Year Book 2019-20 Contents
Thing of the Day
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Awkwardly Positioned Kings in Endings
A cornered king with its own pawn close behind can create problems for itself, one way or another.
In the following position, White can force a win because Black can be compelled to construct a smothered mate setting. The win for White is straight forward in a way, as White’s winning move sequence works irrespective of what Black does!
The mate is possible only because Black has the timewasting move 3. … g5. Without the black g-pawn, White cannot win by force.
Without the g-pawn, if the Black king started at h1 instead of h2, then 1. Nf6/h6 would allow a “helpmate” with 1. … Kh2?? 2. Ng4+ Kh1 3. Kf1 h2 4. Nf2#, but 1. Nf6/h6 should instead be met with 1. … h7! which draws by stalemate, or wins for Black after 2. Kg6?? (to avoid stalemate) Kg1 and 3. … h1=Q etc.
So, a number of tricky endings where one side has only K + N ultimately hinge on tempo, which the knight cannot “lose”.
The following position is an example of this tempo problem where the knight belongs to the cornered king. Here, Black to move, can draw. Given the chance, White will push the g-pawn and win by queening it.
How can Black, to move, draw?
In the solution, Black’s Kc8 is akin to king triangulation to get the opposition of K to K, but here it is the “opposition” of K to N.
In the following position, White, to move, can win by engineering a position where the Black king critically blocks the Black rook.
How does White, to move, win?
Admittedly, many of us might have some difficulty winning with K+Q v K+R in time-restricted match conditions,
but it is a theoretical win for K+Q. (A bit of a clue there!)