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Endgame Fundamentals: King on the 6th

By Donny Gray

Take a good look at the following diagram.  It is very important in learning about pawn endings.

 

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Diagram #1

 

This position comes up a lot in pawn endings and in your analysis of endings. In this diagram it is good to know that white wins this position no matter whose move it might be.

For example:

White to move, white wins with:

1.Kd6 Kd8
2.c6    Kc8
3.c7    Kb7
4.Kd7  and the pawn queens next move

Black to move, white still wins with:

1.    …    Kd8
2.  Kb7

And the pawn is protected all the way in to become a queen

or

1.   …    Kb8
2. Kd7

And again the pawn is protected all the way in.

There is one other thing you need to know about this position. This only works if the king is on the 6th rank.  Move this position back any at all and it is a dead draw.  Let’s take a look why.

 

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Diagram #2

 

We have now moved the position back two ranks. Now it does make a difference whose move it is. If it is black’s turn, white still wins. One possible way this could go would be:

1.   …     Kd6
2. Kb5  Kc7
3. Kc5  Kc8
4. Kc6  Kd8
5.  c4    Kc8
6. c5!!

We now have reached diagram #1!!!  As we saw earlier, white wins this position no matter whose turn it is.

But now for the bad news: If we go back to diagram #2 and it is white’s turn, the best white can do is draw. Let’s see why.

1.Kd4 Kd6
2.Kc4 Kc6
3.Kb4 Kb6
4.Kc4 Kc6

White has been trying to get away from black opposing him to no avail. We now have a draw, due to the three move repetition rule.

The big question here is why in the world doesn’t white try pushing the pawn? The reason is king beside or behind the pawn is a draw. Let’s take a look at what happens when white tries to push the pawn.

1.Kd4 Kd6
2.c4

The king is beside the pawn. Black draws easily now. Watch.

2. … Kc6
3.c5 Kc7
4.Kd5 Kd7
5.c6+ Kc7
6.Kc5 Kc8
7.Kd6 Kd8
8.c7+ Kc8
9.Kc6  Stalemate
½ – ½

Now let’s take a look at another position where the king of the 6th comes up.

 

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Diagram #3

 

White can win this by forcing our way to the king on the 6th position that we know is a win.

1.Kd5 Kc8
2.c7!!

White cannot win unless he gets rid of the c pawn. It is impossible to win without giving up the c pawn.

Let’s take a look and see why.

1.Kd5 Kc8
2.Kd6 Kd8
3.c7+

Sooner or later you will have to push this pawn. Whether you do it now or later the result will be the same

3.  …  Kc8
4. Kc6  Stalemate
½ – ½

So back to the way to win.

1.Kd5 Kc8
2.c7!! Kd7

Black tries to avoid taking it.

3.c8-Q+ Kc8
4.Kc6 Kb8
5.Kb6

And we have our 1st diagramed position that we know is a win!

Another try for black ends up just the same.

1.Kd5 Kc8
2.c7!! Kc7
3.Ke6 Kc8
4.Kd6 Kb7
5.Kd7 Kb8
6.Kc6 Ka7
7.Kc7 Ka8
8.Kb6 Kb8

And once again we arrive at diagram #1!!  White wins.

 

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