King out by carefully making use of opposition....
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    White plays for a type of zugzwang in which each side owns a King and pawn (the pawns are facing each other), each sides King defends their own pawn while attacking the enemy one, and whoever has the move loses. This particular zugzwang position is called a trebuchet. In the present problem, White is trying to set up a trebuchet (Black to move would win by setting up a trebuchet of his own).
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    If the White King can land on b6, c6, d6, f6, g6 or h6 he will force the win of the lone enemy pawn. Such all-important squares (shown in graphic detail in Key Squares) are known as key squares. Key squares are actually an advanced concept that is outside the scope of the present set of problems. However, a mild taste won't do you any harm (if you get a headache call your doctor!) so press the key square button and then figure out a way to land your King on one of those big points. If you need to...
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    This position can be explained in the following simple way: if White can win the e6-pawn he will get the victory. If he can't win this pawn then the game will be drawn since White doesn't have a passed pawn and is not able to create one without exchanging the f-pawn for Black's e-pawn (which would result in a basic draw if the Black King can stay in front of the resultant passed pawn-see Variation One). In this case White has the move and can force entry into one of the key kingside squares. This...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    If the White King can land on b6, c6, d6, f6, g6 or h6 he will force the win of the lone enemy pawn. Such all-important squares (shown in graphic detail in Key Squares) are known as key squares. Key squares are actually an advanced concept that is outside the scope of the present set of problems. However, a mild taste won't do you any harm (if you get a headache call your doctor!) so press the key square button and then figure out a way to land your King on one of those big points. If you need to...
  • Black's King reaches f1, g1 or h1 by force!

    It may seem silly to have a battle between two Kings but this is actually a very difficult problem which even strong masters have trouble solving. Black wants to legally (meaning that the square is not defended by the White King) land on either f1, g1 or h1. White will try to stop him! Believe it or not, Black can force his way to one of those squares in 17 moves! When you learn to solve this problem you will become a master of the King! This will help you in all phases of the game and infinitely...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    This position can be explained in the following simple way: if White can win the e6-pawn he will get the victory. If he can't win this pawn then the game will be drawn since White doesn't have a passed pawn and is not able to create one without exchanging the f-pawn for Black's e-pawn (which would result in a basic draw if the Black King can stay in front of the resultant passed pawn-see Variation One). Since Black has the move, Black can keep the White King out by carefully making use of opposition....
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger side's King, if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns, or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side. In the present case White only wins if he can Queen his pawn or if he...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger sides King, if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns, or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side. In this problem White wins easily because he can force the win of the...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger sides King, if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns, or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side. In this problem White wins easily because he can force the win of the...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger side's King, if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns, or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side. In the present case White only wins if he can Queen his pawn or if he...
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger sides King (which is not the case here), if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns (once again, this is not the case), or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side (Black...
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Black is losing his pawn by force but this position would be drawn nonetheless if the Black pawn was going to be captured on the fifth rank, fourth rank, etc. See Variation One for confirmation of this. In the present situation Black loses because his King will be backed up to the final rank. This will make it impossible for him to set up the ideal defensive formation (he needs to go backwards to do this and there is nowhere to go backwards to!) and a loss will result. See Variation Two for more...
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger sides King, if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns, or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side. In this problem White wins easily because he can force the win of the...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When White has a protected passed pawn (the other two pawns are blocking each other) he will usually win (in two pawns versus one pawn situations). The defender's best hope is when the passed pawn is on the seventh rank and creates stalemating possibilities (see Variation One) or when the defender's pawn is a Rook-pawn (as is the case in this problem). In the present example Black draws because his pawn cannot be attacked from the left and any direct assault or any attempt to promote the b-pawn...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When one side has two pawns to one, the stronger side will usually win by eating the lone enemy pawn or by promoting one of his own pawns. However, the defender might be able to save the game if his King is far better placed than the stronger side's King, if his pawn is unblocked and is closer to promotion than the enemy pawns, or if stalemate possibilities exist that makes any kind of progress impossible for the stronger side. In the present case White only wins if he can Queen his pawn or if he...
  • King and Rook pawn versus King

    Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board. Known as being very drawish in nature, this position is certainly no exception. The game is a draw no matter who is to move, though for simplicity's sake we give the move to Black.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    This position is harder to win than many similar positions (where the pawns are locked and White has a protected passed pawn) because Black's last pawn is a Rook-pawn (White is unable to attack it from the left and a trade of b-pawn for the a5- pawn would lead to a dead drawn King and pawn versus King endgame-see Variation One for proof of this). Remember: The defender always has more saving chances when a Rook-pawn is on the board! Nevertheless, White can still win because he can use opposition...
  • King and Rook pawn versus King

    Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board. Known as being very drawish in nature, this position is certainly no exception. The game is a draw no matter who is to move, though for simplicity's sake we give the move to Black.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When White has a protected passed pawn (the other two pawns are blocking each other) he will usually win (in two pawns versus one pawn situations). The defender's best hope is when the passed pawn is on the seventh rank and creates stalemating possibilities (see Variation One) or when the defender's pawn is a Rook-pawn (as is the case in this problem). In the present example Black draws because his pawn cannot be attacked from the left and any direct assault or any attempt to promote the b-pawn...
  • Basic Triangulation

    This is a problem designed to teach you the concept of basic triangulation. Triangulation is one of those big words chess players love to use to describe a concept that is very, very simple. By using such a big word, we chess players look like super brains to the rest of the world. Just imagine: You are sitting at a table going through a chess book and a friend asks you what you are doing. What answer is more impressive? "Oh, I'm studying a simple idea in King and pawn endgames.", or, "Oh, I'm doing...
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • Distant Opposition

    The two Kings are facing off at a distance but the absence of pawns or pieces makes playing on in a real game ridiculous (since neither side could lose if they wanted to). However, we are trying to learn a concept so knowing the solution is critical to a player's understanding of chess as a whole. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition. In...
  • Rectangular Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is. The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. In its most basic form the Kings are just one square away from each other. However, in cases of rectangular opposition the Kings are standing in different areas of the board and are not connected by a rank, file or...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    White usually has excellent winning chances when he has two connected pawns to his opponent's one (as usual, the presence of Rook-pawns gives the defender more chances than usual to hold the game). The two winning methods are: 1) Win the enemy pawn. This will leave you two pawns up with an easy victory; 2) Trade pawns at an appropriate moment and transpose into a winning King and pawn versus King endgame. How should White go about winning this particular position?
  • King and pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions, White can win if his King is in front of his pawn and if he owns the opposition. In the present position Black thinks he has the opposition and hopes to draw because of this. What's the truth?
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    Often an extra pawn move is worth its weight in gold. In the present case the tempo it bestows gives White the opposition and forces the Black King to give up its dominant position. This problem shows you how useful it can be to save extra pawn/tempo moves for use later in the game. For a simpler example of this tempo gaining idea, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions, White can win if his King is in front of his pawn and if he owns the opposition. In the present position Black thinks he has the opposition and hopes to draw because of this. What's the truth?
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • Basic Diagonal Opposition

    Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is in its most basic form (we will end up with just one square separating the Kings). The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number. It is impossible to play endgames correctly without a firm understanding of the opposition.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    Though King and two connected pawns usually win against a lone pawn, the presence of Rook-pawns gives the defender chances that he would not normally have. In the present position Black can draw in a couple of different ways.
  • King and tripled Rook-pawns versus King

