These endgame puzzles have been previously posted on this site and here make up a collection available to everyone to enjoy.
They come from actual games, as well as from famous chess studies and compositions, filled with nasty tactical blows to dismantle the opponent (dry and too technical in nature endgame position, though indispensable in the OTB play, are not paid too much attention here).
Why endings? Because it is in an endgame that full potential of pieces, individually and in cooperation, is lucidly expressed.
Smyslov, a genius of the endgame, wrote, “my father instilled in me a love for so-called ‘simple’ positions, with only a few pieces. I was able to gain a deep feeling for what each piece is capable of, to sense their peculiarities, their strength and impotence in various different situations on the board, the limits of their capabilities, what they ‘like’ and what they ‘don’t like’ and how they behave… Such a ‘mutual understanding’ with the pieces enables a player to see what often remains concealed to purely logical analysis. It is then that the innate ability of a player, which I call a sense of harmony, manifests itself.” Thank you Maestro! Now, let’s go to study…
A knowledge of the endgame is the magic key to the secrets of chess mastery…
Delving into the secrets of the endgame reveals an amazing world of chess harmony.
The solutions to the problems below can be found at the end of this page.
200) White is two pawns up, but the black rooks on the second rank look very powerful.
Gligoric just played …Rab2? as he thought it’s the b-pawn he should have controlled. Here he was up for a big surprise.
1.b6! Rxb6 [1…cxb6 2.Rc1 Rbc2 3.Rxc2 Rxc2 4.Rg4! cuts off the king and the black rook cannot handle two passed pawns.] 2.Rhg4 Rb8 [2…h5 loses to 3.Rg7+ Kh8 4.R7g5] 3.Rg7+ Kh8 4.R7g6 1-0 [Black cannot do anything against 4…Kh7 5.f6 Rf8 6.Rg7+ Kh8 7.Rxc7.]
201) 1. Ng3 [1.Rxh4 h1Q+ 2.Rxh1 Rb1+ 3.Kxd2 Rxh1] 1…hxg3 2.h8Q h1Q+! 3.Qxh1 g2 4.Qh2!! [4.Qxg2 Rb1+ 5.Kc2 Rb2+ 6.Kc3 d1N+; 4.Ra4+ Kb3 5.Qh3+ Kxa4; 4.Qg1 Rb1+ 5.Kc2 Rc1+ 6.Kxd2 Rxg1] 4…Rb1+ [4…g1Q+ 5.Qxg1 Rb1+ 6.Kc2] 5. Kxd2 g1Q 6.Kc3+! Ka3 [6…Qxh2 7.Ra4#] 7.Qa2+! Kxa2 8.Ra4#
202) 1.Bxd5 and if 1…Qh3 2.Bxf7+ Kh8 3.Qd8+ and 4.Qg8 mate.
There was also study-like win 1.Rxf7 Kxf7 [1…Qxf7 2.Bxd5] 2.e6+ Kxe6 [2…Qxe6 3.Bxd5] 3.Bh3 winning the queen.
203) What is White to play after 29…Nxd4?
1…Nxd4? 2.Qh5+ Kg8 3.Qe5! 1-0
204) The black pawn promotes, but the King is restricted, unable to avoid a perpetual.
1.Rc8+ Kd2 [must not let the rook to the first rank] 2.Rd8+ Ke2 3.Re8+ Kf2 4.Rf8+ Kg2 [no
more checks, but th eking took an unfortunate position] 5.Rb8! h1Q 6.Rb1! [White wants to
drive off the Queen from the corner, otherwise the king escapes via the fifth rank] 6…Qh5
7.Rb2+ and draws by a perpetual.
205) 1…Rg2+ [1…Ng4+ 2.Rxb6 axb6 3.Kf1 and White seems to be okay] 2.Kh1 Nf5! and there is no defense against two threats 3…Rg1 or 3…Nxg3 mate.
