A Practical King and Pawn Ending

The following game, from the 2007 Kenilworth Chess Club Championship illustrates the value of knowing some practical chess endings. Immediately after the game, NM Kernighan and FM Steve Stoyko (who had been watching the final moves) demonstrated the winning procedure. The basic ending is covered very well by Paul Keres in his wonderful book, Practical Chess Endings. -- Michael Goeller

John Moldovan (1774) - Mark Kernighan (2200) [D17]

Kenilworth Club Championship - open/Kenilworth, NJ (7) 2007


1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 e6 8. f3 a6?! 9. e4 Bg6 10. Bd3 b5 11. axb5 axb5 12. Rxa8 Qxa8 13. Ne3 Bb4 14. O-O Qa7 15. Qc2?? O-O? 16. Ne2 Nb8? 17. Bd2 Bxd2 18. Qxd2 Rd8 19. Kh1? c5! 20. Bxb5 cxd4 21. Qd3? Qb6 22. Rd1 e5 23. Ng3 Rc8? 24. Nef5 Qc5 25. Qb3 h5 26. Bd3 Nc6??










27. Qb7! Re8 28. Qb5! Nd7 29. Qxc5 Nxc5 30. Bb5 h4? 31. Bxc6 Re6 32. Bd5 hxg3 33. Bxe6 fxe6 34. Ne7+ Kf7 35. Nxg6 Kxg6 36. hxg3 Nb3 37. Kg1 Kf7 38. Kf2 Ke7 39. f4 Kd6 40. Ke2 Nc5 41. Kf3 Nb3 42. Kg4?! Kc5 43. Kf3 Kd6 44. Rd3 Nc5 45. Ra3 Kc6 46. b4 Nd7 47. Rb3? Kb5 48. Ke2 Kc4 49. Rb1 Kc3 50. Rc1+? Kxb4 51. Kd3?? exf4?? 52. gxf4?! Nc5+ 53. Rxc5! Kxc5 54. g4 g6 55. g5 Kd6 56. Kxd4 e5+ 57. Ke3 Ke6 58. fxe5 Kxe5 59. Kf3 Ke6 60. Kf4 Kd6 61. Ke3 Ke5










62. Kf3

White has two ways to win, going right or going left. If he shifts left, he allows Black the option of counter-attacking the g-pawn (which also loses), but the procedure is more direct and the win faster that way. In both cases, if the Black King retreats, White must force back the Black King with his pawn, then sacrifice that pawn on the 7th rank in order to claim the opposition and win Black's remaining pawn.

 

Once the White King is on the sixth rank in front of his pawn, the rest is a forced win, as is well known. The problem is that, in the diagrammed position, White has no way to force the Black King back so that he can get in front of his passed pawn and force it to the Queening square--hence the necessity of sacrificing the first pawn in order to Queen the second.

 

Here is John Moldovan's analysis:

a) 62. Kf3 For example : 62... Ke6 63. Ke2! Ke5 64. Ke3 This is not a 3-fold repetition because the 1st 2 x it was White to move. 64... Ke6 65. Kd4 Kd6 66. e5+ Ke6 67. Ke4 Ke7 68. Kd5 Kd7 69. e6+ Ke7 70. Ke5 Ke8 71. Kd6 Kd8 72. e7+ Ke8 73. Kd5 Kxe7 74. Ke5 Kf7 75. Kd6 Kf8 76. Ke6 Kg7 77. Ke7 Kg8 78. Kf6 Kh7 79. Kf7 Kh8 80. Kxg6 Kg8 81. Kh6 Kh8 82. g6 Kg8 83. g7 Kf7 84. Kh7 and wins.

 

b) 62. Kd3! Kf4 63. Kd4 Kxg5 64. e5 Kf5 (64... Kf4 65. e6 g5 66. e7 g4) 65. Kd5 g5 66. e6 Kf6 67. Kd6 g4 68. e7 g3 69. e8=Q g2 etc and White wins.

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This basic endgame is well discussed by Paul Keres in Practical Chess Endings (1973). Keres does a better job of covering this specific position with the pawns close to each other than any other writer I consulted. I have illustrated the most common examples, but he offers more, including an interesting discussion of an example where the blocked pawns are on the a- or h-file, which can require some care to avoid a draw (for which I refer you to his excellent book, which every player should own).


Diagram #17 - Paul Keres

Practical Chess Endings/Batsford 1974 (1973)


62. d5 Kd7

62... Kc5 63. Ke5 Kxb5 64. d6 Kc6 65. Ke6

63. Ke5 Ke7 64. d6+ Kd8!

64... Kd7 65. Kd5

65. d7!

65. Ke6?! Ke8 66. d7+ Kd8 67. Ke5 Kxd7 68. Kd5

65. Kd5? Kd7! 66. Ke5 Kd8

65... Kxd7

65... Ke7 66. d8=Q+ Kxd8 67. Kd6

66. Kd5 Kc7 67. Ke6 1-0


Diagram #18 - Paul Keres

Practical Chess Endings/Batsford 1974 (1973)


1. d4 Kc4

1... Kd6? 2. Ke4 Ke6 3. d5+ Kd7 4. Ke5 Ke7 5. d6+ Kd7 6. Kd5 Kd8 7. Kc5

2. Ke4 Kxb4 3. d5 Kc5

3... Kc3? 4. d6 b4 5. d7 b3 6. d8=Q b2 7. Qd3+

4. Ke5 b4 5. d6 b3

5... Kc6 6. Ke6

6. d7 b2 7. d8=Q b1=Q 8. Qc8+ Kb4 9. Qb7+ 1-0

 

The same procedure does not work, however, if the blocked pawns are on the f- or c-file due to a well-known Queen versus Pawn ending that can result.


Diagram #19 - Paul Keres

Practical Chess Endings/Batsford 1974 (1973)


1. e4 Kd4 2. Kf4 Kxc4 3. e5 Kb3!! 4. e6 c4 5. e7 c3 6. e8=Q c2 7. Qe1 Kb2 8. Qb4+ Ka1!

8... Kc1?? 9. Ke3 Kd1 10. Qd2#

9. Qc3+ Kb1 10. Qb3+ Ka1!=

Now 11.Qxc2 is stalemate, of course, so the draw is clear. Note that the White King is just one square too far away to assist.

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