Saturday, February 4, 2012

Endgame Test - Black to Move

Black to move and DRAW!!!!

This move corrects an error in the Reuben Fine's book on page 29, #41C where it claims an easy win for White. But this is not so.

No cheating, but be sure to correct your copy if you have one.

Here are your four choices of moves for Black:

A. Kh8
B. Kh7
C. Kf8
D. g6

For the answer and a detailed description, you can write me at lcchess at yahoo dot com. - Mike

Hat tip to Larry Crum of Louisville, KY and the Chess Life magazine.


  1. IMHO the important things to remember here are the general principles, namely correspondence of squares and producing a passed pawn. Ironically, white isn't trying to get a passed h-pawn, for that would do him no good. Instead, he is trying to get a passed g-pawn and cover the g8 promotion square. With this in mind, finding a solution (a correct defense) is easy.

    Pushing the g-pawn is a non-starter.

    1. .. g6?
    2. h6! ..
    A mistake would be 2. hxg6 Kg7! 3. Kf5 Kg8! with the opposition. White's extra g-pawn doesn't't help since all it would do is close the stalemating net on 4. Kf6 Kf8 5. g7+ Kg8 6. g6 1/2-1/2.
    2. .. Kh8 (Kf8 drops the g-pawn outright to Kf6)
    3. Kf6 Kh7
    4. Kf7
    The black king is forced from the g-pawn, and white will eventually queen.


    1. .. Kh8?
    Any move that lets white's king come closer to the black g-pawn is a mistake, as we'll see.
    2. Kf7 ..
    Black is dangerously short of moves and white is in contact with the g-pawn and g8 square now.
    2. .. Kh7
    3. g6+ Kh6
    If 3. .. Kh8, then 4. h6! and black must take and allow mate in 2.
    4. Kg8 Kxh5
    5. Kxg7
    With the black king cut off, white easily queens and wins.


    On 1. .. Kh7, we get a similar theme, but with some nuances.
    1. .. Kh7?
    2. Kf7 Kh8
    3. Kf8! ..
    Avoiding the plausible but bad 3. h6? black plays 3. .. Kh7! when neither 4. hxg7 1/2-1/2 (stalemate) nor 4. g6+ Kxh5 (black actually winning!) works.
    3. .. Kh7
    4. g6+ transposing to the above line and winning.

    So, that leaves Kf8!

    1. .. Kf8!
    This keeps the white king from penetrating to the g-pawn and holds the draw. White has one try...
    2. g6 Kg8
    Now black can go into the corner since the danger of stalemate is real if white pursues. Note 2. .. Ke8 apparently keeping the opposition is blunder here since white plays 3. h6! gxh6 4. g7 and queens.
    3. Ke7 Kh8
    White can make no further progress since 4. h6 leads to a draw after 4. .. Kg8! (not 4. .. gxh6 5. Kf7 winning). White has nothing better than giving black his wish with 5. h7+ Kh8 1/2-1/2.

    1. You know, I got the idea for this from my chess ending's lesson from you a week ago! Thanks JC.