206) In the game Black played 1…b3?? [1…Kxa2?? is also bad 2.Qa4+ Kb1 3.Qb3+ Kc1 4.Rd1+! Kxd1 5.Qd3! Qxd3 stalemate; 1…Rc3! 2.Rd1 Qe3 3.Qd6 Kxa2 and queen-side pawns decide; 1…Kb2! is also ppossible 2.Qg7+ Kxa2 3.Qf7+ Qc4] and here White king resigned 0-1?? White could have drawn by 2.Rxb3+ Kxa2 3.Ra3+ Kb2 [3…Kxa3 4.Qd3+] 4.Qb5+ Kxa3 [4…Qb4 5.Rxa5] 5.Qd3+ forcing stalemate.
207) A most interesting study, one of the best with this material. It is amazing how much subtlety is contained in such a simple setting (Paul Keres)
1.Re2(e3)!! [This move is only suprising but even incomprehensible without a thorough analysis of the position. 1.Re1 seems more logical, as after 1…e5 2.Ke7 Kf4 3.Kd6 e3 4.Kd5 Kf3 5.Kd4 e2 6.Kd3 White wins easily. However, Black has a more cunning defence in 2…Ke5! when both 3.Kf7 Kf5! and 3.Kd7 Kd5! lead to no progress for White. He must therefore move his rook, and as it dare not leave the e-file because of 3…e3, so 3.Re2 is forced; but now Black can play 3…Kd4 (or 3…Kf4) 4.Ke6 e3 5.Kf5 Kd3! gaining the vital tempo to draw. In other words, 2…Ke4! would place White in zugzwang, which explains h etext move.] 1…e4 2.Rk1! [only now goes th erook to the first rank] 2…Ke5 3.Ke7! [Now it is Black who is in zugzwang and he must give way to the white king. 3.Kg6? would spoil everything, as 3…Kf4! 4.Kh5 e3 5.Kh4 Kf3 draws.] 3…Kd4 4.Kf6 e3 5.Kf5 Kd3 6.Kf4 e2 7.Kf3 and wins. [Commentary from Paul Keres’ Practical Chess Endings]
208) This may not align with what you think about Tigran Petrosian, but anyway, here it goes,
“Petrosian is first and foremost a stupendous tactician,” –Boris Spassky.
“He has an incredible tactical view, and a wonderful sense of the danger… No matter how much you think deep, he will “smell” any kind of danger 20 moves before!” –Fischer about Petrosian
Typically, Tigran used tactics to gain positional advantages, here it was about finishing off – the moment he made his move, Black’s king resigned.
1.Rxd4! and now whatever Black moves follows 2.Rxe5+ Kxg4 and 3.h3 mate.
209) This the same theme as in #184.
1.Rxh3 Rb3+ 2.Kf4 Rxh3 draw.
210) “Normal” methods will not make a queen of the a6-pawn, as the following variations
demonstrate: 1 Ra3? Rh5 2 a7 Rh8 =, or 1 Kxb2? Rxa5 3 Ra3 Rb5+ 3 Kc3 Rb8 =. So
White uses an interference theme, as illustrated in several variations.
1 Rf3+! Ke7 [on 1…Kg7 2 Rf5!! gf 3 a7 decides; or 2…Rg1+ 3 Kxb2 Rh1 4 Rf8!+–] 2 e5!! Rxe5 [2…Rh5 3
Rf8!+–] 3 Re3! [another standard technique, this time – deflection!] 3…Rxe3 4 a7+–.
211) Here is Dr. Lasker’s brother, Berthold, in action:
1.Bd6! [there are two tactical weapons here, as in #210: a. interference 1…Nxd6 2.Qxe6, and b. deflection 1…Rxd6 2.Qb8+ and Rf8 mate.]
212) 1…Nf3! [2.Kg2 Ne1+; 2.Rd6+ Kg5 with 3…Nd4 threat; 2.b4 b6 with Kh6-g5-f4, or 2.b4 Kg5 3.bxc5 Kf4 4.Rd7 Ke3 and …Nf3-d4]
213) 1.Bg5 gives nothing as White can safely sac his rook if Black advances the rook pawn.
