Manufacturing Passed Pawns (2)

This is another example of rook endings guru, Keith Arkell, manufacturing a supported passed pawn, using the same technique as we saw in last week’s example. Once again, this comes from “Chess for Life”.

Again, the obvious way to create a passed pawn from Black’s majority is by arranging e6 and d5, but this would leave the d-pawn passed, but isolated. Instead, Arkell knocks out White’s e-pawn with


as a result of which he is left with a passed pawn on the d-file, which is defended by a colleague on e7. Black duly won.

Steve Giddins

Rook And Pawn Endings Are Always Draws

There is a saying in chess that rook and pawn endings are always draws.

This is not true, but it is possible to get draws from difficult positions in such endings, if you play well.

In this week’s problem, White is threatening to play Rh5 and then promote his pawn.

How can Black draw the game?

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White can draw with 1. Ke1 Kg3 2. Kf1 f3 3. gxf3 Kxf3 4. Ke1 Ke3 5. a4! and Black will have to allow a book draw, either with pawns on the rook’s file that he cannot promote, or an easily drawn King and Pawn ending after White plays axb5.

Steven Carr

Rook Endings (3)

Last time I considered some simple rook and pawn v rook endings from the Richmond Junior Club database.

In this article I’ll show you a few slightly more complicated examples.

Caspar Bates, who had to choose a move with white in this position against his brother Pascal, returned to chess several years ago and is now an occasional player (for Richmond in the London League) and an excellent composer of endgame studies.

At this stage in his career, though, his knowledge of endings was limited. He had the opportunity to head for the Philidor position, but instead chose a passive defence with his rook. This should still be good enough to draw, and in this position he has three ways to share the point. In order to play this position accurately, both players have to be aware of two standard tactical ideas, one of which you saw last week.

White can draw by continuing his policy of passive defence, playing Rd1, when Black has no way to make progress. Or he can choose an active defence and play either Rb2 or Rf2, planning to move up the board and check from behind. But Rg2 (or Rh2) would lose to a skewer: Black would reply with d2+ (a discovered check) and, if White takes the pawn, pick up the rook via a skewer because the white king is too far away. If White doesn’t take the pawn, Ra1 will lead to the same thing.

Instead White chose Ke4. Now Black can use another tactical idea which you may remember from last week’s article. His two winning moves are Ra7 and Ra8. In both cases, if the white rook takes the pawn, a check from behind will force the king away and win the rook. And if White doesn’t take the pawn, again black rook checks from behind will prove decisive. Note, though, that Ra6 is only a draw because the white king will be close enough to approach the rook, meeting Re6+ with Kf5.

Alas, he missed his chance, and after several repetitions the game eventually resulted in a draw.

This rather atypical position should also be a draw, but Black, to play, chose what should have been a losing option: 46… Ra5. Now White has two winning moves: the simpler way to win is 47. Rb6+ but White’s actual choice of 47. Kd4 should also suffice. Now Black is in zugzwang: a horizontal rook move lets the pawn advance, a vertical rook move allows Kc5, a king move to, say, b2, allows Kc4. That leaves Black’s choice in the game, 47… Kb4, which White correctly met with 48. Rb6+ Ka4 49. Kc4 Ka3. Now White can win by choosing a horizontal rook move, when Black is again zugged. Instead he played 50. Rb3+, when, after 50… Ka2 he’d have to repeat moves and have another go at finding the winning idea. But Black preferred 50… Ka4. Now 51. Rb1, threatening mate, wins at once, but he missed it, repeating moves with 51. Rb6 Ka3. He still didn’t spot the zugzwang and decided to try a different idea, 52. Kb5, hoping Black would trade rooks. No such luck: she captured the pawn: 52… Rxa6. Now White could have offered a draw but instead played on, hoping Black would allow a rook mate: 53. Rb3+ Ka2 54. Kc3??, only to discover he was losing his rook after 54… Rc6+ 55. Kb4 Rb6+.

Disillusioned, perhaps, by the result of this game, White soon gave up his chess career, and now, more than 30 years on, is a partner in a firm of solicitors based just across the road from Richmond Junior Club’s current Twickenham venue.

The basic principle in these endings is that if your king can make contact with the promotion square you’re likely to get the result you want.

So in this position, with White to move, there are two winning moves: Kg6 and Kh6. The white king has to run up the board, using the rook to shelter from checks if necessary. Instead, White played the understandable but misguided 52. f5, when Black can hold the draw by activating his rook and preparing to check from behind. But now Black in turn erred by playing 52… Re5 to pin the pawn. White now demonstrated the win as follows: 53. Ra6 Kf7 54. Ra7+ Kf8 55. Kf6 Re4 56. Ra8+ Re8 57. Rxe8+ Kxe8 58. Kg7 (the only winning move) and Black resigned.

