Lesson 4 by Igor Epshteyn

UMBC, room ECS 023, 3-3-99

Notes by David Joyner. (No claim to completeness.)

Theme: Pawn on the 7th (2nd) rank against queen.

As we have emphasized before, you must know endgame thinking. (Karpov, for example, often uses the strategy of slow transposition into a better endgame.) We shall study in this lesson some basic situations arising in pawn endgames after a pawn promotes. These positions shall illustrate how important one tempo can be in king+pawn end games. This material will be needed to evaluate certain positions which will arise in later lessons.

Position 4.1:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position1White to play and win

The win here is easy. For example, 1. Qe3+ Kd1 2. Kf4 Kc2 3. Qe2 Kc1 4. Qc4+ Kb2 5. Qd3 Kc1 6. Qc3+ Kd1 7. Ke3 etc. The same technique works if black has instead a knight pawn or king pawn. The rook and bishop pawn cases offer more drawing chances for black due to stalemate opportunities.

We examine the rook and bishop pawn cases next.

Position 4.2:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position2White to play. Draw. The idea is for black to avoid reaching position 6.4 below, which is an easy win for white.

1. Qg3+ Kh1! 2. Qf3+ Kg1 3. Qe3 Kh1 draw.

Position 4.3:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position3.pngBlack to move. White wins. Check that mate is unavoidable.

Position 4.4:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position4Mate is unavoidable.

(White king could also be on f4 or g4.)1. Kh3! (Not Kg3? since … f1=N+ draws) f1=Q+ 2. Kg3 and mate next move.

The win in the bishop pawn case depends on whether the king is on the “long side” (e.g., the e-file where there is no possibility of stalemate) or the “short side”. Suppose that the pawn stays on f2 but the black king is on e1 or e2, and the white queen is on (say) g6. The “winning region” for the white king is the set of squares bounded by b1 to b4, b4 to d4, e5 to h5. If the white king is outside this region then black draws.

Position 4.5:

In Forsyth notation:




White to play and win.
1. Qb1+ Kg2 2. Qc2+ Kg1 3. Qd1+ Kg2 4. Qe2+ Kg1 5. Kg4 h1=Q 6. Kg3 and mate next move.

Position 4.6:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position6White to play and win.

(If the white king were further away, on f6 for example, instead then this would be a draw, see position 4.7 below.)

1. Kb6 Kb2 2. Kc5+ and win as in position 4.5.

Position 4.7:

epshteyn-lesson4_position7White to move. Draw.
Position 4.8:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position8White to move and win.

1. Qg7+ Kh1 2. Qh6 Kg2 3. Qg5+ Kh1 4. Qh4 Kg2 5. Qg4+ Kh1 6. Kb4 a3 7. Qf3+ Kg1 8. Qg3+ Kh1 9. Qf2 a2 10. Qf1 mate.

Position 4.a:

In Forsyth notation:




Black to play and draw.
1. … Kh1! draws.

Position 4.b:

In Forsyth notation:




White to play and win.
Easy exercise.

Position 4.c:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position11Black to play and draw. 1. … Kh1! draws.

Position 4.d: The following position arose in a tournament game.

In Forsyth notation:




Black to play and draw.
1 … g6 2. f5 gxf5 3. g6 f4 4. g7 f3 5. g8=Q f2 draw. Not 1 … h4? 2. f5 h3 3. f6 Kg1 (3 … gxf6 4. g6 f5 5. g7 f4 6. g8=Q h2! draw) 4. fxg6 h2 5. g8=Q h1=Q 6. Qe6 and white wins.

Position 4.e:

In Forsyth notation:


epshteyn-lesson4_position13White to play and win. 1. Qg4+ Kf1 2. Kb4 h5 3. Qg6 (Qxh5 leads to a draw, as discussed in position 4.4) Ke2 4. Qe4+ Kf1 5. Qh1+ Ke2 6. Qg2 (Qh5+? draws) Ke1 7. Kc3 h4 8. Qe4+ Kf1 9. Kd2 Kg1 10. Qg4+ and white wins.


Solve the following problems.

  1. Position 4.9: Study by Grigoriev.In Forsyth notation:


    epshteyn-lesson4_homework1White to play. Draw.

    solution below

  2. Position 4.10: Study by Berger.In Forsyth notation:




    White to play and win.

    solution below

  3. Position 4.11: Study by Grigoriev.In Forsyth notation:




    White to play. Draw.


Homework solutions:

  1. 1. Qg4+ Kh2 2. Qf3 Kg1 3. Qg3+ Kf1 4. Kb5 Ke2 5. Kc4 h5 6. Qd3+ Ke1 7. Qe3+ Kf1 8. Kd3 Kg2 9. Qg5+ (Qe2 Kg1 draws immediately) Kf3!
  2. 1. Qg4+ Kh2 2. Qh4+
  3. Berger’s “win”: 1. Qg4+ Kh2 2. Qf3 Kg1 3. Qg3 Kf1 4. Kb5 h5 5. Kc4 h4 Grigoriev’s draw: 1. Qg4+ Kf1! 2. Kb5 h5 3. Qg6 Ke2 4. Qe4+ Kf1 5. Kc4 Kg1 (5 … h4? 6. Kd3 Kg1 7. Qg4 and white wins) 6. Qe3 Kg2 7. Qg5 Kh2 8. Qh4 Kg2 draw.