For details on which squares are the key squares, see our recent post on key squares!
Your Turn!Find the win: This is an interesting little position. The black defence is held by a thread. Black's king cannot leave his lone pawn defender on c7. The king is also very happy on c8.
After the patient 1. d5! black is forced onto either 1...Kb8 or 1...Kd8 after which white can play 2. Kd7 or 2. Kb7 (not 2. b6 or 2. d6 as black can defend with the superb 2...Kc8!)
If it was white to play in the resulting position:
We have the horrible realisation that not only is c7 a firm blockader, it decides the draw. White can make no progress!
- White will eventually have to give up one of the pawns for the c pawn, at which time his king will be able to hold the draw against the other!
- The white king is held hostage by his own pawns.
- d4-d5 is a vital tempo
Three things you will learn today
- Strategically, a pawn on the second is stronger than one on the third!
- Get the king into a great position first, then the pawns
- How to solve the Capablanca study
Part 1 of 3 - Second is better than the third rank for a pawn!Let's start with an example to support our outrageous claim!
This is a very famous endgame position.
Before we dive into any calculations, let's first see that we have an extra move choice here compared to the position below.
The pawn on g2 has the possibility to go to g3 or g4.
- The main line runs 1. Kf2! h4 2. Kg1!! Kd7 3. Kh2 Ke6 4. Kh3 Kf5 5. Kxh4 (white has reached a key square and will win)
- If black pushes the pawn hoping for a draw - 2...h3!? 3. g3!! and white will win after 3...Kd7 4. Kh2 Ke6 5. Kxh3 Kf5 6. Kh4 and white has reached a key square after 6...Kg6 7. Kg4 Kh6 8. Kf5 (Note 3. g4?? draws as white cannot reach the key squares in time!)
There is a huge difference in this position. White no longer has the option of g3.
After 1. Kf2 h4! and white has the unenviable choice between 2. gxh4 and black gets to h8 in time or 2. g4 where white can never get to the f6-h6 squares in time, since black can decoy the white king with h3 and get the black king to g5.
Summary of Part 1The option of moving a pawn to either the third or fourth from its starting square doubles the options compared to having a pawn on the third.
Part 2 of 3 - Improve the King then the pawnsFollowing our discussion on key squares, we learned that we want to get our king to a key square.
The more time we spend with moving our pawn, the more we remove time "tempo" for our king to get to a key square. The best approach is then:
- Get the king to a key square (a5 to c5) as the pawn is not vulnerable
- When the defending king concedes ground, push the pawn forward
Summary of Part 2The king and pawn must work in tandem. The King should first get to a key square, then we push the pawn on.
Part 3 of 3 - Capablanca's StudyUsing the knowledge we've acquired up to here, we are going to solve the Capablanca study.
Summary of extra tempo
- A tempo is a unit measure of time - one move
- When you have "reserve" tempo, use them correctly. Like the wishes, once they are gone, they are gone!
- The Capablanca study is a brilliant exposition of using these extra tempo
- We must use the king to the best of its ability first then use the extra tempo to convert the pawns to queens