Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 22

While playing single minor piece endgames, the defending side has a deadly weapon to draw a game. That is to trade the attacker’s last pawn (usually) against his own piece because a single minor piece can’t checkmate and sometimes even with the help of a rook’s pawn. But how many of you actually recognize this in practice. Here few positions are given to test your knowledge.

Example 1 – Black to Move

Q:How could you save the game?
Hint: A knight can never lose a tempo
A: Black can save the day as follows:

1…Nxg4

Sacrificing whole piece against pawn as white’s knight won’t be able to help his king from getting out of prison

2. Nxg4

This is now a draw because White’s knight can never control the f7 square when the Black king is on f8.

Example 2 – Shirov against Mascarinass – Black to move
This example has been taken from Grandmaster Secrets: Endings by Andrew Soltis.


Q: Black is a piece down for two pawns, are two pawns worth the bishop here?
Hint: White has the wrong colour Bishop
A: Black can save the game with
1…b5!!

The only move that forces to release the control of e5 or g4.

2. Bxb5

If 2.Kc5 then 2…Ke5 or if 2.Bd1 then 2…b4 and b3 which forces White to release the control of one of the squares.

2…g4 3. hxg4

Forced, otherwise …gxh3 on the next move is simple enough to draw the game.

3…Kg5

Threatening to capture the pawn with king as far as c6 and d7 squares are available to White’s bishop
If 3…fxg4 then 4. Kd4 and now 4…Kg5 5.Ke5, 4…g3 5.Bd7 or 4…h3 then 5.g3 followed by Bc6 is winning.

4. gxf5 h3! 5. gxf3 Kxf5

The position is now drawn as g3 or g4 won’t work because the c6 square is not available to White’s bishop.

Ashvin Chauhan