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Here I may work through a chapter of the Lamprecht & Mueller end game book I’m using, talk about the difference between different end game books for different players, or show how we’re monitoring & structuring our End Game study and why.

The End Game!

Posted by pablito15 on April 5, 2010

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Won’t help with your End Game……

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Might help with your end game...

Lamprecht & Mueller?

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Might help with your End Game…..

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Definitely WILL help with

your end game!

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Why study the end game at 1600 level? At the club I play at, being 1600 often means not getting to an end game. I think this question is a valid one, and it uncovers an unfortunate truth about club chess: most players, to survive their opening 20 games at club level, and maintain their morale/enthusiasm for chess, will have to study openings. If I didn’t, i’m certain that all of my first 15 games would have been effectively over in under 20 moves. Also, it must be said that thanks to “opening study” I took a great deal of joy and motivation from playing out challenging games with 2000+ players. In any case, thanks to this study, I ended up winning 2 of my first 14 club games. My lack of understanding of simple middle/ending/tactical concepts ensured that I had few reference points/help to remember much of the theory I studied back then, and the loudest voice in me tells me that this time in my chess development, studying openings before I was ready to, actually hurt my chess as I stopped calculating. I found myself leaving entire pieces unprotected in rapid games and yes, I actually got worse.

I know now that all of the opening study I did at the beginning of my reintegration into tournament chess in 2007, did almost nothing for my game. I no longer play the same openings, I have never encountered any of the tactical tricks I learnt in the Scotch (in Blitz, tournament, allegro, blindfold, internet, simultaneous, or chess-boxing matches). If I could go back in time I would happily be crushed in my first 15 games of club chess, but have studied something that would now form part of my chess makeup, rather than the wasted hours of opening study that, yes, won me TWO of my first 14 club games, but now is just dead skin I’ve shed and I’m starting from the beginning all over again. So my advice, if you have thick enough skin for it, is to lose your first 15 club games, but don’t waste time studying openings before you can understand them. It will take you about 1/50th of the time to learn opening theory after you understand pawn structure, than it would have before that, and what’s more you’ll be more effective at understanding/taking in what you’re studying.

So in that spirit I present to you chapter IV of Karsten Mueller & Frank Lamprecht’s Secrets of Pawn Endings: the best end game book I’ve studied. I am of the opinion that it is much clearer than Silman’s complete end game course, and that the concepts are drilled in with visual/spatial aids rather than the lingual process that Silman uses. In general, my confidence, and ability to retain material reguardless of not playing hundreds of end games is incomparable after looking through Lamprecht & Mueller. If you are a visual rather than a lingual learner, I can guarantee this is the book for you.

I’m doing one chapter of end game study per week, this week you can find my study online as follows. These are the 17 “learning positions” given before the 14 tests/exercises at the end of the chapter. I believe there is something in here for every player (I don’t believe anyone is so strong that they can look at 4.04 and tell me all the corresponding squares without thinking), it is the first “non-beginner” chapter in my opinion, where the key concept of corresponding squares is introduced.

You can find a very quick glance at elementary “blocked pawn” rules as an appendix at the very bottom if you need it, I won’t include it in the main body though.

4.01: + / -

– 4.01: White is not concerned with Queening the the g-pawn, he has on his mind 6 (or 7) crucial squares. Two banks of 3 squares (and b7 is also important) They are: c5, d5 & e5. If he can stand on any of these squares he has won the black b5 pawn. And the other bank of 3 squares he is focussed on is a6, b6 & c6. Once he captures the b5 pawn, he must be able to advance to one of his b4 pawn’s critical squares, the only way black can stop him doing so is if he can move onto the b7 square the move after white takes the b5 pawn, when he holds the opposition and the game is drawn.

White wins simply by immidiately abandonning the g-pawn with 1. Kf2, Kh3, 2. Ke3, Kxg3, 3. Kd4, Kf4, 4. Kc5, Ke5, 5. Kxb5, Kd6 when he steps on to either the winning a6 or b6 square.

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4.02: = / -

– A position to remember. L & M always start with these key positions that you have to keep in mind as the fundamentals in more difficult situations.