    Normally White will win if he is two pawns up (even if they are doubled). However, if these doubled or even tripled pawns are Rook-pawns then the game will be drawn if the defending King can get to the usual drawing locations (in the case of an a-pawn these drawing squares are c7, b7, a7, c8, b8, a8). In the present example White has no chance whatsoever to win. See Variation One for more background on the Rook- pawn.
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When White has a protected passed pawn (the other two pawns are blocking each other) he will usually win (in two pawns versus one pawn situations). The defender's best hope is when the passed pawn is on the seventh rank and creates stalemating possibilities (see Variation One) or when the defender's pawn is a Rook-pawn (as is the case in this problem). In the present example Black draws because his pawn cannot be attacked from the left and any direct assault or any attempt to promote the b-pawn...
  • King and two pawns versus King

    White will always win when he has two pawns to none in a King and pawn endgame unless both pawns are doubled Rook-pawns. In the present case White has one Rook-pawn but also possess a g-pawn. This means that White should win the game if my earlier comment about White always winning while two pawns up is to be believed. How can White force Black to give up?
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and two pawns vs. King and one

    White usually wins when he has two pawns to his opponent's one, even when his pawns are disconnected. Of course, the presence of Rook-pawns would give the defender real chances to draw. This rule of the cursed Rook-pawn is true of most endgames. In this particular position there are no Rook-pawns and the White King is better placed than its Black counterpart. These facts make the win fairly easy to prove.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When you have two disconnected pawns vs. one opposing pawn you can usually win by keeping one of your pawns far back so that it won't be vulnerable to attacks by the opposing King. The winning technique then revolves around you exchanging one set of pawns and transposing into a winning King and pawn versus King endgame. See Variation One for an example of this strategy. In the present position White has unwisely pushed both his pawns forward. This does two bad things: 1) it makes it easier for the...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

    When you have two disconnected pawns vs. one opposing pawn you can usually win by keeping one of your pawns far back so that it won't be vulnerable to attacks by the opposing King. The winning technique then revolves around you exchanging one set of pawns and transposing into a winning King and pawn versus King endgame. See Variation One for an example of this strategy. In the present position White has unwisely pushed both his pawns forward. This does two bad things: 1) it makes it easier for the...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and one

    White usually wins when he has two pawns to his opponent's one, even when his pawns are disconnected. Of course, the presence of Rook-pawns would give the defender real chances to draw. This rule of the cursed Rook-pawn is true of most endgames. In this particular position there are no Rook-pawns and the White King is better placed than its Black counterpart. These facts make the win fairly easy to prove.
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are far apart and the result of the game depends on who can get their King in front of the White pawn and retain opposition after doing so. White to move is an easy win for the first player (and is explored in another problem) but Black to move changes everything. How can Black draw?
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and two pawns versus King and pawn

    When you have two disconnected pawns vs. one enemy pawn you can usually win by keeping one of your pawns far back so that it won't be vulnerable to attacks by the enemy King. The winning technique then revolves around you exchanging one set of pawns and transposing into a winning King and pawn versus King endgame. See Variation One for an example of this strategy. In the present example White is cursed in two different ways. Not only is there a White Rook-pawn on the board (and we all know that...
  • King and two pawns vs. King and one

    White usually wins when he has two pawns to his opponent's one, even when his pawns are disconnected. Of course, the presence of Rook-pawns would give the defender real chances to draw. This rule of the cursed Rook-pawn is true of most endgames. In this particular position there are no Rook-pawns and the White King is better placed than its Black counterpart. These facts make the win fairly easy to prove.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and Rook-pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions White can often win if his King gets in front of his pawn. However, if the pawn is an h-pawn or a-pawn then an advanced King will only help if White's King lands, in the case of an a-pawn, on b7 or b8 since that controls the Queening square and allows the pawn to walk forward to heaven. In the present position the Black King is forcing White's monarch to block the pawn. If the White King gets out of the way and steps to b6 (after Black's King goes to c8) then...
  • King and two doubled pawns vs. King and pawn

    Doubled pawns (with the enemy pawn on the same or adjacent file) will often win for White unless, of course, a Rook-pawn is on the board (and in this case Knight-pawns will also cause difficulties). In general, the more central the pawns the less difficulties White will have in converting his material advantage into a win (the stronger side likes central pawns in virtually all types of endings). In the present case White wins because his pawns are central and his King is advanced. To gain the victory...
  • King and two doubled pawns versus lone King

