Monday, 18 March 2013

Endgame Study: King and two pawns vs King

Before starting, let me clarify you that this topic is for beginner level players only. Today, we will discuss the positions where you have 2 pawns while your opponent's has no pawn. This is fairly simple but sometimes it’s not. We can distinguish those positions into 3 categories.

1. When you have 2 connected pawns
2. When you have 2 scattered pawns
3. When you have double pawns

Case of two connected pawns
This is very simple position (See the diagram).

You can see that if Black king captures d4 pawn, c5 pawn will march. You need to bring your king to advance those pawns. I think there is no further discussion required in this category. However if you have any questions, you can ask through comments.

Case of two scattered pawns
(A) One file apart:
Two pawns apart by a file can defend each other if they are on same rank as if king approaches to any of pawn, other can march. See the diagram.

Alert: Do not advance your pawn until opponent's king approach towards any of your pawns.

In the above position, playing 1.h5 is blunder as now black can draw by playing 1....Kh6, 2.f5...Kh5, 3.f6...Kg6. In order to win you should bring your king nearer to the pawns.

(B) Two files apart:

  • Pawns are on 6th and 7th rank with either side to move.

Stronger side can win easily without help of king. If Ke6 then h7 wins, if Kf8 the e7+ wins followd by h7-h8.

  • Pawns are on 5th rank (Stronger side to move)

Stronger side do not require king's help to win. White can win by h6, if... Kf7 then e6+ wins followed by h7-h8.

  • Pawns are on 5th rank (weaker side to move)

In order to win, you need your king. With black to move, black can draw easily with Kxe5 in the previous diagram but here you can win with the help of your king. If ... Kxe5 then Kg5 wins.

  • Pawns are on 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank

Win is not possible without king's aid. Position is as same as previous diagram. Pawns with 3 or more file apart ; stronger side can win easily without support of his/her majesty.

Case of twins (Double pawns)
Simple rule to win: Do not advance your both pawns together as you can lose a tempo with that extra pawn. See the diagram.

Position on your left side in the diagram is winning one because with either side to move because of b2 pawn while position on your right side is draw with either side to move. If Black to move ....Kf8!, Ke6-Ke8, f7+ - Kf8, f6 and stalemate  Fair enough to explain you the difference between two positions.

Remember: any numbers of pawns on rook file is always draw, if your king can not reach to key square.

Position on left side is winning for white while right side it is draw.