White to play draws: 1. Kf3!? Kd4, 2. Kf4, Kxc4, 3. e5, Kb3!, 4. e6, c4, 5. e7, c3, 6. e8=Q, c2. Draw. Black draws using the stalemating trick unique to c & f-pawns. Once again, if you don’t know it, it’s tough to go on learning more advanced concepts that depend on it.

Black to play loses, & we learn that e3 & e6 are what we call corresponding squares: meaning, when the white King is on e3 the black King must be on “it’s corresponding square” e6 so as to be able to restrict all the critical squares available from white.

1. Ke6, Kf4, 2. Kf6, e5+, 3. Ke6, Ke4! (repeating the won position for white) 4. Ke7, Kd5! 1-0

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4.03: = / +

– White to move miraculously holds this position. This is a case because the white g2 pawn controls one of the three critical squares or the e5 pawn.

1. Kc3! Ke4, 2. Kd2! Kd4 (taking the opposition, but it doesn’t matter) 3. Ke2! Kc3 (e4? here just makes it easy for white, with one move he plays Kd2 and gains the opposition and a simple draw) 4. Ke1! (Ke3 is also possible but this move is more instructive) e4, 5. Ke2, Kc2, 6. Ke2, e4!? 7. Ke1!! (Question #2: Why does Ke3 lose?) Kd3, 8. Kd1, Ke3, 9. Ke1, And black cannot advance. We saw here the importance of keeping one’s mind focussed on the critical squares, even when the opportunity of winning a past pawn is offered, these squares are the most important thing:)

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4.04: + / - an introduction to "corresponding squares"

– This chapter introduces the concept of corresponding squares, the first topic I consider “non-beginner” that i’m looking at.

– Corresponding squares are, as the name suggests, squares that are linked to each other: the defending side must occupy a/the corresponding square relative to the square that it’s white counterpart is on, at the right time, to “be drawing” as they say.

-To work out what the corresponding squares are, we first need to understand what the key & critical squares are. Critical squares are: c5, d5, e5- the three adjacent squares to the blocked opponent’s pawn. As before, b7 is a crucial square protecting the critical a6/b6/c6 squares. But more importantly, to make any of that matter, we must recognise that e2, e3 & obviously d4 are key squares in this position. Why? (1) From e2 black cannot maintain the opposition from e4, (2) From e3, even if the black King stands in opposition, white can push d4+, when the only way black has of protecting the b5 pawn’s critical squares is by playing Kd5, whereupon white plays Kd3!! Giving us the fundamental winning position with black to move from 4.02. So! Now that we understand why e2/e3/d4 are critical squares, we need to examine the corresponding squares black needs to be on when the white king is on: d2 (threatening Ke3 & Ke2), c3 (threatening Kd4/Kd2), with the king on b3, b2 and so on. This notion is absolutely critical and the first advanced end game technique you’ll need to learn. It’s not immediately evident how it works which is why you might need to repeat, or write a blog about it, like me!

The white King on d2: On d2, the white King threatens to get to the key squares e2 & e3. We know black loses if white steps on these squares for the reasons mentioned above, so black must stand on a square that prevents the white King from doing so. Can you see the only square from which black can stop Ke2/Ke3 from? Exactly… Kf3- which makes Kd2 & Kf3 corresponding squares. For the rest of the game, it will be white’s goal to manouver, triangulate and do whatever he can to get black off these drawing corresponding squares.

The white King on c3: On c3 the white King is threatening Kd4 & Kd2. If the black King is on d5 or e5 he draws by counter attacking the b4 pawn if white tries to go from c3 to e2, but in terms of pure restriction of white from getting to his key squares, there’s only one square he can do it from (the answer’s in white after the brackets!): e3!

The white King on c2: On c2 the white King is threatening c3 & d2, the only square black can defend both these threats from is: f4! Did you get the corresponding square? If not suicide immediately. What about the black King on f2? This works… on one level… After 1. Kd2 black can repeat the initial position with Kf3, and he can reply to Kc3 with the crucial Ke3. But what’s the problem? He’s stepped out of the square of the passed pawn: d4! looks pretty tough to match!?