1.h7+ Kg7 2.h8Q+ Kxh8 3.Kf7! Rf1+ [after 3…Rxh4 4.g7+; 3…Rg1 4.Bf6] 4.Bf6+ Rxf6+ 5.Kxf6 Kg8 6.g7 and wins.]
214) 1.g5!+ fxg5 2.Qxh7! Kxh7 1-0 [3.Nxg5 and 4.Nxh3 with two extra pawns]
216) Frédéric Lazard (1883–1948) was a French chess master, problemist and journalist. He published Mes problèmes et études d’échecs in 1928.
Black threatens 1…Re8 as well as 1…Kg6(h6). White’s king is far away to make any contribution (what’s more, it is even situated on the e-file where the e-pawn may go pinned), so it all rests on the knight which is to work marvels to help one of the pawns promote.
The study is about line closing, or interference of fascinating efficiency: 1.Nf4+! Kh6 2.Ne6! [the threat is closing of the back rank 3.Nd8] 2…Re8! 3.g8Q! [with the same idea of line closing, this time from the other side, with a pawn sac] 3…Rxg8 4.Nf8! Rg5 5.Ng6!! winning [5.e8Q? Re5+! with a stalemate; 5.Ng6 stops both 5…Re5 and 5…Rg8]
217) 1.Qf8+ Qg8 2.e6! 1-0 [2…Qxf8 3.exd7 and 4.Rc8]
218) 1… d4+ 2. Qxd4 (2. Kxd4 Nc6+) 2… Nf5+ 0-1
219) 1.h6! [decisively drives the black pawn off from controlling the f6 square] 1…gxh6 2.Kc3 a1Q+ [one should know how to win if Black promoted a knight 2…a1N] 3.Kb3 and wins.
220) 1.Qc4+! [the theme here is deflection, or drive-on before using a skewer] 1…Qxc4 2.g8Q+
222) Tigran Borisovich Gorgiev (1910-1976) was a Soviet chess study composer of Armenian origin. International Judge (1956) and International Master for Chess Composition (1969). He held an MD/PhD degree in Epidemiology. He got into chess composition in 1927, the very next year he won two first prizes. He specialized in the genre of artistic problems with bright duels having composed more than 400 pieces, 80 of them having been awarded.
In this study by Gorgiev, we deal with so called focal point. It’s a special instance of interference when two lines of two enemy pieces intersect. The point at which lines of force of the two pieces cross is the focal point. Usually, the focal point is employed by placing a piece en prise which effectively shuts off two enemy pieces.
1.d7 g2+! [The only chance to hold up the pawn. If 1…Rd3 2.Bxd3 Rd5 fails to 3.Rf4+ Kg5 4.Rf5+!] 2.Kxg2! Re2+ [2…Rg5+? Kf2; 2…Rg3+ 3.Kf2 Rg8 4.Rh1+ and Rg1+] 3.Kf3! Rd2 [Black parried the original threat, but having made defensive moves he gave White opportunity to create new threats. Such transition of threats is very common in chess.] 4.Kf4! [threatening mate; Black has only one defense to parry 5.Rh1] 4….Rc3 [Now we can see that both black rookes are separated with heavy responsibilities: one must control the d-file to stop queening, while the other is to be ready to play …Rh3; so neither of them can stand in the other’s way. This hints we should find a move to close the lines of both rooks…] 5.Bd3!! and wins [5…Rcxd3 6.d8Q+ Rxd8 7.Rh1; 5…Rdxd3 6.Rh1+ Rh3 7.d8Q+ – a great study showing clearly the focal point concept.]
223) Adolf Julius Zinkl (1871-1944) was an Austrian chess master.He analyzed this position in 1894.
