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Pawn Endings: Beginner to Expert

Pawn Endings: Beginner to Expert

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Pawn Endings from Beginner to Expert - IM Eric Tangborn & FM Thomas Wolski. With the 100 challenges in this module, Tangborn & Wolski cover king and pawn endings thoroughly.

  • King ending: the Opposition

    Of course a position consisting of just king versus king is drawn. The aim of this position is to illustrate the concept of opposition.

    • 1 meydan okuma
  • King Ending: The Distant Opposition

    The purpose of this position is to show an example of distant opposition. This is when the kings are on the same line (rank, file, or diagonal) with an odd number of squares between them and it's Black's move. Equivalently if it's White's move, he will...

    • 1 meydan okuma
  • King Ending: Distant Diagonal Opposition

    The purpose of this position is to show an example of the distant diagonal opposition. This occurs when the kings are on the same diagonal with an odd number of squares between them. Here there is an even number of squares between them. The side to move...

    • 1 meydan okuma
  • The Square of the Pawn

    The goal of every passed pawn is to reach the last rank so that it may be promoted to a queen or some other piece. When there is only one pawn on the board, it can only be stopped by the opponent's king.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • King and Pawn versus King: The Opposition

    This is a basic, but very important ending illustrating opposition. When the kings are on the same line and the number of intervening squares between them is odd, then the player who has to move will lose the opposition.

    • 13 meydan okuma
  • The Rook Pawn

    Winning with a rook pawn is the most difficult as this example illustrates.

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • King ending: Opposition and Outflanking

    King versus king is, of course, a draw. But this will not be a normal chess game with checkmate. This position will be used instead to learn opposition and outflanking. White to play has the opposition. His goal is to reach f8 or h8 in at most 17 moves....

    • 17 meydan okuma
  • Cutting off the King

    If it were Black's move in this position, he would be able to draw. White, with the move, will be able to win this position by cutting off the opposing king from the important squares.

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • Shielding off the Opposing King

    Black hopes to draw by quickly returning to the queenside. White needs to prevent this by shielding off the opposing king.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • The Critical Square

    When there is only a rook pawn and kings on the board, the weaker side can draw if his king can reach the critical square.

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • The Skewer

    If both sides have passed pawns that queen at the same time, the side that queens first will usually have the advantage, often being able to give a check. Sometimes this check will be a skewer, also known as an x-ray. This is a tactic by which a piece...

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • The Basic Position

    White will try to queen the pawn. Your goal as Black is to stop the pawn and draw. This basic position should be thoroughly mastered by every student.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • King and Pawn versus King: The Critical Squares

    Opposition is the key to such endings. White needs to get the king in front of the pawn and also must gain the opposition at the same time. When he does so, he must have control over one of the three critical squares, c5, d5, or e5. Otherwise Black will...

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • King and Pawn versus King: The King on the Sixth Rank

    An important rule to remember is that a pawn on the fifth rank wins with the king in front of it. It does not matter whether or not White has the opposition, for in either case White gains control of the queening square (except with a rook pawn).

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • King and Pawn versus King: The Rook Pawn

    White's winning chances are greatly reduced when the only pawn is a rook pawn.

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • King and pawn versus King and pawn: The Sixth Rank

    A very important rule of king and pawn versus king is that White can win if he can get his king to the 6th rank in front of the pawn.

    • 14 meydan okuma
  • King and Pawn versus King and Pawn: The Defense

    This is a very important problem on your road to mastering chess endings. If it's White's move, he wins. If it's Black's move, then he can draw.

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • The Critical Squares

    Whoever moves has the advantage in this position. White to move wins. Black to move results in a draw. White can win if he can get the king to one of the critical squares e4, d4, or c4.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • The Opposition

    In endings with only kings and pawns present, the opposition becomes extremely important. The key to a successful Black defense is to prevent the White king from getting in touch with the pawn's queening square.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • Connected Pawns

    Being two pawns up in a pawn ending is usually an easy win. Here White has some problems, because if he advances the king too rashly, Black could draw by stalemate.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • King and Disconnected Pawns

    Being two pawns up should be an easy win in a pawn ending. However, here the pawns are disconnected and the White king is completely out of play. Black can draw if he can win one pawn and then stop the other.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • Controlling the Critical Diagonal

    Usually, king and pawn versus king and pawn is drawn, but there are a couple of exceptions. For example, if White can win Black's pawn and the resulting king and pawn vs. king ending is winning. The other exception occurs when White queens first or both...

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • Knight Move Opposition

    The theme of this position is very important and often occurs in pawn endings.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • The Sacrifice

    Doubled pawns are pawns that are on the same file. Usually doubled pawns are weak, but here you have two pawns and your opponent has none. You want to force one of the pawns through to the queening square.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • The Breakthrough

    White is a pawn ahead and needs to find a way to breakthrough.