The white King on b3: On b3, the white King threatens Kc3 & Kc2. Now it starts to get difficult. On f4 black can effectively meet 1. Kc3 with Ke3! But, he cannot meet Kc2 in any way that will protect e2 from f4: 1. Kc2! Ke3? Kc3! 1-0, or: 1. Kc2, Kf3, 2. Kd2! and with the move Black is in Zugzwang and has lost control of e2: 1-0. The only square black can stop the King on b3 from is: f3!!! Where he meets Kc3 with Ke3, and Kc2 with Kf4. Well done if you got that one, it’s getting difficult.

The white King on b2: Threatening c3 & c2. As the King’s get further away it becomes more and more difficult to calculate the corresponding squares, on b2 I don’t believe there is any corresponding defensive square for black. From f4, black responds well to Kc3 but not to Kc2, with: 1. Kc2, Ke3?, 2. Kd3! 1-0, or, 1. Kc2, Kf3, 2. Kd2! 1-0. Even from d4 black fails to 1. Kc2, Ke3, 2. Kc3!

White wins with: 1. Kc2, Kf4!, 2. Kb3?! Kf3!, 3. Kb2! Kf4, 4. Kc2! Ke5, and now another crucial move: 5. Kd1!! (5. Kd2??, Kd4 1/2:12)  (5. Kc3?? Kd5, 6. d4, Ke4! 1/2:1/2) Kd4, 6. Kd2!, Ke5!?, 7. Ke3, Kd5, 8. d4!, Kc4, 9. Ke4!, Kxb4, 10. d5!, Kc5, 11. Ke5!, b4, 12. d6!, b3, 13. d7!, b2, 14. d8=Q!, b8=Q. And white wins with: Qc8+!

The purpose of all this was to introduce the concept of corresponding squares, which L & M go deeper into with Chapter 12. This concept is explained clearly enough for a dimwitted chessman like myself to understand, therefore, these people are genius’.

4.05: + / -

White to play: cannot win on the King side, as black just maintains the opposition. He has to, as if so often the case, use the innaccessible b5 square to win the key squares from black.

The critical squares are: e4/f4/g4 (for the d4 pawn), b6/c6/d6 (for the c-pawn) and a crucial square is d6: If we decide to give up the c-pawn for a ‘won’ King/Pawn VS King ending, can black step onto it the moment after we take the d4 pawn?

1. Ke2, Ke5, 2. Kd2 (Kf3?, Kf5 = ) Kd6, 3. Kc2, Kc5, 4. Kb3, Kc5, 5. Ka4, Kc6, 6. Kb4, Kb6, 7. c5+, Kc6, 8. Kc4, 1-0. We don’t need to give up that c-pawn after all, due to winning the opposition on the QS using c5.

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4.06: + / - Two things to keep in mind for black.

– Black has to not only keep the white King from the marked critical squares, but he also has to remember to stay in the square of the passed pawn while doing it! In this position it is too hard for black as “the square” of the passed pawn is too tight with it so close to Queening. White wins easily with: 1. Kf3, because: black cannot defend both the critical squares with Kf5 and stay within the square of the pawn.

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4.07: = / =

– With the position moved 1 square back, it becomes infinitely more interesting. Black has enough scope to defend the critical squares and stay within reach of the passed b-pawn. The variation: 1. Kd2, Kd6!, 2. Ke3, Ke5! 3. Kf3, Kf5! 4. Kg3!? Ke5! (Kg4?? b5! 1-0) 5. Kg4, Ke4! 6. Kg5 Ke5! 7. Kg6, Ke6! and white cannot win the opposition.

– What if white tries to go around the QS? 1. Kb2, Kb6, 2. Ka3, Kb5! And now white could take the diagonal opposition, but the chess board doesn’t have enough files for him this time!

– With black to move, white has “the opposition”, so black has to use the unoccupiable d3 square to win it back. 1. Kd5!, Kd2, 2.Kd6! Ke3! 3. Ke5!

