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LCB, Issue #019 --, Gallop Through the Endgame with the Four Horsemen
December 01, 2012

Galloping with the Four Horsemen

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #019 -- Gallop Through the Endgame with the Four Horsemen

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Last month we took a look at advanced King and Pawn endgames. Extremely complex and difficult to calculate. Much potential for unforeseen complications and many 'spanners in the works'. To demonstrate just how dicey pawn endgames are we examined four of the most famous pawn endgames in chess history. They contained many valuable lessons.

This month we are going to indulge ourselves a little bit. We are going to look at some Knight endgames. The noble steed can be a tricky customer. He likes closed positions with lots of pawn chains to hop, skip and jump through.

These same pawn chains can neutralize the long range powers of some of the other pieces. In such endgames they can come out the wrong side of a bruising encounter with a wild horse or two. We have three games involving some of the very best masters. They showcase the abilities of the Four Horsemen in fine style.

Galloping Through the Endgame with the Four Horsemen

Galloping with the Four Horsemen

Knights are often overpowered by Bishops in the open expanses of a near empty board. However it can be different in those endgames with six or seven pawns remaining on each side. The horse can prosper against the man of the cloth amid those pawn chains strewn across the board.

Sometimes a Knight must face off against an enemy Knight. Such endgames often feature a well timed sacrifice if it leads to a pawn breaking through the enemy lines to promote. Every time a pawn captures he leaves a gap behind him on the square he just vacated.

We have three highly entertaining Knight endgames, each containing important lessons on conducting the final stage. You can apply some of the techniques to pure pawn endgames which are very similar to Knight endgames in many ways.

Jose Raul Capablanca - Samuel Herman Reshevsky (1936)

Our first endgame sees the Knight pitted up against a Bishop. The Knight uses the layout of the pawns to dominate the Bishop. Black's own pawns restrict his Bishop's mobility. The Knight's flexible move allows him to maneuver around the pawns easily.

Capablanca was heard himself to say "The weaker the player the more terrible the Knight is to him, but as a player increases in strength the value of the Bishop becomes more evident to him, and of course there is, or should be, a corresponding decrease in his estimation of the value of the Knight as compared to the bishop."

Even so he showed in this game that he could handle a Knight expertly. He never allowed Reshevsky to get any activity for his Bishop in an attacking sense and in the end forced the Bishop into defensive duty as a blockader to White's central pawns. After much sterling work the Knight was advanced in the final thrust to remove the defender and Black resigned when he saw the cavalry coming. Capablanca - Reshevsky.

Alexander Zakharov - Alexander Petrushin (1973)

Our second game comes from the USSR Championship of 1973. A 2 Knights vs 1 Knight endgame emerges. It's still finely balanced because the lone Knight has advanced passed pawns.

The two White Knights get together with their King and attempt to deliver a checkmate before Black can promote. The Black King is on his own in the corner as his three pursuers close in. But he has hope to cling to. The a-pawn is racing unimpeded towards promotion.

White has only a handful of moves to trap the enemy King. It's not the easiest mate in the world. But there is a winning move that can bring him to victory in all lines. Can he find it? Zakharov-Petrushin.

Garry Kasparov - Raul Monier (1992)

After 43 moves Garry Kasparov found himself locked in an intriguing 2 Knights vs 2 Knights endgame. Both sides had two pawn chains, 4 vs 4 and 2 vs 2. The Knights began to spar in an attempt to break the deadlock.

Black (Monier) made an error when trading off one pair of Knights unfavorably. He found himself with the less active Knight and the less active King. White went to work and his King immediately raced up to the base of Black's Kingside pawn chain.

His Knight robbed a pawn off the front of the Black pawn chain. Black couldn't take the Knight or White would have promoted. White's lunge did however allow the Black Knight to snap up a pawn in return. In the end though White's positional superiority told and he forcibly brought about the conditions to create a passed pawn. Black resigned before he could carry out the threat. Kasparov-Monier.

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