    White always wins if he is two pawns up unless these pawns are Rook-pawns. The way to victory is to pretend you don't have that extra pawn until it is needed to use up a move and give you the opposition.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and doubled pawns vs. King and pawn

    Doubled pawns (with the enemy pawn on the same or adjacent file) will often win for White unless, of course, a Rook-pawn is on the board (and in this case Knight-pawns will also cause difficulties). In general, the more central the pawns the less difficulties White will have in converting his material advantage into a win (the stronger side likes central pawns in virtually all types of endings). This position is drawn because all the pawns are Knight-pawns (it was mentioned above that Knight-pawns...
  • King and two doubled pawns versus lone King

    White always wins if he is two pawns up unless these pawns are Rook-pawns. The way to victory is to pretend you don't have that extra pawn until it is needed to use up a move and give you the opposition.
  • King and doubled pawns vs. King and pawn

    White often wins with doubled pawns versus King and lone pawn. However, in this case the Black King is very active and the White pawns appear to be vulnerable. Can White score the full point here?
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    White plays for a type of zugzwang in which each side owns a King and pawn (the pawns are facing each other), each sides King defends their own pawn while attacking the enemy one, and whoever has the move loses. This particular zugzwang position is called a trebuchet. In the present problem, White is trying to set up a trebuchet (Black to move would win by setting up a trebuchet of his own).
  • King and doubled pawns vs. King and one

    If Black's King couldn't advance to an active square then White would win easily but, because the Black King will end up on a superior square, the draw should not be hard to prove.
  • King and pawn versus King

    King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results....
  • King and pawn versus King

    In King and pawn versus King positions, White can win if his King is in front of his pawn and if he owns the opposition. In the present position Black thinks he has the opposition and hopes to draw because of this. What's the truth?
  • King and three pawns vs. King and three pawns

    Black to play would draw easily by 1...g6 (White would be the one fighting for the draw due to Black's superior King position. However, the draw could still be obtained, as shown in the Variation). However, since White has the move and since the Kings are so far away from the action, White can win the game by making use of a common but very important tactical device.
  • King and three pawns vs. King and three pawns

    Black has just ended various White tricks by placing his g-pawn on g6 (see Variation One for an example of these tricks). Now he hopes to make use of his superior King position but White can still draw by making use of the opposition.
  • King and three pawns vs. King and three pawns

    Black has just ended various White tricks by placing his g-pawn on g6 (see Variation One for an example of these tricks). Now he hopes to make use of his superior King position but White can still draw by making use of the opposition.
  • King and three pawns vs. King and three pawns

    Black to play would draw easily by 1...g6 (White would be the one fighting for the draw due to Black's superior King position. However, the draw could still be obtained, as shown in the Variation). However, since White has the move and since the Kings are so far away from the action, White can win the game by making use of a common but very important tactical device.
  • King and Pawn versus King

    When one side has a pawn left and the other side has nothing, the result of the game depends on the placement of the Kings. If the defending King can get in front of the pawn he will usually draw. If the attacker's King gets in front of his own pawn the result hinges on who has the opposition. If you need to review basic opposition, see Variation One.
  • King and pawn versus King

    The Kings are far apart and the result of the game depends on who can get their King in front of the White pawn and retain opposition after doing so. White to move is an easy win for the first player (and is explored in another problem) but Black to move changes everything. How can Black draw?
  • Outside passed pawn