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4.08: = / -

– They move on to discuss backward pawns. The problem for black here is that he must not only keep to the corresponding squares to keep white off the critical squares, but as the pawn is close to Queening, he must keep the c5 pawn sac in mind too, and be in range of the b-pawn. White wins easily with black to move with: 1. Ke6, c5! However white to move, he can’t progress as black can just keep the distant opposition/corresponding squares.

If the pawns were 1 square forward, white could win by drawing the black king away from the pawns and pushing the c-pawn.

One can see an analagous position on the h & g-files in this chapter, between Steinitz & Lasker, a drawn world championship match.

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4.09: Timman V Yusupov 1994: = / -

– White to move draws by maintaining the distant opposition. Often there are too many obstacles in the way to maintain a direct opposition.

Timman drew by: 1. Kg2, Kg7, 2. Kg1, Kf7, 3. Kf1, Ke6, 4. Ke2, Kd5, 5. Kd2 (cheeky, using the protected d4 square) Kd6, 6. Kd1, Kc6, 7. Kc2, Kc5, 8. Kc1 1/2: 1/2

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4.10: + / -

– Ah! Now you’re giving me some information I can use L & M! The positions are starting to feel like end games I may actually see in the future!

– Here, it is crucial to remember one thing to avoid a very red face. Kc4?? is met by: d5+ 1/2:1/2

– In this case white wins regardless of who is to move, in cases like these he can usually use the spare tempo offered by his ability to move the pawn to gain the opposition & win the critical squares of the d6 pawn. For example:

1. Kc3! Kd7, 2. Kb4, Kc7, 3. Ka5!, Kc6, 4. Ka6 (white can also win with d5+) , Kc7, 5. Kb5, Kb7, 6. d5! (wasting a tempo) Kc7, 7. Ka6. 1-0

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4.11: + / -

– My instant thought when I saw this was “ah!! g4! Giving me a position I know from the last diagram.”

g4?? of course throws away the win immediately due to the position of the King. 1. g4?? f4+!, 2. gxf4, Kf6! 3. Kf3, Kxf5 1/2:1/2

– White wins simply by wrestling the opposition from black using the spare tempi. He can be fancy and play 1. Kd4, allowing Kf5, but why not simply play Kf3 and find a familiar position we know how to win with: 1. Kf3, Kf5, 2. g4+, or, 1. Kf3, f5, 2. Ke3 and so on, eventually using the tempo g2-g3 to win the opposition.

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I’ve told a lie! After 1. Kf3 black can draw I believe- will fix that shortly!

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4.12: + / =

– Passed pawn on an open file. White wins easily enough by making his way to d4. Black to play on the other hand, makes use of the proximity of white’s two pawns: 1. Kf3!, Ke1, 2. e3!!, fxe3, Kxe3. 1/2:1/2

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4.13: = / =

– Lamprecht & Mueller finish the chapter with a study of split pawns.

– Black holds the position by thinking ahead and making a couple of accurate moves:

1. Kc3, Kd4, 2. Kd3, Kc6!! 3. Ke4, Kd6!, 4. d5, exd5+, 5. Kf5, d4!, 6. Ke4, Ke6, 7. Kxd4, Kf5. 1/2:1/2

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4.14: = / -

– Funnily enough, black has to worry about e8, and not letting the white King penetrate and push him away from the defense of his own pawn. Black to move:

1. Kd5?, Ke7, 2. Kxd4, Kxe6. 1-0

1. Kd7? Kf7!, 2. Kd6, Ke8, 3. Kc4, Kd7!. 1-0

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4.15: = / =

– Doubled pawns are tougher to win with, but there are two main winning ideas that should be kept in mind. The first, is that white usually has a spare tempo: in the position on the left, if white were to play 1. f4, he would ensure that he could play f2-f3 any time he liked to waste a move and win the opposition.

– The critical squares are different with doubled pawns: the doubled pawns take away critical squares from the black king. the critical squares of white’s f3 pawn would normally be e3, d3, c3, however given that the f-pawn control one of these critical squares I think we can say that there are no critical squares for the f3 pawn.

