Chess Terms


If you want to win more king and pawn endgames, you must be familiar with the concept of the opposition. Here's what you need to know about this technique that will help you win more games:

What Is Opposition?

The opposition, or direct opposition, is a situation where both kings face each other with only one square between them—either on a rank or a file.

Direct opposition in chess.
The kings face each other with only one square separating them.

Because kings cannot move into an attacked square, both kings create a mutual barrier that prevent the opponent from stepping closer. Because of this, the player who does not need to move is said to "have the opposition" because they can force the opposing king to give up important squares.

White can win this chess endgame using the concept of opposition
Black has to move away from the important f8-square, opening a path for White to move their king to e7 and promote their pawn.

What Is 'Diagonal' And 'Distant' Opposition?

The diagonal opposition is similar to direct opposition. The only difference is that the square between the two kings is on a diagonal.

Diagonal opposition in chess

Distant opposition occurs when there's an odd number of squares between the two kings, with that number being greater than one. 

Distant opposition in chess
It's Black's turn to move, so White has the distant opposition.

Why Is The Opposition Important?

Opposition is an important technique that can help chess players win many endgames. Understanding how this concept works and how to apply it can be the difference between winning, drawing, and even losing a game.

Consider this position: White is a pawn up and needs to promote it to win. If they know how to use the opposition, they can gain access to key squares for their king, which in turn will help their pawn to promote. 

Using the opposition in chess.

If they know how to use the opposition, they'll make the anti-intuitive but correct move: 1.Kc5, gaining the opposition. The b6-, c6-, and d6- square will be out of the black king's reach, forcing it to move away. Once Black's king moves, White will be able to gain ground and make for their pawn to promote:

Now, considering the same position, let's see what happens if White doesn't know about the opposition. If, for example, White plays 1.Kd5, it's now Black who can gain the opposition and keep the white king away from the key b6-, c6-, and d6-squares. White can't make progress, and the game ends in a draw.

Test Your Knowledge

In each puzzle below, use the opposition to win the game. Notice that the puzzles get harder, but you can use the "hint" button if you get stuck.

Puzzle 1

Puzzle 2

Puzzle 3


You now know what the opposition is, the different types of opposition, and its importance. Go to our Endgames page to practice a few endgames using the opposition!

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