    Though Black is a pawn up, White possesses the huge advantage of an outside passed pawn. This allows White to use his queenside pawn as a decoy and get his King deep into the nest of enemy kingside pawns. The other advantage White has is the fact that his lone kingside pawn is stopping all three Black units. Stopping two pawns with one (or in this case three pawns with one!) is a very useful thing to do and has led to the win of many a chess game.
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    Black is losing his pawn by force but this position would be drawn nonetheless if the Black pawn was going to be captured on the fifth rank, fourth rank, etc. See Variation One for confirmation of this. In the present situation Black loses because his King will be backed up to the final rank. This will make it impossible for him to set up the ideal defensive formation (he needs to go backwards to do this and there is nowhere to go backwards to!) and a loss will result. See Variation Two for more...
  • King and pawn vs. King and pawn

    White plays for a type of zugzwang in which each side owns a King and pawn (the pawns are facing each other), each sides King defends their own pawn while attacking the enemy one, and whoever has the move loses. This particular zugzwang position is called a trebuchet. In the present problem, White is trying to set up a trebuchet (Black to move would win by setting up a trebuchet of his own).
  • Tactical pawn endgame

    It seems that White is in trouble. Black has a passed a-pawn that will eventually turn into a Queen while White's pawn majority on the queenside is firmly blocked by the two Black pawns. However, as Variation One shows, sometimes a firmly blocked pawn refuses to remain blocked!
  • King and three pawns vs. King and three pawns

    Black to play would draw easily by 1...g6 (White would be the one fighting for the draw due to Black's superior King position. However, the draw could still be obtained, as shown in the Variation). However, since White has the move and since the Kings are so far away from the action, White can win the game by making use of a common but very important tactical device.
  • Outside passed pawn

    Though Black is a pawn up, White possesses the huge advantage of an outside passed pawn. This allows White to use his queenside pawn as a decoy and get his King deep into the nest of enemy kingside pawns. The other advantage White has is the fact that his lone kingside pawn is stopping all three Black units. Stopping two pawns with one (or in this case three pawns with one!) is a very useful thing to do and has led to the win of many a chess game.
  • King and two pawns vs. lone King

    White has two extra pawns, which is always supposed to be decisive. However, one is a rook pawn, which always makes any endgame sticky. How can White force the win?
  • Center Pawn on the Seventh vs. Queen

    If the queen's king can get close to the pawn the win becomes trivial. However, if the superior side's king is far away, a certain idea must be known before the position can be solved. In general, a White queen will win against a Black pawn on the seventh rank. The only exceptions reside with rook-pawns and bishop-pawns.
  • Queen vs. King and Rook pawn on the seventh

    One of the exceptions to the rule that a queen will always beat a passed pawn on the seventh rank is the case of the rook pawn.
  • Rook pawn vs. Queen and close King

    If the superior side's king can get fairly close to the opponent's pawn, the game can be won.
  • Queen vs. Bishop Pawn

    One would think that against a bishop pawn on the seventh rank, the side with the queen should easily win, as is true in similar positions with knight pawn, king pawn, or queen pawn. However, a surprising fact enables Black to draw this game. This leaves us with the following bit of knowledge: if you are a queen behind but have a pawn on the seventh rank backed up by your king, you only have drawing chances if the White king is far away, and if your pawn is a rook pawn or a bishop pawn.
  • Bishops of opposite colors in a middlegame

    Bishops of opposite colors--one side owns a light-squared bishop while the other side owns a dark-squared bishop--are considered drawish beasts in an endgame and useful attacking pieces in a middlegame. They are good in a middlegame because you can attack things which the opponent's bishop cannot defend. Thus, it is like having an extra attacking unit on the board. White can win immediately by making use of the fact that his bishop can attack things which the opponent's bishop cannot defend.
  • Opposite colored Bishops and one pawn vs. none

    White is a pawn ahead, which is only one square away from queening. However, Black's bishop is waiting to snip it off, if it dares to stumble ahead. There is nothing White can do about this, since the loss of White's final pawn creates a certain draw, even though he is getting a whole bishop in return.
  • Opposite colored Bishops endgame advice

    Black is a pawn down, and, to make matters worse, his king is far away from the battle while White's is right there in the midst of things. A couple of well thought out moves, however, will completely nullify White's advantage.
  • Opposite colored Bishops with two extra pawns

