3. Pawn Endings

I shall now give a couple of simple endings of two Pawns against one, or three against two, that the reader may see how they can be won. Fewer explanations will be given, as it is up to the student to work things out for himself. Furthermore, nobody can learn how to play well merely from the study of a book; it can only serve as a guide and the rest must be done by the teacher, if the student has one; if not, the student must realise by long and bitter experience the practical application of the many things explained in the book.

Example 7

1.Kd7 Kg8 2.Ke7 Kh8 3.f6 gxf6 4.Kf7 f5 5.g7+ Kh7 6.g8=Q+ Kh6 7.Qg6#
1.Kd7 Kg8 2.Ke7 Kh8 3.f6 gxf6 4.Kf7 f5 5.g7+ Kh7 6.g8=Q+ Kh6 7.Qg6#

In this position White cannot win by playing 1.f6, because Black plays, not 1…gxf6, which would lose, but 1…Kg8, and if then 2.fxg7, and draws, as shown in a previous case. If 2.f7+ Kf8, and White will never be able to Queen his Pawn without losing it. If 2.Ke7 gxf6 3.K×f6 Kf8, and draws. White, however, can win the position given in the diagram by playing 1.Kd7.

1…Kg8 2.Ke7 Kh8 3.f6 gxf6. If 3…Kg8 then 4.f7+ Kh8 5.f8=Q#.

4.Kf7 f5 5.g7+ Kh7 6.g8=Q+ Kh6 7.Qg6#.


Example 8

1.Ke4 Ke6 2.f5+ Kf6 3.Kf4 g6 4.g5+ Kf7 5.f6 Ke6 6.Ke4 Kf7 7.Ke5 Kf8 8.f7 Kxf7 9.Kd6 Kf8 10.Ke6 Kg7 11.Ke7 Kg8 12.Kf6 Kh7 13.Kf7 Kh8 14.Kxg6 Kg8 15. Kh6 Kh8 16.g6 Kg8 17.g7 Kf7 18.Kh7
1.Ke4 Ke6 2.f5+ Kf6 3.Kf4 g6 4.g5+ Kf7 5.f6 Ke6 6.Ke4 Kf7 7.Ke5 Kf8 8.f7 Kxf7 9.Kd6 Kf8 10.Ke6 Kg7 11.Ke7 Kg8 12.Kf6 Kh7 13.Kf7 Kh8 14.Kxg6 Kg8 15. Kh6 Kh8 16.g6 Kg8 17.g7 Kf7 18.Kh7

In the above position White can’t win by 1.f5. Black’s best answer would be g6 draws. (The student should work this out.)

He cannot win by 1.g5, because g6 draws. (This, because of the principle of the ‘opposition’ which governs this ending as well as all the Pawn-endings already given, and which will be explained more fully later on.) White can win, however, by playing: 1.Ke4.

1…Ke6. (If 1…g6, then 2.Kd4 Ke6 3.Kc5 Kf6 4.Kd6 Kf7 5.g5 Kg7 6.Ke7 Kg8 7.Kf6 Kh7 8.Kf7 and White wins the Pawn.)

2.f5+ Kf6 3.Kf4 g6. (If this Pawn is kept back we arrive at the ending shown in Example 7.) 4.g5+ Kf7 5.f6 Ke6 6.Ke4 Kf7 7.Ke5 Kf8. White cannot force his f-pawn into a Queen (find out why), but by giving his Pawn up he can win the other Pawn and the game. Thus: 8.f7 Kxf7 9.Kd6 Kf8 10.Ke6 Kg7 11.Ke7 Kg8 12.Kf6 Kh7 13.Kf7 Kh8 14.Kxg6 Kg8. There is still some resistance in Black’s position. In fact, the only way to win is the one given here, as will easily be seen by experiment. 15.Kh6 Kh8 16.g6 Kg8 17.g7 Kf7 18.Kh7, and White queens the Pawn and wins.

This ending, apparently so simple, should show the student the enormous difficulties to be surmounted, even when there are hardly any pieces left, when playing against an adversary who knows how to use the resources at his disposal, and it should show the student, also, the necessity of paying strict attention to these elementary things which form the basis of true mastership in Chess.

Example 9

1.f5 Ke7 2.Ke5 Kf7 3.g5 Ke7 4.h5 g6 5.hxg6 hxg6 6.f6+
1.f5 Ke7 2.Ke5 Kf7 3.g5 Ke7 4.h5 g6 5.hxg6 hxg6 6.f6+

In this ending White can win by advancing any of the three pawns on the first move, but it is convenient to follow the general rule, whenever there is no good reason against it, of advancing the pawn that has no pawn opposing it.

1.f5 Ke7.

If 1…g6 2.f6 and we have a similar ending to one of those shown above. If 1…h6 2.g5.

2.Ke5 Kf7 3.g5 Ke7.

If 3…g6 4.f6 and if 3…h6 4.g6+ and in either case we have a similar ending to one of those already shown.

4.h5

and by following it up with g5-g6 we have the same ending previously shown. Should Black play 4…g6, then g6 5.hxg6 hxg6 6.f6+ with the same result.

Having now seen the case when the pawn are all on one side of the board we shall now examine a case when there are pawns on both sides of the board.

Example 10

In these cases the general rule is to act immediately on the side where you have the superior forces. Thus we have:

1.g4 a5 2.a4 Kf6 3.h4 Ke6 4.g5 Kf7 5.Kf5 Kg7 6.h5 Kf7 7.Ke5
1.g4 a5 2.a4 Kf6 3.h4 Ke6 4.g5 Kf7 5.Kf5 Kg7 6.h5 Kf7 7.Ke5

1.g4

It is generally advisable to advance the Pawn that is free from opposition.

1…a5

Black makes an advance on the other side, and now White considers whether or not he should stop the advance. In this case either way wins, but generally the advance should be stopped when the opposing King is far away.

2.a4 Kf6 3.h4 Ke6

If 3…Kg6 then the simple counting will show that White goes to the other side with his King, wins the pawn at a5, and then Queens his single pawn long before Black can do the same.

4.g5 Kf7 5.Kf5 Kg7 6.h5 Kf7

If 6…h6 7.g6 and then the two pawns defend themselves and White can go to the other side with his King, to win the other pawn.

7.Ke5

Now is the time to go to the other side with the King, win the Black pawn an Queen the single pawn. This is typical of all such endings and should be worked out by the student in this case and in similar cases which he can put up.