Chess Tactics: A protected passed pawn is a passport to win

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In the vision to combination article, we showed how the creation of a passed pawn and holding on to it can give a player tremendous advantage over his opponent, particularly in the end-game. Even if your opponent succeeds in preventing the pawn from queening, it is normally possible only with considerable loss of material and that again gives you enough advantage to chalk out a win!

In the following diagram, you can see that the players appear to have equal position in terms of material and position of the Kings. Rather, Black seems to have the disadvantage of doubled pawns. So it is interesting to note how Black prepares to create a passed pawn and hold on to it at any price!

The game was played between Martin Ortueta and Jose Sanz in Madrid in 1933 and the position is after 29 moves have been played.


30. h3 Rd2
31. Na4 Rxb2 White was trying to protect the NP, but Black captured it nonetheless to get his passed pawn!
31. a4 g4 32. hxg4 Rxb2 33. a5 Bxa5 34. Rxb2 Bxc3 35. Rc2 Bd4+ 36. Kf1 c3 gives enough passed pawns to win for Black
32. Nxb2 c3 Black is ready for 4. Nd3 c4+ 5. Rxb6 cxd3 and the Rook is helpless against the linked passed pawns
33. Rxb6 If 4. … hxb6 5. Nd3 c4 6. Nc1 to block the pawns
33. c4 To prevent Knight move to d3 and play c2
34. Rb4 If 5. … cxb2 6. Rxb2 or 5. … c2 6. Rxc4, winning in either case
34. a5 Black wins for both 6. Rb5 c2 or 6. Rxc4 cxb2
35. Nxc4 c2
36. Resigns

Isn’t it a beautiful end-game?


  1. Willian says:

    what is white would play :

    2. a4

  2. ChessMaster says:


    Thanks for your observation.

    I found this position from an old book and gave the moves as shown therein. Now looking at 31. a4 followed by 32. a5, I could not see a sure win (I do not have Rybka or Fritz to do an in-depth analysis for the position). So I made some more searches and it looks that the position might have been a doctored one! Based on information from two other sources, I have now amended the diagram and the text as well.

    It also appears that there may have been an earlier game which had the same theme of Rxb2. You may take a look at Tim Krabbe’s page for additional information.


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