1.Rh8 Kb2 2.Rh2+ Kb1 [this method of defense was suggested by Maizelis in 1950; Zinkl gave 2…Kb3 3.Re2 f3 4.Rf2 and wins] 3.Rg2 f3 4.Rf2 Kc1 5.Rh2 [This subtle rook move and the text was found by V. Litoshenko, the reader of Shakhmaty in USSR magazine — Maizelis’ analysis went 5.Rc4 c2 6.Kb3 Kd1 7.Rxc2 Ke1 with a draw] 5…Kb1 6.Rh4 b3 7.Kxc3 f2 8.Rh1+ Ka2 9.Rf1 b2 10.Kc2 winning.
224) 1.Kd3! [1.e5 Kxb6 2.Ke4 Kc6 3.Kxf4 Kd5 4.h5 gxh5 5.Kf5 h4 6.e6 Kd6 (6…h3? 7.e7 h2 8.e8Q h1Q 9.Qa8+ +/-) 7.Kf6 h3 8.e7 h2 9.e8Q h1Q] 1…Qxb6 2.Ke2+/- 1-0
225) Everything looks good for White, but it followed
1…Rxb7!! 2.Rxb7 Rf8+ 3.Ke4 Re8+ 4.Kd3 Re3+ 5.Kd2 Rd3+ 6.Ke2 Re3+ 7.Kd1 Re1+ 8.Kd2 Rd1+ 1/2-1/2
226) The knight should go because of the mating threat. Yet, White survives. How?
1.Nf5! Kxf5 [1…Rxf5 2.g7 Rf1 3.g8N+! =] 2.e7 Re4 3.Kh7! Kf6 4.g7! and now both 4…Rxe7 5.Kh8! Rxg7, and 4…Rh4+ 5.Kg8 Kxe7 give a stalemate.
227) Position after 38.Rxe6. Black played 39.Qg1 and the game ended in a draw. Actually, Black could have won quick!
1…f5! [decides, as Black takes control of g4, after which White has no defense against 2…Qg3+! (unpinning) 3.Qxg3 Rh5 mate.]
228) Defense wanted. “White, one of the world’s top players at the time, resigned here, not seeing any reply to the mate threat on f1 as his queen must protect the d5-bishop. Yet there was a defense. Can you see it?” Neiman/Afek: Invisible Chess Moves
1.Kh1! Qf1+ 2.Bg1
Why was 1.Kh1 invisible?
– As there is a mating threat it is hard to visualize the king move.
– Moving the bishop backwards is also not easy to foresee.
– when defending, such coldblooded moves are difficult to conceive of.
229) Velimir Kalandadze of Georgia is a study endgame composer and International Judge for chess studies. He is renowned as a specialist of Rook endings.
1.b7 Rh1+ 2.Kg7 Bf6+ 3.Kxf6 Rh8 4.Kg7 Rd8 5.Bc7 Kb5 [5…Re8 6.Kf7 Rh8 7.Bd6+] 6.Bxd8 Ka6 7.b8R and wins.
230) White played 1.Rxg7? There followed 1…Rc7+ 2.Rc7 and stalemate!
It was necessary to play the intermediate: 1.Rd7+!
231) 45.e6!! There followed 45…Bxe6 46.Ra7+ Bd7 47.Kh2! Rh5 48.b5! Rxc5 49.Bxh3 f5
50.bxc6 Rxc6 51.Bxf5 Rd6 52.Kg3 Ke8 53.Rxd7 Rxd7 54.Bxd7+ Kxd7 55.Kg4 Ke6 56.Kg5 Kf7 57.Kf5 1-0
232) The first impression is this is the typical bishop pawn on the 7th securing a draw. Yet, an ordinary approach wouldn’t do, 1.f7? Qg5+ 2.Kh7 Kf5 3.Bg7 Qg6+ 4.Kg8 Qe6 wins for Black. So, what may be the solution?
