CHESS STRATEGY

Basics   Pieces   Tactics   Openings   Middle Game   End Game   Glossary
As positions simplify through the exchange of pieces and pawns, it becomes easier to look farther ahead. Nevertheless, endgame play can be very subtle and tricky.

In an endgame, an advantage of two or more pawns is usually enough to win routinely. With other things being equal, being a pawn ahead is usually enough to win when players have pawns on both sides of the board, but not enough when all pawns are on one side of the board.

In endings with only kings and pawns, a crucial factor is often who has the opposition. This is similar to the concept of "the move" in Checkers. If two kings lie along the same line--a rank, a file, or a diagonal--with an odd number of squares intervening, the player who just moved has the opposition. In the simplest ending, king and pawn vs. king, having the opposition can mean the difference between winning and drawing.

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In this position, if it's White's turn, the game is a draw: 1.e6-e7+, Kd8-e8 4.Kd6-e6 stalemate. But if it's Black's turn in the diagram, White wins: 1. ... Kd8-e8 2.e6-e7, Ke8-f7 3.Kd6-d7 followed by 4.e7-e8Q.

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Here are some basic endgame principles to remember:
• When you are one or two pawns ahead, exchange pieces but not pawns.
• When you are one or two pawns behind, exchange pawns but not pieces, and try to eliminate all pawns from one side of the board.
• Advance passed pawns as rapidly as possible.
• Place rooks behind passed pawns--whether the pawns are yours or your opponent's.
• Endings in which players have bishops of opposite colors (one moving on light squares, the other on dark squares) are the hardest to win if you're one or two pawns ahead, and the easiest to draw if you're one or two pawns behind.
• Endings with only kings and pawns are the easiest to win when you're a pawn ahead.

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