Triangulation Leads to Strangulation

It is often necessary in the endgame to use triangulation forcing your opponent into zugzwang in order to win. Sometimes you will reach a position where it's your move but it would have been better if it were your opponent's move. He would have been forced into a game losing concession as there are no good moves available.

Such positions almost always occur in the endgame when there are far less moves available to either player than earlier in the game. This is when you need a way to return to the exact same position only now it's your opponents move.

Happily there is just such a resource for this very purpose. It's called triangulation and it works on a very simple logic.

Dropping a Tempo

Chess Strategy: Triangulation in the chess endgame

If it is Black to move he loses. If it is White to move he needs a plan to gain opposition and force the win

The position you are looking at is a great example of how this technique can be used to win a game. This position arose in a game played in Tblisi, Georgia in 1965. Mikhail Tal is White and Boris Spassky has the Black pieces.

Tal has just played the rook to h4 protecting both pawns while the king continues to blockade Black's pawn on f3. White is just about holding the fort and Black does not seem to have a way of breaking his resistance.

Spassky sees that there is little he can do from this position when he has the move but if it were Tal's move he would collapse as he only has losing moves. Spassky triangulates the king using three moves to return to d3 while Tal only has one safe square, e4 for the rook and is forced to return in two. They have returned to the same position only now it is White to move and he resigns. Play through the examples in the Triangulation tutorial game viewer.

Moving On

So the preliminaries have been completed, the foundations have been laid. Three important concepts that endgame strategy center around have been discussed. This leaves you in good stead to study the endgame where these concepts will form the cornerstone of your plans.

The endgame is self contained, a law onto itself. There are no book moves that apply. There are general principles that you must apply to each ending you play.

The chess endgame is the most demanding of the three stages as it requires both intuition and the ability to calculate variations often several moves ahead.

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