1.Bd6+! Kf5! 2.f7 Qd2+ 3.Kh7! Qxd6 4.f8Q+! Qxf8 stalemate!
A truth worth remembering, even the simplest positions often hide a surprise!
233) 36…Rxe2!–+ 37.Rh8+ Kxh8 38.c8Q+ Kh7 39.Rxd3 Rxf2+ 40.Ke1 Rxg2 41.Kf1 Rgc2 0–1
234) Timman resigned in this position after 49.g5. Few months later, an amateur from Switzerland discovered it was a draw!
1…Kd6 2.h4 Kxc6 3.f5 Kd6 [not 3…gxf5 4.h5 Kd6 5.g6+/-] 4.f6 Kd7 5.Kf3 Kd6 6.Ke4 Kd7 7.Kd5 Ke8 8.Kc6 Kd8 and White cannot make any progress. Draw.
235) You may think a draw is imminent as Black is about to promote and take the bishop. Yet, White is winning here. Can you see how?
Leopold Adamovich Mitrofanov (Leningrad, 1932 – 1992) was a Russian chess composer, International Judge (1971) and International Master of Chess Composition (1980). He was a chemical engineer by profession.
1.Bc8! The pawn battery! 1…a1Q+ 2.Kg2 [no good is 2.Kh2 Qh8+ 3.Kg2 Qd8] 2…Qg7 [or 2…Qa2+ 3.Kh3] 3.Kf1! Qa1+ 4.Ne1+/-
236) 1.Rh8+! Kxh8 2.gxf7 bxa2+ 3.Kxa2 1-0 White makes a new queen due to threatened corridor mate on h1.
237) Black just played 44…Qd6. Any normal pin-breaking moves (Kh1, Kh3, Qf4) allow 45…Qxh6 mating. Still, Bishop+Rook battery is menacing…
1.Qg3!! Qxh6+ [not 1…Rxg3 2.Rxe8 mate.] 2. Qh3 Qd6 [otherwise the mate threat on e8 costs Black at least the bishop; but now the pin can be broken without allowing mate] 3.Kh1! there followed 3…Kg8 4.Rxe8 Kf7 5.Rh8 1-0
238) This study was taken from Viktor Pozharsky’s Chess tutor in studies, Rostov-on-Don, 2005
1.g7 Bd5 2.a7 Be6+ 3.Bf5! [White gains a tempo stopping the black king from reaching b7] 3…f2 4.Kg2 Bd5+ 5.Be4! [if 5.Kf1, then Bc5!] 5…Bc4 6.Bd3! Bd5+ 7.Kf1 Kb7 8.Be4! +/-
239) Black played 1…e2?? here. Can you see what comes next?
1…e2?? 2.Qg1+ Kd2 3.Qc1+ Kd3 4.Qc3 mate.
Vladimir Pavlovich Simagin (1919-1968) was a much-admired Russian player and coach. He assisted Vasya Smyslov in the 1957 World Championship match (that Smyslov won against Botvinnik 12.5-9.5). Simagin had a bold and imaginative playing style, and he was an expert tactician. Yet, blunders happen to all of us – no one is immune…
240) Inadequate is 1…Qg7 2.Rd7! So what may be a better shot for Black?
1…Qc2! 2.Qxh5 Qxe2 3.g4 [3.g3 Qxd1+ 4.Kg2 Qe2+ 5.Kh3 Qf1+ 6.Kh4 Qg2! 7.h3 (else 7…Qxh2#) 7…Qxg3] 3…Qf2+ 0-1 The edifice crumbles on 4.Kh1 Qxf3+ 5.Kg1 Rxg4+
241) Zugzwang most often occurs in the pawn endgames as pawns can only go forward and their maneuvering abilities are reduced. Every chess player should know this old position from Carrera. The result depends on the first move by White. Can you see it?
1.Kg1! [The only move. Loses 1.Kg2? g3! and now White is zugzwanged!] 1…h3 2.Kh2! f3 3.Kg3 h2 4.Kxh2 f2 5.Kg2 g3 6.Kf1 Black is in zugzwang and loses the pawns.
