King & Pawn vs King Endgame

Another chess night is upon us, Decorah Chess Club fans and members! Looking forward to seeing many of you out at The Landing tonight (4/13/22, 6-9pm). I’m certain that Pulpit Rock Brewery will see some spillover games along with a few last minute fresh ones from 9-10pm.

King & Pawn vs King Endgame

Sometime tonight, make sure that you get with someone to understand the king & pawn vs king endgame. I’ll give a brief introduction at the beginning of the night. On your own with whoever you’re playing, sneak some practice in.

There are three different set-ups below that you should master as both white and black. Let’s go through them one at a time.

White or Black to move. White should be able to promote.

If it is white’s move, a good move is to gain the “opposition” by playing Kc4. If white were to move the pawn (either one or two spaces), black will then have the capability of drawing the game! This is why you need to practice these situations and learn the rules.

White’s goal here in taking the oppostion is to eventually force black off of the c-file and keep black off the c-file. Then, and only then, advance the pawn!

If it were black to play, they might try something like Kc7 to try tempting white into making a mistake and bringing forward the pawn. If white does so, black can draw by taking the opposition with Kd6

If it is white to play, white can promote. Black to play, black can draw.

Just like the first board, white must gain the opposition with Kc4. If black stays on the c-file with … Kc7, white answers by following black and maintaining the position with Kc5. The first time black steps off the file (say with something like …Kd7) in an attempt to try and go around the king to grab the pawn, the white king can step off in the opposite direction with Kb6.

Again, depending on what black does, white can respond accordingly and promote the pawn and win. If black moves toward the pawn with …Kd6, white can now safely advance the pawn.  If black moves back into the c-file with …Kc8, white needs to immediately take the opposition with Kc6 forcing black to move back off the c-file.

White or Black to move? Doesn’t matter; black can draw.

Equally important to knowing how to promote a pawn with white in these endgames, is to be able to shut white down when you are black and draw the game rather than lose. The general rule to follow is to take the opposition when you can, and if you can’t return to the c-file in such a way white cannot take the opposition back.

By the time pieces move to the back rank, black can eventually make white make the ultimate decision of leaving his pawn unprotected, or placing the game in stalemate.

When you feel comfortable and confident with this particular endgame, your game will have improved significantly!

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