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • Blocking the Critical Diagonal

    White has an outside passed pawn, the a-pawn. However, the Black king is within the square of that pawn. Nevertheless there is a way to block the critical diagonal.

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • Blocking

    A very important rule of an ending consisting of king and pawn versus king is that if the king gets to the 6th rank ahead of the pawn, it's a win. This needs to be kept in mind when the following problem is solved. Black needs to block the White king...

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • The Protected Passed Pawn

    A very strong pawn setup is when one side has a protected passed pawn. Then the inferior side can neither capture nor stray too far from this pawn.

    • 12 meydan okuma
  • Timing

    White's first move will be the most important. If he does not time things just right, then a draw will result.

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Breakthrough Sacrifice

    In this position we see a breakthrough sacrifice, characteristic of backward pawns when the opposing king is far away.

    • 13 meydan okuma
  • Backward Pawn

    Whoever has the move in this position wins. White's problem is because his c-pawn is backward. Black's single pawn on the queenside holds up both of White's pawns.

    • 11 meydan okuma
  • Creation of a Passed Pawn

    You must keep your eyes open to tactical opportunities, especially in regard to passed pawns.

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • The Blockade

    Positions can arise in which a single pawn can blockade two opposing pawns.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Opposition

    This example is an excellent demonstration of opposition. The definition of the opposition according to Capablanca is "when the kings are on the same line and the number of intervening squares between them is even, the player who has the move has the...

    • 20 meydan okuma
  • Related Squares

    This position is an illustration of key or related squares. To win, White must capture Black's c3-pawn. He will achieve this if he can get the king to either one of the key squares e2 or b3.

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • Protected Passed Pawn

    With a protected passed pawn, this position will be easy to win.

    • 12 meydan okuma
  • Disconnected Pawns

    White is a pawn ahead, but his pawns are disconnected. To win he must follow the important endgame rule of advancing the pawns only at the right times.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • The outside passed pawn

    This position shows the advantage of the outside passed pawn in an endgame. Material is even, but White is winning. White intends to force the Black king over to the queenside to stop the passed pawn. Then the unopposed White king can move to the kingside...

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • Pawn Ending

    This is a variation of the main challenge. Here we will see what happens if White takes the Black pawn on h4.

    • 12 meydan okuma
  • Doubled Pawns

    Unless one of the pawns will be immediately lost, doubled pawns as in this example win if the king is present to protect them. The key is that the rear pawn can be used for tempo moves to gain the opposition.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Key Squares

    This ending illustrates key squares. Key squares are the "dream squares" that the king wants to occupy in order to carry out a goal. White wins if it is his move in this position. Otherwise Black would be able to draw.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • Overextended Pawns

    White will be unable to win this position because both pawns are too far advanced. The position would be won if one of the pawns were still on the second or third rank. If you have two disconnected pawns versus a single opposing pawn, don't advance both...

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • Zugzwang

    This position occurred in the game Chkonia-Shivogin, USSR 1954. White has a win, but was not able to find it in the game. The theme of this ending is zugzwang. This is a German word meaning compulsion to move. If a player is in zugzwang, it is his move...

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • The Chase

    This is a study by I. Moravec, 1952

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Path of Return

    White must quickly return the king to his kingside, but he must choose the correct path of return.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Changing the Critical Square

    White appears to be in trouble, as he will soon lose his pawn. Hence a king and pawn vs. king ending will result. Black would be able to win if he can get his king in front of the pawn, on the critical square, and gain the opposition at the same time....

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Jettison

    At first White seems to have a good position, as he is a pawn ahead. However, a closer look shows that he is in trouble as Black has the much better placed king and White will soon lose both his pawns. Nevertheless, White has an unusual way to hold the...

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • Clearing the Path

    Even though both sides have four pawns, White has a way to break through and clear a path for a passed pawn.

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • Elegant Breakthrough

    Here we will see what White should do if Black answers White's 1.f5 with 1...Kd4.

    • 4 meydan okuma
  • Double Pawns

    This ending shows how to use pawn moves for tempos to gain the opposition. Doubled pawns are usually weak, but in pawn endings they can be used for tempos.

    • 18 meydan okuma
  • Schlage-Ahues, Berlin 1921

    This position occurred in the tournament game Schlage-Ahues, Berlin 1921.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • Vulnerable Square

    This is a study by Duras from 1905. White is able to win by forcing the Black king to a vulnerable square.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Three Opposing Pawns

    When three or more pawns are opposing each other, there is always a chance that one side or the other can create a passed pawn. Everyone should know this position thoroughly, as it can easily occur in practice.

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • Prevention

    This is a study by F. Dedrle from 1921.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • The Defense

    White will win this position if he can get his king to one of the key squares b6, c6, d6, f6, g6, or h6. Black's goal is to prevent the White king from ever reaching one of these squares.

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • The Space Advantage

    This is the conclusion of the game Brinckmann-Rubinstein, Budapest 1929. Rubinstein was one of the greatest masters of the endgame.