Pietro Carrera, (1573 – 1647) chess player, historian, priest and Italian author, born in Sicily, in Militello in Val di Catania (Province of Catania). In 1617 he wrote and published Il Gioco degli Scacchi (The Game of Chess), subdivided into eight books where “learning the rules, the odds, the endgames, the blindfold chess and a discussion about the true origins of chess in itself”.
Carrera is also remembered as the inventor of chess variant (Carrera’s chess) on an 8×10 chessboard,
in which there were added two new pieces called the “Champion” (a combination of the moves of rook and night) and “Centaurus” (a combination of bishop and knight); it was a predecessor of Capablanca chess.
He is not remembered as a great live player but as a master of theory and a great source of information regarding contemporary players of his time.
242) 1.Rd1+! Rd5 2.Ra1+- Rh5 3.c7+ Kd7 4.Ra8 h1Q 5.c8Q+ Kd6 6.Qc7+ Kd5 7.Qc5+ Ke4 8.Ra4+ Kf3 9.Qc3+ 1–0
243) 1…Bc4! 0-1
244) White’s king is in the mating net with the appearance of the bishop on the c1-h6 diagonal. Can White survive?
1.d7 Bh6! [mate in one is threatened] 2.Bf8! Bf4 3.Bd6! Bxd6 [otherwise the white bishop is on the loose perpetually attacking its black colleauge] 4.d8R! [subtle promotion; if 4.d8Q? then Black wins easily after 4…Bf4 5.Q any move K+ 6.Qxf4 Kxf4] 4…Bf4 [4…Bxh2 5.Rd3+ Kxd3 stalemate] 5.Rd2 Bg5! [if the king moves, stalemate, and that’s the idea behind the underpromotion 4.d8R! The rook is now pinned, while the queen would have taken the bishop with White losing.] 6.Rd5 Kf4 7.Rd2 Bh6 8.Rd6 Kg5 9.Rd2 and draw [as soon as the king steps aside from the line of fire of the bishop, it is a stalemate, and the bishop, unprotected by the king, will be perpetually attacked; 9…Bg7 leads, after 10.Rd3, to a better play for White, as the b3-pawn can’t be protected.]
245) This position was a tough nut to crack even for some Grandmasters (see the post)
1.Ke7 Rc7+ 2.Kf6! [a mate threatens] 2…Rc6+ 3.Ke5! Rc8 [one more check loses instantly 3…Rc5+ 4.Kd6 Rc8 5.Re1 Kg7 6.Re8] 4.Rg6! Kh7 5.Rc6 Ra8 6.Kf6 [the white king is now safe from sideways checks; there is nothing to do against 7.Re6 and 8.Re8]
246) The black rook is in a precarious situation. How can White take advantage of it?
1.Bf6! gxf6 2.f5! [The h3-rook will be locked up!] 2…Re8 3.Rf4 Kf8 4.Rd7 Re7 5.Rd8+ Re8 6.Rxe8+ Kxe8 7.Kg2 1–0
Curiously, both Fritz and Houdini give White only about +1.15 while in fact Black is completely lost! (Chess Today CT-4777)
247) 1.f7 Ke7 2.Ne6! Kxf7 3.Ng5+ Kf6 4.Nxf3 c2 5.Ng1! [the threat is 6.Ne2] 5…c1Q stalemate.
248) Black is threatening 1…h2 followed by 2…Qe4+ and then 3…h1Q. White (to move) therefore played 1.Qf3. What happened now?
1…Qxf3 and White resigned. Why? Because of 2.Kxf3 Ne3! and White can’t stop the rook pawn. Cutting off the king is a common endgame idea.
249) 1.Kf1! 1-0 [1…Rb8 2.Qxa7 c3 3.Rf7; after trading queens 1…Qc8, the rook endgame is also hopeless for Black]