1. f4 (white gives himself the option to waste a tempo, but also introduces 3 new critical squares for the f4 pawn). White must now guard the 3 critical squares of the f-pawn. If it were white to move again after f4, he would lose the f-pawn by force (Ke3, Kc4!, Kf3, Kd4!, Kg3, Ke4! f3+, Ke3 – and the f-pawn falls). In any case- on with the game:

1. f4, Kc5! and now, as we have seen, allowing black to capture the c4 square loses the f4 pawn reguardless of the f2-f3 tempo , so white is simply forced to play Kc3, Kd5, and again, white is forced to play Kd3. So f4 doesn’t work, what about relying on the other idea- keeping the pawns close and taking the critical squares from the black king.

1. Ke3, (Now, a move like Ke6?? trying to take back the opposition after 2. Kd4, Kd6, obviously loses to f4, wasting a move and winning control of critical squares. Black has only one possibility:) Ke5. Playing Kd3 achieves nothing, as white can just repeat the position with Kd5! So, 2. f4+, Kd5, 3. Kd3, Kc5. And the king’s just keep going sideways- white can make no progress. 1/2:1/2

4.16: + / -

– We saw in the previous version, white can’t win because his King cannot even get into touching distance of the critical squares, he can forget about standing on them!

– Looking at this position, we can logically say that white’s best chances of winning lie on the Queenside of the f-pawn, where he has 3 critical squares to aim at. He should therefore, keep his mind on the 3 squares adjacent to the black pawn, as it is very easy for black to blunder and lose control of them.

-If black doesn’t blunder, white blocks the pawns, making sure to leave himself some spare tempi with the other pawn, and he threatens too many winning methods for black to defend against. He has to be slightly tricky to win, for example:

1. Kf4!, Kf6, 2. Kg4! Kg6, 3. f4! (Now, if black plays f5+? white must think: “how many moves will it take me to get to d4?” With an extra tempo, we can effectively increase the critical squares of the black f5 pawn to: e5/d5/c5 and d4/c4. [eg. f5+? Kf3, Kf6, Ke3, Ke6, Kd4, Kd6, f3! 1-0.]) f6, 4.f5+ (white can now get to d5 in & moves, meaning black must be able to defend that by getting to d6 within 3) Kf7, 5. Kf4 (threatening Ke4-d5) Ke7, (defending the threat.) Which brings us to the tricky move and the critical position. White uses the threat of a different winning technique, in conjunction with the critical squares on the QS. 6. Kf3!! Now, if we look at the position white can still get to d4 in 2 moves, but he can also infiltrate on h5 within two moves. Black can defend against the threat of Ke4 by playing Kd7, or, he can defend against the threat on h5, by Kf7, but choosing one defense keeps the other one lacking. Kd7, 7. Kg4!, Ke7, 8. Kh5, Kf7, 9. Kh6 Kf8, 10. Kg6, Ke7, 11. f3/Kg7 1-0.

4.17: + / =

My hat goes off to anyone who can explain this one…

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Appendix: Basic blocked pawn knowledge.

-A quick look at prerequisite knowledge for chapter 4, the basic blocked pawns concept is explained in 2.02.

– This is what I like about this book, the information is visual. I am a visual learner: when I read a book, I remember the part of the page my favourite phrases were on, if i’m looking for it I flip over the pages looking at the same spot on every page until I find it- I don’t remember where it is in the story or what chapter it’s in. When Silman explains opposition to me saying “the 3 squares in front of the pawn when the pawn is on the 5th rank are the winning squares…” it means absolutely nothing to me. Lamprecht & Mueller explain every concept visually using “key & critical squares” for varying positions, which are marked for you.

– In this position, if the white King can manouver into any of these 3 adjacent squares to the blocked passed pawn, he has an easy win.

White to play: 1. Ka5! Kb7, 2. Kb5! Kc7, 3. Kc5! Kd7, 4. Kd5! Ke7, Kc6! and white has won the critical d6 square.

Black draws simply by maintaining the opposition: 1. Ka6! and so on… If this concept is beyond you then so will chapter IV be- you should go over chapter 1 and fundamental King VS King & pawn endings.

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