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • Missed Opportunity

    This position occurred in the game Chigorin-Tarrasch, Ostende 1905. White's position looks critical and he actually went on to lose. But he could have drawn! Can you find it?

    • 3 meydan okuma
  • An Endgame Study from 1885

    This is a study by Teed.

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Pawn Sacrifices

    This is the conclusion of the game Averbakh-Bebchuk, Moscow 1967.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • Diversion

    This is a study by D. Goldberg, 1932.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • Tempo

    A tempo is a unit of time defined by one move. Often one tempo can be the difference between winning and losing, as whoever has the move in this position wins.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Reti Study from 1922

    This composition of the Czechoslovakian Grandmaster Richard Reti is probably the most famous example in chess literature of king and pawn on either side.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • Triangulation

    This is from a game played long ago between Fahrni and Alapin. White is able to win by a triangulation maneuver.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • Weaknesses

    Here we demonstrate analysis from the game Botvinnik-Smyslov, Sverdlovsk 1943. This is an instructive illustration of weak pawns and weak squares.

    • 19 meydan okuma
  • Deflection

    This position arose in the game Lasker-Tarrasch, 1914. Lasker demonstrates a clever king maneuver. His idea is to use an outside passed pawn as a deflection.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • A Study by C.Salvioli, 1887

    The position is completely symmetrical, but having the first move allows White to set up a favorable king position.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • Opposition and Triangulation

    This ending features the important themes of opposition and triangulation. When the kings are on the same line and the number of intervening squares between them is even, the player who has the move has the opposition. Triangulation is when the king makes...

    • 11 meydan okuma
  • Pawn endings: Related Squares

    This position is an illustration of key or related squares. To win, White must capture Black's c3-pawn. He will achieve this if he can get the king to e2 or b3, which are the key squares. Therefore, to save the game, Black will have to prevent White's...

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Taimanov-Cuellar

    This is the conclusion of the game Taimanov-Cuellar, Leningrad 1973.

    • 13 meydan okuma
  • The Queenside Majority

    This is the conclusion of the game Tal-Djurasevic, 1958.

    • 11 meydan okuma
  • The Stalemate

    This is the conclusion of the game Nikolaevsky-Taimanov, 1967.

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Alekhine-Yates

    This is the conclusion of the game Alekhine-Yates, Hamburg 1910. The struggle will center on key points in the position, which are f4 and e6.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • Combining Two Ideas

    This is a study by I. Moravec, 1952.

    • 9 meydan okuma
  • The Maneuver

    This is a study by I. Moravec, 1941.

    • 5 meydan okuma
  • The Awkward Square

    This is a study by A. Mandler, 1938.

    • 11 meydan okuma
  • The Path

    White needs to return the king to the other side of the board to prevent Black from queening the a-pawn. But he must choose the right path to get there.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • Disconnected Passed Pawns

    This is the conclusion of the game Stoltz-Nimzovitch, 1928. It illustrates the power of disconnected passed pawns.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • Connected Passed Pawns

    This study by J. Behting from 1900 demonstrates the power of two advanced connected passed pawns.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • More Related Squares

    This study by G. Walker from 1841 is a good illustration of related squares.

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • Flohr-Capablanca

    This is the conclusion of the game Flohr-Capablanca, Moscow 1936. Black has a very poor pawn structure. The only way that he can draw is by preventing the White king from advancing.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • Pachman-Ilivitsky

    This is the conclusion of the game Pachman-Ilivitsky, Match 1956. This is another example of the important endgame rule that pawns should only be advanced carefully in the endgame. Black can draw this position because both of his pawns are in the starting...

    • 12 meydan okuma
  • Aronin-Smyslov

    This is the conclusion of the game Aronin-Smyslov, Moscow 1961. Smyslov, one of the great masters of the endgame, finds a very clever way to save the game.

    • 6 meydan okuma
  • Two Passed Pawns Three Files apart

    This is a variation from the game Aronin-Smyslov, Moscow 1961. Here we see how Black could have responded had White tried the active looking move Kc4 instead of playing c3 in the game.

    • 8 meydan okuma
  • The Blocking Maneuver

    This is a study by Adamson from 1915.

    • 14 meydan okuma
  • Corresponding Squares

    This is a study by Bianchetti from 1925

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Just in Time

    This is a possible variation from the game Pachman-Ilivitsky, Match 1956. Here we see how Black draws if White tries to advance the king instead of pushing the b-pawn.

    • 7 meydan okuma
  • Drawing Resource

    This is a variation from a study by Adamson in 1915.

    • 10 meydan okuma
  • Mutual Confusion

    Grandmaster Andy Soltis wrote in his recent endgame book that one should not trade down into a king and pawn ending unless one could safely bet one's first-born on the outcome of the game. In the game Wolski-Peters, American Open 1997, White just traded...

    • 13 meydan okuma
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