Endings

The Trebuchet

In an all-parent encounter last week, the players stumbled upon this position, known as the Trebuchet. A trebuchet is a big wooden catapult, and its connection with this position is not known, except that it may catapult a player from joy to despair...

--------
--------
--------
--------
--------
----Kp--
-----Pk-
--------

Normally, it's an advantage for it to be your turn so you can get on with your plan, but in this position, whoever has to move next, loses! Can you see how?

Who would win in a fight between a lion and a bear? (endgame fortresses)

My young colleague Leif enjoys endgames, and has an endless curiosity about unbalanced endgames. So he asks:
can you win with three pawns against a Bishop?
how about a Knight?
what about two Knights?

A pattern we kept running into was:
united pawns on their start squares don't win against a piece (a)
united and *advanced* pawns win against a piece (b)
but
there are some special cases where the side with the piece can set up a blockade or fortressagainst advanced pawns (c)

[pgn]
[Event "Fortress (a)"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.07"]
[Round "?"]
[White "KPPP"]
[Black "KB"]

Jokes

I usually have about my person some positions to amuse young players at the end of an evening.

Here are some of my favourites:

Problems
Hints
Solutions

Problems.

White to play and...

1. Mate in half a move (?)

--------
--------
----Q---
--------
N-------
---k----
--------
R-K-----

2. Mate in 6 (Halumbirek)

K-k-----
P-Pp----
-p-P----
--------
p-------
P--P----
--------
--------

3. Mate in 2 (?)

RNB----k
--------
-------K
--------
--------
--------
pppppppp
--------

4. Mate Black without taking a pawn (Brown)

Passed Pawn Pandemonium

Passed pawn tactics: the breakthrough

[Event "passed pawns"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "PPPvsppp"]
[Black "breakthrough"]
[Result "*"]
[FEN "k7/5ppp/8/5PPP/8/8/8/K7 w - - 0 1"]
[Setup "1"]

{A familiar idea} *

*

[pgn]
[Event "Chess Choice Challenge"]
[Site "Test 1/18"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "KNPPPP"]
[Black "KNPPP"]
[Result "*"]
[FEN "5n2/7p/4pNp1/4P1P1/5P1P/4k3/1K6/8 w - - 0 1"]
[Setup "1"]

{Our analysis ran:}

Rook and Pawn endgames strike back

I've done more than one session on this topic in the past, so the
examples are all already on the website, but some pointers for newcomers
might be helpful:

A. Many Rook and Pawns endgames can be judged as win or drawn at a
glance, some are more critical. Some basic cases with one side a pawn
up have been worked out and must be learned:

1. Philidor's position shows how to draw when your King has control of
the Queening square.

2. Lucena's positions shows how to win when the defending King does not
have control of the Queening square.

Basic Rook Endgames

We lost on board count to old rivals Teignmouth in the Peter Rooke Cup
at the end of January. One of the last games to finish involved a
simple-looking Rook endgame. Just as it was getting crucial, White,
short of time, found a time-saving blunder:

[Event "Exeter vs Teignmouth"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.01.26"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Gorodi"]
[Black "Pope"]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/8/8/4k1R1/4p3/r7/5K2 b - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "1"]

1...Kf3 0-1

So what should the result have been? I discussed it briefly with my

Mate with King and Rook against a King

The easiest way to learn is to remember the checkmate position:

[Event "checkmate"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2012.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "KR"]
[Black "K"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "R5k1/8/6K1/8/8/8/8/8 b - - 0 37"]
[PlyCount "0"]

* 1-0

You get checkmate at the edge of the board. You can force the defending King to the edge of the board by using the same idea:

[pgn]
[Event "Forcing position"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2012.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "KR"]
[Black "K"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/6k1/R7/6K1/8/8/8 w - - 0 23"]
[PlyCount "3"]

Endgame study

Two things to think about today: a study by Dierdle and a game by Capa. We did each as an exercise, trying to work out the best moves for each side.

[Event "K+P vs K+P"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1921.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator "Dierdle"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/6k1/8/8/p7/8/1PK5/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "12"]

*

[pgn]
[Event "Havana"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1913.??.??"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Capablanca, Jose"]
[Black "Kupchik, Abraham"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C49"]
[PlyCount "135"]
[EventDate "1913.??.??"]

Endgame workout

The simplest mutual full-point Zugzwangs

Tim came to the club buzzing with these a few weeks ago.

[Skip intro]

A Zugzwang (German: forced move) is a chess position where, if it's your turn to move, you lose, and if your opponent has the move, you might be OK.

Here's an example from one of my own games: anything White does loses. We say, White is in Zugzwang.

--------
p----p--
-p-bp---
r----k--
---P-P--
--P---K-
P----R--
B-------

Black can doodle happily with pawn moves, but any move of a white Pawn or piece loses at least a Pawn. White in fact threw himself on the sword with

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Chess Quotes

"It's always better to sacrifice your opponent's men."
— -- TARTAKOVER