    Two extra pawns usually win in most positions but opposite colored Bishops may make things difficult. If the defender can create a permanent block of the enemy pawns then he will get the draw despite his material disadvantage.
  • Bishops of opposite colors. How to advance pawns

    Because of two extra pawns, which are quite far advanced, White should win. However, it is important to remember that passed pawns in bishop endings should be pushed to squares of the opposite color of your bishop. In this way the pawns control the squares that your bishop cannot cover, which will make it difficult for your opponent to create a blockade. In endings of bishops of opposite colors, it is important to understand that you should push your pawns to squares of the color of your opponent's...
  • Lucena Position

    This position was analyzed hundreds of years ago and now is recognized as the key to any and all rook endgames. Simply put, if you want to win a rook endgame, you should strive for this type of position. If you want to draw, you must avoid this situation with all your might!
  • Philidor's Position

    This position is the second most important in rook endgames, the Lucena position being first. Even though down one pawn, Black can draw easily by putting his king in front of the passed pawn, as long as he knows how to use his rook in such positions.
  • The passive Rook

    Black's rook is passively trapped on the back rank, which, coupled with White's extra pawn, leads to Black's demise. It's almost never a good idea to allow your rook to become passive like this!
  • Rooks Belong Behind Passed Pawns!

    A rook belongs behind a passed pawn, no matter whose passed pawn it is! This problem demonstrates the tremendous difference in the result depending on who gets her rook behind the passed pawn first.
  • Rook behind the passed pawn

    Once White gets her rook behind the passed pawn, the game is as good as over.
  • (Active) Rook and Pawn Ending

    Black can easily draw this position, because the Black rook is behind the passed pawn, which has incapacitated the White rook, and the pawn is on the seventh rank, which means that the White king cannot hide behind it. However, danger does lurk! White threatens to win immediately, but if Black spots this in time and prevents it, the draw will be very easy to achieve.
  • The Deadly skewer

    If the White rook can move out of the corner, Black is in serious trouble. Here White wants to employ a tactical motive to free the rook.
  • Bishop and Rook Pawn of Wrong Color

    One of the great injustices in chess is that a bishop and rook-pawn versus a lone king is not always a win. That's right, being up a whole bishop and pawn may not give you a sure thing! Of course, usually such a material discrepancy leads to an easy win, but if you have a rook-pawn whose queening square is the opposite color of your bishop, then the game is drawn, if the defending side's king can get to the queening square. As you will see often, rook pawns tend to be harder to win with for the superior...
  • Same Color Bishops

    A glance may give the impression that Black is in big trouble. After all, he is two pawns behind and the bishops are of the same color; opposite colored bishops always give the defender extra drawing chances. However, Black can make the draw clear by transposing into a well-known drawing scenario.
  • Bishop and Pawn vs. Lone King

    Bishop and pawn versus lone King is, more often than not, a very simple win. Even if you have a rook-pawn, which usually causes some sort of problem, the win is simple if the pawn promotes on the same color of the bishop.
  • Bishop and center-pawn vs. lone King

    Bishop and pawn versus lone king always wins, if you don't have the tricky situation of a rook-pawn queening on the opposite color of your bishop (as seen in an earlier problem). This problem shows just how easy this win can be.
  • Knight and rook-pawn vs. lone King

    A Knight and pawn always wins against a lone king, unless the pawn is a rook-pawn on the seventh rank. Then stalemate possibilities rear their ugly head and, since the enemy king cannot be chased out of the corner, a rather unfair draw often results. Any other seventh rank pawn defended by the knight is always an easy win, because stalemates no longer exist in such abundance. (You still have to watch out for the little buggers, but they can't influence the result, if you are aware of them.)
  • Knight and rook-pawn on the sixth

    White always wins easily with a knight and pawn (even if it is a rook-pawn), versus lone king, except for the one case of the rook-pawn being on the seventh rank. In the present case the extra pawn and knight win quickly and without effort.

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