Move Two! Chapter 12

It’s more than time to move on to Chapter 12 of Move Two! I explain to my private pupils that there are many books teaching you how the pieces move and other basics, some of which they will have read. There are also many books written for players who are already strong and want to become even stronger, but there are very few books designed to get you from one to the other.

This was the case twenty years ago, when I first wrote Move Two! and is still true now. Until I can find a publisher interested in an updated and corrected version it’s available for free download.

In this chapter we return to the ending and consider the important subject of how to win with an extra piece. Children can understand that they might be able to win with an extra pawn because they can turn it into a queen, but they often don’t see how they can win positions where they have, say, a minor piece for a pawn, because you can’t mate with just a bishop or a knight.

We start with two examples taken from Richmond Junior Club games. In both games White had an extra minor piece but failed to convert his advantage. To win positions like this you need to understand the principle of Zugzwang: using your king and minor piece to force the enemy king back when your king will be able to infiltrate with decisive effect.

Our next piece of vital knowledge is a position where an extra piece and pawn doesn’t win: the important ending with bishop and wrong rook’s pawn (where the bishop doesn’t control the queening square) against king. This is a draw if the defending king can reach the queening square, something that every aspiring chess player should know.

It may seem unfair that, in this ending, an advantage of four points may not be enough to win, but with a queen against a pawn on the seventh rank you might not be able to win even though you’re eight pawns up. Our next section looks at this important ending which very often arises in practice from a pure pawn ending. These are positions where the pawn on the seventh rank is supported by its king while the enemy king is far away. The queen will win against a centre pawn or knight’s pawn by approaching the pawn via a zigzag sequence of checks and forcing the king onto the queening square. Then your king can approach and you repeat the procedure again. However the defender can draw with a bishop’s pawn or rook’s pawn by using a stalemate defence as long as the attacker’s king is far enough away.

Finally, we look briefly at the idea that, in the absence of kings, two connected pawns on the sixth rank win against a rook. Of course, this assumes you know how to win with king and queen against king and rook, which, as Chapter 15 will reveal, is not so easy.

Rereading the chapter now, it occurs to me that much more could be written, about rook against pawn, for example, or about knight and rook’s pawn against king. I guess I could also write about these subjects on this blog.

A five-question mini-quiz tests the student’s understanding of the material in this chapter. The Activities section then introduces the opening to be studied in the next chapter, the dreaded Danish Gambit.

Masters of the Universe reaches what was then the present day, and introduces Garry Kasparov.

The first game comes from when he was 14, and the second from the second Karpov-Kasparov match.

Richard James

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About Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard is currently the Curriculum Consultant for Chess in Schools and Communities (www.chessinschools.co.uk) as well as teaching chess in local schools and doing private tuition. He has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966 and currently has an ECF grade of 177.