Pawn End Games

With chess books, those on the end game are greatly outnumbered by opening books. For publications that do cover end games, positions involving pawns are most common. Let’s now consider the simplest pawn end games.

White to move and win

Diagram-1: White to move

The above position shows how important it is for the side with the pawn to put the king ahead of the pawn before it advances toward the queening square. Two moves win for White in Diagram-1: Ke6 and Kf6. Moving the pawn, however, would allow the defender to get a draw by the following moves:

  1. e6?       Ke7
  2. Ke5      Ke8!
  3. Kd6     Kd8
  4. e7+      Ke8
  5. Ke6     draw by stalemate

From Diagram-1, let’s look at the correct way to win, using the move Ke6, which takes control with king-opposition. The black king must move to the right or left. We’ll look at the position after Black then moves Kd8.

chess end game with one pawn

Diagram-2: White to move

Black has just moved Kd8 in Diagram-2. When White now moves to Kf7, that king will be protecting the queening square e8. The black king will then be unable prevent the pawn from advancing forward until it reaches the eight rank, becoming a queen.

The above method is not the only way for a pawn to be successfully advanced to the queening square, but it’s probably the first method that should be learned by a beginner. Chess books and online resources are abundant for this most simple type of end game.

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Chess End Games

Not many end-game chess books give much attention to the queen versus rook. Consider three books (none of which had beginners in mind, apparently)

A Queen Versus Rook Corner Defense

We are indebted to Derek Grimmell for his studies and his videos that explain how this works.

The Best Chess Book for Beginners

Some publications are for the advanced tournament player, but more of them are for average or intermediate competitors. Others books are for post-beginners or for novices.

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