We have discussed endgame ideas and endgame tactics in earlier articles but those mostly covered the theory aspect of utilizing your pieces and pawns in an effective manner. You have also seen two chess game positions from actual play that explained how you need to think to some depth to convert your slight advantages into a winning position.
When you have a better position in an endgame, all you need is to apply the techniques you have learned to get the win you deserve. But in positions which look nearly equal, you have to proceed differently.
You should first identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of your and your opponent’s position, and try to see the lines that look promising. Then select the best line and this is where you need your calculating skills. These skills will develop through practice and such practice is best possible by analyzing endgame positions from master plays.
Study how the win was achieved, but do not stop there. Check if the losing side had some option that could save the game for him. Check through drawn games and see if either of the players missed some line that could change the result in his/her favor. Such efforts on your part will hone your skills in deep calculations. With practice, you will not find it such a daunting task, particularly as there will not be many pieces on board and only few lines will be worth pursuing.
In this article, we will see two end game positions that demonstrate both offensive and defensive tactics – for forcing a win from near equal position or snatching a draw from a situation all but lost!
You can see that White has a better material position because of two Rooks and three pawns against Rook and Knight with two pawns for Black. It is White’s move now, but all Black needs to win is a single move of Qg2+ and so White cannot afford to waste any move!
White noted that the Black Queen had the Knight to support it but the Knight at the moment was pinned. Black King and Queen were in one line and so the Queen could possibly be ‘skewered’ if the Knight support could be removed! Black’s second move shows that he understood the danger but could not do anything against White’s brilliant sacrifices!
This is how White realized his aim:
Black cannot avoid losing the Queen. If 4… Kxg5 5. Qg7+ and depending on Black King’s move to h5 or f5, White uses Qh7+ or Qd7+ to capture Black Queen. If 4… fxg5 5. Qd7+ does the same.
You see that after all, there are really not so many options to consider in many positions if you can read the situation and the calculations also are not very difficult always!
Here Black is decidedly in an inferior position with a Rook and Pawn against White’s Rook and three Pawns, one of which is a passed pawn and only a short way from being promoted. White’s Rook is in the ideal position of standing behind the passed pawn and also protecting against a back row check by Black Rook. All that is necessary for White to win is to keep pushing the NP to the eighth rank. Or is it?
Black depended on White’s ‘natural’ move to take a last chance for salvaging the game! This is how it went:
If White were not so confident of his win and tried to understand Black’s move, he would have played Kf1 and that would foil Black’s ploy! This shows that you can never afford to disregard anything that may be happening on the board.
In Two more plays to enhance your chess endgame ideas, we will examine more ideas in chess endgames.