“What Say You?” The 1 Minute Challenge (19)

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer”
Bruce Lee

A quick reminder how to do it:

  • Have a look at the position for 1 minute (watch the clock)
  • Think about the choices in front of you and pick the one you feel it is right
  • Verify it in your mind the best you can
  • Compare it with the solution

I picked this position of the internet. It is perfect for practicing king and pawn endgames. I could not find out who the author is or who the players were if it is the last part of a game. Please be kind to let me know if you happen to know this information. It is Black to move and win; for this you have 3 choices. Which one would you pick?

If you still practice your endgame on a regular basis, solving this puzzle is relatively simple. Looking at the position we identify the following:
A passed pawn – we need to use the rule of the square (a good source is level 3, lesson 26 of our chess app)
Pawns facing each other on the king side – the possibility of a pawn breakthrough needs to be explored (a good source is level 3, lesson 28 of our chess app)
Zugzwang (level 3, lesson 20 of our chess app) must be part of it as most of the times is the case in such endgames
If you have identified the above thematic elements of the position, I am confident you also understood they need to be taken into consideration in that particular order.

A passed pawn
We need to use the rule of the square to clarify if Kg8 can catch the b3-pawn or not. If it does, Black could think about moving a pawn. If it does not, Black must choose option A 1… Kf7 We count how many squares are in front of the b3-pawn to promote = 5; now we count the rows between the b3-pawn and Kg8 = 5. In this case Kg8 does not have to move to catch the b3-pawn.
Pawns facing each other on the king side
In order win Black must use a pawn breakthrough to create a passed pawn of it’s own. The only pawns capable to do that are the g4- and h4-pawns. So far so good. This tells us we need to focus on them.
1… h3 forces White’s hand 2. gxh3 … and now
2… gxh3 3. Kf2 … and the white King takes care of both black pawns, while the b3-pawn plays the role of a decoy. Here White wins
2… g3 3. f4 … the White king again takes care of both Black pawns and White wins with ease having two passed pawns
Looking at the above the only option to play is 1… g3 bringing us to the last thematic element.
Zugzwang
After 1… g3 the options for White are reduced drastically. The f3- and g2-pawns are blocked, the White king must stay there to stop the h4-h3 breakthrough and the b3-pawn will eventually be caught and captured; after that happens, Black would bring his king to the king side and help its pawns promote This is the correct solution. If you got it and figured out all or most of the thoughts above, you did really good. Replay the solution to make sure all is accurate.

Valer Eugen Demian

Author: Valer Eugen Demian

The player - my first serious chess tournament was back in 1974, a little bit late for today's standards. Over the years I have had the opportunity to play all forms of chess from OTB to postal, email and server chess. The journey as a player brought me a lot of experience and a few titles along the way: FIDE CM (2012), ICCF IM (2001) and one ICCF SIM norm (2004). The instructor - my career as a chess teacher and coach started in 1994 and continues strong. I have been awarded the FIDE Instructor title (2007) for my work and have been blessed with great students reaching the highest levels (CYCC, NAYCCC, Pan-Am, WYCC). I am very proud of them! See my website for more information. I have developed my own chess curriculum on 6 levels based on my overall chess knowledge and hands-on experience. A glimpse of it can be seen in my first chess app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chessessentials/id593013634?mt=8 I can help you learn chess the proper way if this is what you seek!