Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A botched ending! Remember your fortresses!

Given the amount of time I put into studying King & Pawn endings, I was frustrated to lose the following drawn position in Mar Del Plata. Have a quick play through the game below then read the 'drawing techniques'.

White has just played Re2 and I thought I could draw the ending by playing Rxe2, Kxe2, f4 (assuming gxf4 was just bad for white) and then Ke5 when my King can choose between King and Queenside, and white's King is somewhat hostage to black's potential activity.

Things to realise about the King + Pawn ending:
  1. Black can never collect white's Queenside pawns. If black gets the king to b2, white plays b4!! and then c5, and Black can't catch the pawn. This should change your valuation of the position considerably! It's a draw at best for black, and he will need to somehow keep the white King at bay on the King-side. It may have been easier to keep the rooks on!
  2. There are two very simple drawing structures black should know, once we reach this position the game is drawn:
Black draws by taking the King to b8 (thanks to the fortress below.)

From Lamprecht and Mueller's "Secrets of King & Pawn Endings" which I recommend to everyone!
This is a draw. White can never take black's a-pawn.

Live and learn!


  1. Hi Paul, I think there is also a draw after 40..Kd4, as your point about a king going to b2 can be overcome if black throws in ..a5 first. eg. 41.Kh5 Kc3 42.Kxh6 a5. From this position, it takes both sides 7 moves to promote, and black's king is nearer to the action :)

  2. And thanks for sharing this ending, I've already analysed it with some of my students :)

  3. good point! Thanks for your help with it. The sideline with gxf4 is interesting too, I couldn't understand why 39. a5! should be different to 39. h5?? because the amount of moves on the QS to Queen is the same for white (you've spent a move, they've spent a move) The shortcut to understanding for me was just "a5 should be played as it CAN'T be bad".

  4. Never experienced this when I played chess.

  5. Hi Paul,

    If you get a chance, take a look at www.chessmicrobase.com

    It hopefully is an easier (and better looking) way to annotate and share games on your blog. There are quite a few features which have yet to be released - but I think it's ready for a test-run if you've got the time.

    Feedback most welcome!

    (Chess Guru)

  6. Hi Dave, think I've seen Carl & Kerry using it. Will give it a shot.