Daily Chess Improvement: Must Know Endgame!

This is another one of those must know endgame

White to move. Win, lose, or draw? How should white proceed?

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No. 1-1
Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

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1.Kb2 without having to think about it. The main point is that only this move prevents the queen from infiltrating into a3, a2, and b1. Just to give a quit example of what I am talking about consider the rook moves along the c-file:

1.Rc7?? Qd2!

This threatens 2.....Qa6+ winning the rook if white plays either Ka1 or Ka3, so white must play.....

2.Kb1

And now black infiltrates the a-file successfully.....

2.............Qa5!

White now tries to keep the king away from the lower ranks by returning to c4...

3.Rc4

But black finishes the first task:

3.............Qa3!

To protect the pawn, white is now forced to play......

4.Kc2!

This is the longest defense- if white tries a move like 4.Rc3, black will play 4.....Kd4 and then if white tries 5.Rc4+, the black king gets to the third rank and cuts off the white king from c2 to protect the pawn which now falls. Additionally, if at move 5 white tries 5.Rh3, black then plays 5........Qa8 threatening to check from g2 if white brings the king to b2/c2- this basically forces white to allow the black king to get into either b4 or d2, either of which will eventually doom the pawn. The entire point of the fortress set up is to prevent the enemy king from being able to attack the pawn that protects the rook when the rook comes to c4, and the rook is there to prevent the black king from ever reaching b4 or d3. So, after 4.Kc2, black now continues to constrain the white king's domain with....

5...............Qa2!

White has only

6.Kc3

Black continues to squeeze.....

6..............Qb1

White now finds it difficult to find a move- the best is....

7.Rd4

This makes black life the most difficult because in this set up, white can play checks from c4, b4 and a4 if black insists on moving to c5, b5, and a5 getting nowhere and having to repeat moves to reach the position below, but a little thought can show black the way by playing.......

7................Ke5!

White now has to bring the rook back to c4...

8.Rc4

Now the queen continues the squeeze......

8.............Qc1!

White is forced to play....

9.Kb4

Black has tons of winning moves, but the most direct is....

9.............Qb2

This makes difficult to find a good move. White can't play 10.Rc3 because of 10.....Qd2 pinning the rook and threatening check from d4 if white plays 11.Kc4. The best move I can see is .....

10.Ka4

Now black closes back in on the rook...

10............Kd5

From this point, the best I can tell you is to consult the Nalimov tablebase rather than rely on this analysis. I can describe the methods, but it would take me all day to do them all justice. The last thing I would mention is that back at move 1, if white plays 1.Rc8, black varies the initial approach with 1.....Qe2+ rather than 1......Qd2+ because it is necessary to be able to threaten the double attack from a6 in that variation.



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