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LCB, Issue #021 --, Advancing Passed Pawns in Queen Endgames
February 01, 2013

Passed Pawns in Queen Endgames

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #021 -- Advancing Passed Pawns in Queen Endgames

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Last month we talked about the tremendous influence a King can have in the latter stages of a game. A lot of talk around the King involves ideas to protect him from attack. However in the endgame he becomes a powerful attacking unit and is usually an absolutely necessary part of a winning endgame.

We took a look at some grandmaster games demonstrating the importance of a King on the front foot compared to a King found hanging back. The King who wins the race to the coal face of the battle is often the ultimately successful one.

This month we switch over to Queen endgames, looking at one particular Queen endgame. We see what effect a runaway passed pawn will have on this endgame. We go through the ideas and concepts of how to play from both sides. We will take in a Grandmaster game for further instruction.

Passed Pawns in Queen Endgames

The Strongest Supporter

Passed pawns can be effectively blockaded in many endgames where both sides have the same pieces. Rooks can cancel each other out, as can Knights and Bishops. Other units like the Kings would have to enter the fight to sway things.

It would now be a case of which King is better placed. This would decide whether the pawn is ultimately promoted or captured. There is one piece however that can break the blockade of it's opposite number without any assistance.

That piece is the Queen. Brilliant attacking piece, dreadful defender. The Queen can maintain contact at all times with her advanced passer, while moving into an attacking position on the blockading Queen. The trade is practically forced and promotion follows.

Advanced Passers and Perpetual Check

It can be a serious situation when you find yourself down by several pawns in the endgame. All things being equal this can often mean curtains. However an advanced passed pawn can swing things in your favor.

The enemy pawns are a long way from promotion. Yours is let's say on the seventh rank. All of a sudden you've got your opponent on the ropes. He can't very well sac his Queen to stop your pawn. He can't allow promotion either.

His only resource is to unleash perpetual checks on your King if this is possible. If it's not possible he's toast. If it is, he's settling for a draw in spite of a material lead of several pawns. Other themes that may appear in this endgames might be the Dual Purpose Queen or doubled pawns.

Rubinstein vs Capablanca

Much of this discussion is illustrated in the following masters game from St Petersburg, 1914. Jose Raul Capablanca (Black) is facing a tough fight for survival by his 27th move.

White has the dominant Queen. Black's c-pawn is weak and he's already down a pawn. His opponent, Akiba Rubinstein is regarded as an endgame magician, capable of converting the most microscopic advantages into a full point.

Capablanca himself, however, has amassed a formidable reputation. He can see hidden resources in a given position that others simply can't. He has some great strategy up his sleeve. He utilizes many of the ideas we have talked about to hold Rubinstein to a draw.

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See you next month.


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