Black could have offered more resistance with 55… Ke8 when play might continue 56. Kg6 Rd8 57. f6 Kg8 58. Rg7+ (but not f7+ which only draws) 58… Kf8 59. Rh7 or 58… Kh8 59. Rh7+ Kg8 60. f7+.

Note that this is the type of position where Black will lose even though his king reaches the queening square because of White’s mate threats.

So chess improvers need to be aware of a few basic principles, some of which apply to all rook endings.

* Rooks belong behind passed pawns (RBBPP)
* Keep your pieces active at all times
* Play with a long-term plan in mind rather than just operating with immediate threats
* Your king needs to head towards the promotion square
* Be aware of the basic tactical ideas which happen in rook endings (the skewer, the check to force the king away from defending the rook)
* Develop your long-range calculating skills

I’ll have a few more examples for you next week.

Richard James

The Importance of The Endgame Six

While checkmate with a King and Queen against a lone King is simple enough for the beginner to grasp, things change when there’s an opposition Queen still on the board (King and Queen versus King and Queen). Add a white pawn on the seventh rank, one move away from promotion, and things can get a bit tricky (believe it or not) for both players if they’re beginners. Of course, the experienced player will scoff at the notion of things getting a bit “tricky” with a pawn one square away from promotion. However, I’ve seen countless games in which beginners (playing white) will not only lose this pawn so close to promoting, but end up getting their Queen skewered to boot! As I’ve mentioned in previous endgame articles, you have to play very carefully during this game phase because one bad move can easily turn the tide in favor of your opponent! The less material on the board, the more important that material is and losing any material, even a pawn, can cost you the game.

The big difference with this endgame position, compared to a King and Queen versus lone King position, is that there are two Queens on the board (not to mention a white pawn that can add a third Queen into the fracas! Beginners playing the white pieces make the fatal mistake of trying to promote their pawn while maintaining their original Queen so they end up with a pair of Queens. This type of thinking, not seeing the bigger picture, leads to a plethora of problems. Remember, the person playing black also has a Queen that can deliver check, putting a halt to white’s plans. So what should the beginner do when faced with this type of endgame?

Rather than try to promote the pawn and acquire a second Queen, the beginner should try to eliminate the black Queen using a forcing move. Of course, this means making a move that forces the opposition’s hand which equates to black having to give up their Queen to stop you from promoting your pawn into a second Queen. Or as Don Corleone might say, “I’m going to make a move he can’t refuse!”

It should be noted that in this type of position, you have to be very wary of potential skewers. A skewer takes place on a rank, file or diagonal. In a skewer, a Bishop, Rook or Queen attacks an opposition piece. However, the real target of the attack is another piece positioned behind the first piece being attacked (along the rank, file or diagonal). In this type of endgame, the idea is to check the King and when the King moves, unable to defend the true target of the attack which is the Queen, that Queen is lost. Thus in a skewer, the real victim cannot be defended, so when the initial piece being attacked moves, the piece behind it is captured. In this type of endgame, the skewer will have one of the Queens checking one of the Kings and the poor piece behind the King (the true victim) will be a Queen. This would change the game’s outcome immediately. However, in our examples, there are no skewers to be had because of both King’s positions. Both Kings are on the same rank making a skewer highly unlikely. However, if one player could employ a series of checks that forced one of the Kings out towards the center of the board, a skewer could be employed! Let’s take a look at our first example!

In the above example, white plays 1. Qd4+. Beginners tend to make silly checks that amount to nothing because the checking piece’s action can be blocked, the checking piece can be captured or the King can simply move out of check. In this case, the check is solid because it lines the white Queen up with it’s target square, d8. What’s so important about d8? The white Queen can force a trade of Queens, allowing white to promote, regain a Queen and go on to win the game. After 1…Kb1, white plays 2. Qd8 forcing black’s hand! There’s nothing black can do but capture the Queen with 2…Qxd8 and white promotes with 3. exd8=Q!

The key here is to not even try to acquire a second Queen by promotion but to eliminate the opposition Queen with a threat the opposition can’t ignore. Note that in this endgame example, both Kings remain out of the action. While we always want to activate our Kings in the endgame, there are positional situations that require the actions of other pieces first. Again, in the above example, the position of both Kings thwarts a potential skewer. Now let’s take a look at another example.

