Endgame Study – Ready? Draw!

The Study Position

Following on from our recent K + P endgame study, we look at another K+P ending with a focus on some other key ideas.

This following position is a great man v machine struggle:

A machine will eventually work out the answer by brute force but for a human this is hard, so we are going to look at "target positions" and a little more about opposition.

Knowing how to draw has its benefits

As with the last two puzzles, full credit goes to the "Dvoretsky Endgame Manual".
Hopefully the way the analysis is expressed on this blog is a nice complement to the manual's wonderfully instructive teaching!

Opposition

We will look at opposition in more detail and we wanted to share a beautiful study:

Opposition is about facing the opponent and forcing them to move.

In this fantastic study, white retreats to leave black with no win 1. Kh1!! This is really superb.

  • A retreat is often missed in analysis
  • It lines the kings up; note 1. Kf1 Kd2! 2. Kf2 Kd3 and white is blocked by his own pawn!
  • White simply copies black's king so the technique is easy!
Any attempt to push the pawns results in an exchange of the f3 and a drawn K+P ending. Super stuff!

Sometimes you just know the position

This is a strange position and may be a little alien to many. White looks considerably better but in fact, with Black to move, it's drawn!

[Event "Example - King v Pawn & King"] [Site "Chess Toolkit (Author = TQM.)"] [Date "12/03/2017"] [White "Player, A"] [Black "Opponent, Anne"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "N/A"] [Annotator "TQM"] [SetUp "1"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2017"] [FEN "8/1k6/1p6/1K6/P1P5/8/8/8 b"] 1...Kc7!(1...Ka7 {loses as the king gets squeezed out.} 2. Kc6 Ka6 3. Kd7! {cleverly waiting and using the extra file} 3...Kb7 4. Kd6 Kb8 5. Kc6 Ka7 6. Kc7 Ka6 7. Kb8! Ka5 8. Kb7 Kb4 (8...Ka4 9. Kb6 Kb4 10. c5) 9. Kxb6 Kxc4 10. a5) 2. Ka6 Kc6 {and black will simply mirror white (so Ka7-Kc7, Ka8-Kc8)} 3. Ka7 Kc7 4. Ka6 Kc6 5. Ka7 Kc7 6. Ka8 Kc8

Solving our study

Besides knowing opposition is important, we have a position in our mind which we know is a draw.

A basic understanding of K+P endings also tells us that the a pawn is much harder to queen for the attacker than the c pawn.

[Event "Example - King v Pawn & King"] [Site "Chess Toolkit (Author = TQM.)"] [Date "12/03/2017"] [White "Player, A"] [Black "Opponent, Anne"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "N/A"] [Annotator "TQM"] [SetUp "1"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2017"] [FEN "8/8/1p6/1p6/k7/2P5/PK6/8 b"] 1...b4! {Black wastes no time in challenging white to simplify the position. Of course, without our prior knowledge, we would spend a lot more time trying to hold these pawns!} 2. c4 {White really has to make black prove himself} (2. cxb4 Kxb4 {is an immediate draw - if the king is ever pushed back, he can hold b6 - worst case, just hide in the corner and the a pawn will not promote!}) (2. Kc2? bxc3 {is a similarly drawn ending}) 2...b3! (2...Ka5 {heading for the set-up we know doesn't work, as white has a number of reserve tempi to use at the right moment:}) 3. a3 {the best chance to force a draw but losing a vital tempo!} (3. axb3 Kb4 {and after, for example:} 4. Kc2 b5! {white is forced to exchange one pawn and will walk into a drawn ending...} 5. cxb5 Kxb5 6. Kc3 Kc5 {etc.}) 3...Ka5 4. Kb3 Ka6 5. Kb4 Ka7! 6. Kb5 (6. a4 Kb7 7. Kb5 {and we are in the mainline}) Kb7 7. a4 {and we know the rest!} 7...Kc7 8. Ka6 Kc6 9. Ka7 Kc7 10. Ka8 Kc8! {and it's a draw!}
Hope you enjoyed the analysis and the study!