Mastery: Misc

Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle

Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle

"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.

  • 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...

    • 16 challenges
  • 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;...

    • 12 challenges
  • 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...

    • 8 challenges
  • 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...

    • 5 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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...

    • 15 challenges
  • 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...

    • 7 challenges
  • 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.

    • 1 challenge
  • 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...

    • 10 challenges
  • 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.

    • 6 challenges
  • 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...

    • 6 challenges
  • 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...

    • 7 challenges
  • 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...

    • 8 challenges
  • 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...

    • 6 challenges
  • 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...

    • 5 challenges
  • 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....

    • 12 challenges
  • 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...

    • 6 challenges
  • 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.

    • 6 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 8 challenges
  • 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...

    • 11 challenges
  • 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...

    • 9 challenges
  • 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.

    • 8 challenges
  • 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....

    • 8 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 13 challenges
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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...

    • 7 challenges
  • 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...

    • 12 challenges
  • 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...

    • 5 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 7 challenges
  • 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...

    • 1 challenge
  • 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.

    • 5 challenges
  • 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...

    • 7 challenges
  • 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...

    • 12 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 8 challenges
  • 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...

    • 6 challenges
  • 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)....

    • 1 challenge
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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)....

    • 2 challenges
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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...

    • 14 challenges
  • 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...

    • 9 challenges
  • 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...

    • 8 challenges
  • 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...

    • 4 challenges
  • 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...

    • 2 challenges
  • 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...

    • 17 challenges
  • 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...

    • 4 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • 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.

    • 5 challenges
  • 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...

    • 4 challenges
  • 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...

    • 5 challenges
  • 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...

    • 4 challenges
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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...

    • 4 challenges
  • 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...

    • 5 challenges
  • 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...

    • 6 challenges
  • 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...

    • 4 challenges
  • 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 fewer difficulties...

    • 11 challenges
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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?

    • 9 challenges
  • 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...

    • 16 challenges
  • 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.

    • 4 challenges
  • 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.

    • 7 challenges
  • 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...

    • 5 challenges
  • 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...

    • 2 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • 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.

    • 2 challenges
  • 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...

    • 9 challenges
  • 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...

    • 7 challenges
  • 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.

    • 7 challenges
  • 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!

    • 5 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • Rook behind the passed pawn

    Once White gets her rook behind the passed pawn, the game is as good as over.

    • 12 challenges
  • (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...

    • 3 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • 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,...

    • 2 challenges
  • 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...

    • 6 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
  • Knight and rook-pawn vs. lone King

    A Knight and pawn always win 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....

    • 1 challenge
  • 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.

    • 3 challenges
Lessons
What is Chess.com?