In the above example, white plays 1. Qe6+ to connect the Queen with the critical square, e8. The check is really secondary but it does force the black King to move, 1…Kb2. With 2. Qe8, white again tries to force black into a trade of Queens that allows the white pawn on f7 to promote. However, black plays 2…Qb4, avoiding the exchange for the moment. While black is doomed in this position, he does give fighting back a try. After white promotes with 3. f8=Q, black delivers a check of his own with 3…Qc4+. Beginners sometimes think, “hey two Queens are better than one so I’ll move my King out of check.” The problem with moving your King is that, if you’re playing a really strong tactical player, you might eventually fall victim to a skewer. Therefore, white makes the correct move, 4. Qe2+, blocking the check with a check of his own,forcing a trade of Queens. Black takes on e2 with 4…Qxe2+ and white now brings his King into the action with 5. Kxe2. Now white can win with King and Queen against lone King. Notice that white still got his Queen trade!

In both examples, white made moves that forced black to give up his Queen. Rather than trying to maintain two Queens throughout the endgame, white simplified the position, making it easier to win. If you’re new to endgame play, you’ll want to keep it simple. Even with two Queens facing off against one opposition Queen, you can get into trouble. It’s better to have one Queen and no opposition Queen to deal with than two Queens and an opposition Queen. Remember, it’s about forcing the opposition to give up their Queen and that requires making forcing moves, giving the opposition no other options or options that poor at best. Also note that Queens in the hands of a beginner can lead to stalemate. I’ve seen countless games in which a beginner with a King and Queen versus lone opposition King has ended up with a stalemate position. A beginner with two Queens can be a danger, not to the opposition, but to themselves. Play smart in the endgame by simplifying things. Give up having two Queens against one Queen in favor of one Queen for yourself and no Queen for the opposition. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson

Amateur Versus Master: Game Seventeen

Double Dutch Defense

My opponent in this correspondence chess game lives in the Netherlands (Holland) and I played the Dutch Defense against him. That is like playing the French Defense against someone who lives in France.

Although I dropped a pawn on move number 20, the game was fairly even. Both sides defended well and the endgame ended up being fairly closed. I considered opening up the position in the endgame so that my bishop pair could become more powerful, but I decided against this because I was still down a pawn and keeping the position closed made drawing much easier.

This draw kept me tied for first place in this section.

Mike Serovey

Left Brain, Right Brain

This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. – Alan Watts

Everyone is aware of the dichotomy of function in the human mind between the left brain and the right brain. Chessplayers muse on the signficance of this division of consciousness to chessplay. But what about chessplayers who are missing part of their brain?

Young Colorado chessplayer Griffin McConnell, once the academic and chess star of his school, returned to chessplay after undergoing a partial hemispherectomy to alleviate nonstop seizures.

I met Griffin and his younger chessplaying brother Sullivan a year ago at a tournament in Manitou Springs. Both lads are bright, polite, and demons of chess. My score against both is positive, but both have caused me anxious moments and both have notched up their share of higher-rated scalps.

Here is my game against Griffin from the Denver Open. Griffin misses a tactical point, leading to the loss of a piece, followed by a cute checkmate.

Jacques Delaguerre

Recognise the Pattern # 29

Today we will see a typical way of breaking down a fianchetto formation. Here are some points to be considered while attacking fianchetto formation:
1) Try to exchange the fianchettoed bishop which will create a long term weakness around the opponent’s king.
2) Open up the h-file by advancing the h-pawn, sometimes you need to sacrifice to open it, I will discuss this pawn being blocked in my next article.
3) A pin on f7 (f2) can play a very crucial role
4) Try to stabilise the center, which is important as a wing attack can often be answered by a central counter attack.

These are the ideal conditions but it is not compulsory to carry out all of it before proceeding for an attack.

Steinitz against Mongredian in 1863. – White to move


Question: Is it the right time to attack with h4-h5 lever in order to attack the finachetto formation?

Solution: Most of the preconditions have been fulfilled except the exchange of fianchettoed bishop. Steintitz went for a kill as follows:

10. h4!

The idea is to open the h-file with the h4-h5 lever.

10…Nd7

If 10…h5, in order to prevent White from opening up h file, then 11. Ng5 is very unpleasant.

11. h5 c5 12. hxg6 Nxg6

If 12…hxg6 then 13.0-0-0 followed by Ng5, with the idea of Ne6, is very dangerous for Black.

13. 0-0-0

Bringing the rook into the game and protecting e4.

13…a6 14. Ng5 Nf6

It seems that Black is well protected but Black missed a blow. Can you see it?

15. Nxh7!!

Of course you often need to sacrifice something in order break the opponent’s defence when your pieces are placed optimally.

15…Nxh7 16. Rxh7 Kxh7

16. Qh5 was even stronger than the text move.

17. Qh5 Kg8 18. Rh1!

Threatening checkmate.

18…Re8 19. Qxg6

The point of whole combination.

19…Qf6 20. Bxf7+ Qxf7

Now 21. Rh8+ wins the queen and game. Black resigned after one more move.

Ashvin Chauhan

Manufacturing Passed Pawns

Manufacturing passed pawns is a vital endgame skill, but there are a few subtleties which tend not to be covered in most textbooks. Take the position below, which comes from the fantastic new book by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan, “Chess for Life”, which I cannot recommend too highly.

The obvious way to create a passed pawn from Black’s majority is to advance the g- and f-pawns, so as eventually to create a passed pawn on the f-file. But this pawn would not then be supported by another pawn (eg. after Black gets his pawns to f4 and g4, then plays f3, and there is an exchange gzxf3, g4xf3, etc).

Instead, Arkell finds a much stronger and more subtle plan. He advances his h-pawn, intending to knock out the White g-pawn, thus leaving a position where he will have g- an f-pawns against White’s h-pawn. The passed black f-pawn will then have the support of its partner the g-pawn, which will make it a much stronger weapon.

The game continued


Now Black has just what he wanted, a supported passed pawn on the f-file. His pawns eventually reached f3 and g4, and he won easily.

Steve Giddins

Resign, Or Play On?

There comes the inevitable moment in my games when I have to ask myself ‘Should I resign now or should I play on a few more moves?’

In this week’s problem, the grandmaster playing White resigned, although he had three moves by his King which held the draw.

Can you see how White can draw this game?

The answer to last week’s problem is that White uses his space advantage on the kingside to win as follows :-

1. Qxg7+ Kxg7 2. Rg3+ Kh6 3. Bc1+ Kh5 4. Be2+ Kxh4 5. Bg5 mate

Steven Carr

Rook Endings (2)

Having been sent the rook ending you saw last week I decided to look at the rook endings in my Richmond Junior Chess Club database to see how young players handled them.

I started by looking at endings with rook and pawn against rook.

Before you learn rook and pawn against rook you’ll need to know how to mate with king and rook against king (obviously) and have a complete knowledge of all king and pawn against king positions. At any point one player will be trying to trade rooks while the other player will be trying to keep rooks on the board. At lower levels, of course, this knowledge is sometimes lacking.

There were several games where this sort of thing happened. Black, in a position which should be a comfortable draw, decided to play Rxf4+. I guess this is caused by false logic. Black thinks “If my opponent gets a queen I’ll be 9 points behind, so I should capture the pawn now when I’ll only be 5 points behind”. Time and time again, if you ask children why they played their move, they will give an answer involving some sort of false logic. He saw that he’d lose his rook but thought it was the right thing to do.

Children at this level also tend to think in terms of threats rather than plans. This policy might work well in your primary school chess club, but at higher levels you need something more. In endings, more than any other part of the game, you need a plan. The man with the plan wins. In this position White’s winning because the black king is cut off. His plan should be to bring his king across to support the pawn’s advance while using his rook to stop the enemy monarch approaching. Instead he saw the chance to create a threat and played Kf6. Black was alert to the possibility of a skewer and White’s win turned into a loss.

Several lessons from this:
1. You need to operate with plans rather than immediate threats.
2. You need to watch out for skewers in rook endings.
3. You need to remember the idea of using your rook to cut off the enemy king.

This is similar to our first example, but perhaps White had a different reason. Up to this point White had defended impeccably, but now forgot that he could continue checking and thought the only way to stop the immediate mate was to play Rxg3. If you know the Philidor position you’ll know that Rf1+ is an easy draw.

Black has an extra pawn but should only draw. Instead, she played a natural move, pushing her passed pawn to h4. Sadly for her, a rook check will drive her king away and she will lose her rook. Another game where the rook beats the rook and pawn, and another tactical idea you need to know.

One more lesson:
4. Look out for positions where a rook is defended by a king: a rook check might force the king away from defending the rook or into a potential skewer.

At the end of a long game, when you don’t have much time left on the clock, it’s all too easy to forget to ask yourself the Magic Question (if I play that move what will my opponent do next?). In this position Black promoted his pawn without enough thought, and yet another skewer cost him his new queen. Instead he had four winning moves, Kf1, Kf2, Rh3 and the attractive Rf3+, when, if Black captures, it’s White who has a skewer.

Next time we’ll look at some slightly more complicated endings with rook and pawn against rook, so stay tuned.

Richard James