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  An Amazing K+P Endgame 

  (Reti K+P endgame composition, number one.) 

  A prize-winning composition by one of the most creative chess players who ever lived.  


Below is an ending that I saw many years ago. Then - at chess club - a friend was showing me a chess book that he had received as a Christmas present.  (The name of the book is "Chess Endgame Training," by B. Rosen.  ISBN# 1-904600-01-8  Buy this book from USCF.)  In that book was this same problem. We went over it together, and that piqued my curiosity. 

I had always wanted to come back and analyze many such problems and famous or well-known positions/endgames. (Especially since the computers have improved so dramatically over the last decade or so  ...  the Nalimov Endgame Tablebases have virtually eliminated all guesswork of any position with just a few pieces left on the board.)  

So allow me to share a treasure with you. If this Pawn ending does not bring a smile to your face ... 


Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I use when annotating a chess game.  

Click  HERE  to replay ... just the main line ... of my solution. 


eg_reti-comp1_pos01.bmp.gif, 39 KB

  7K/8/k1P5/7p/8/8/8/8 w  

 

A very famous problem, created by  Reti  back in the early 1920's. (It also won prizes in several composition contests.) It has been reprinted countless times in both books and magazines. 

[See the "Encyclopedia of Pawn Endings," page # 37.]  

 

  [ Composition by -  GM R. Reti  / Kagan's Neueste / Schachnachrichten, 1921. ]   

 

The stipulation (here) is ... "White to move and draw." 

At first glance, this looks to be completely impossible ... as Black's King is very close to White's Pawn, while his counterpart, (the WK) appears to be " a hundred miles" behind the Black passer.  

 *** *** *** ***     *** *** *** ***     *** *** *** ***     *** *** *** ***     *** *** *** ***     *** *** *** ***  

(The moves here have been checked against Fritz 8.0, Fritz 9.0 ... and the latest of the Nalimov Tablebases. The variations that are given here actually represents a complete analysis, and may differ from the standard solution ... that is given in many chess books.) 

1.Kg7!!,  
The White King does TWO things at once. He gets closer to the Black Pawn AND inches closer to his own Pawn as well! (One of the secrets to the multi-directional powers of the King ... a path on a diagonal ... or even a zig-zag approach, is often just as effective as moving in a straight line!!) 

     [ Hopeless for White would be: 
       </=  1.c7 Kb72.Kg7 h4;  "-/+"   
       and the second player has an easy time of it.   

      **************************************************************   

        Going in ... "the most direct route" (after the Black RP) does not work, 
        for example: </= 1.Kh7? Kb6!;   
        Now White is lost in all lines.   

        2.Kg6 h43.Kf5 h34.Ke4,  (hmmm)   
        The "end-around run," but it comes too late.  

               ( Or 4.Ke6 Kxc6; "-/+" winning. )    

        4...h25.Kd5 h1Q+ 6.Ke5 Qxc6; "-/+"  {Diagram?} 
        when Black has an elementary win from here.   

        Note that delaying the correct procedure (for White) by even one tempo is fatal! ]   

 

1...Kb6!;   
This seems to forever halt the WP (on the c6-square) from any ambitions to a possible promotion. {This move, 1...Kb6; is also the most natural human reaction, at least from my experience.}  

Its been 30+ years ago, but I remember studying this problem with a friend. I once showed this position to an Expert in a tournament I was playing in. I asked him, "What would you play in this position?" He studied the board for a few minutes and said, "Resign," ... rather laconically, as he sauntered away from the chess board.   

     [ Or Black could try: 
       1...h4!?2.Kf6!! h3!;  This seems to make sense.  

   ***************************************   

             ( Another way to play would be:  
               2...Kb63.Ke5! h3;  
               Otherwise, White plays his King to f4, and - miraculously - catches 
               the fleet-footed Black RP. 

                    ( I.e., 3...Kxc6!?; 4.Kf4, "="  with a draw. )     

               4.Kd6, "="  {Diagram?}   
               drawing, as this problem will clearly demonstrate. )    

   ***************************************   

        3.Ke7! h2;   
        It does not matter what move order Black chooses.   

             ( Or 3...Kb6!?; 4.Kd7 h2; 5.c7, "="  (also with a draw),    
                is really nothing more than a simple transposition. )     

        4.c7 Kb75.Kd7,  "="   {Diagram?}   
        with a draw - similar to the main line of the solution. ]   

 

White continues to move on the long diagonal here, as this brings the White King  closer to both pawns  ... ... ... 
 at the same time.   

 

2.Kf6!! h4; (Forced?)   
Black must act fast, the WK was getting a little too close. 

     [ 2...Kxc6; 3.Kg5 Kd5; 4.Kxh5, "=" ]  

 

It would be easy to give up here ...  {assuming that White was lost}, but the first player simply continues with the correct strategy (that was outlined earlier).   
3.Ke5! h3(Run away, run away!)   
Once more, this appears forced.  

 

eg_reti-comp1_pos02.bmp.gif, 38 KB

  8/8/1kP5/4K3/8/7p/8/8 w  

 

It might be easy to glance at this position and assume nothing has changed ... but actually, White has made real progress ...   
as compared to the initial position.   

 

  **********************************************************************************************  

      [ After  3...Kxc64.Kf4,  "="   {See the analysis diagram ... given just below.}  

eg_reti-cmp01_ad01.gif, 07 KB

         The White King is inside the "square of the Pawn," and thus catches and captures it.  
          (Yielding a draw.) ]   

  **********************************************************************************************  

 

(Returning to the main line of the analysis of this excellent little composition.)  

4.Kd6!(Unity of forces.)   
Now White has "caught" his own Pawn, although the significance of this fact is not readily apparent. 

 

       [ </= 4.Kf4? h2; 5.Ke5 Kxc6; "-/+" ]   

 

4...h25.c7 Kb7;   
If Black allows both Pawns to promote here, that will lead to a standard 'book' draw.  

 

6.Kd7 h1Q7.c8Q+,  "="  (A 'book' draw, the Q+P ending is easily drawn.) 
 ... with a fairly obvious draw.  

 

eg_reti-comp1_pos03.bmp.gif, 33 KB

  2Q5/1k1K4/8/8/8/8/8/7q b  

 

An incredible composition ... by one of the greatest and most original players who ever lived.   

In closing, the technique is actually pretty simple ... that is, once you have learned it. The White King simply continues to move on the diagonal, each step brings him closer to both pawns. Eventually, the WK will either catch the Black Rook Pawn, or be united with his own Pawn. (This results in the desired outcome, which is - of course - a draw.) 

 

  *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** ***  

 

  BIBLIOGRAPHY / Reference:  

See the book, "Pawn Endings," by GM Yuri Averbakh and also I. Maizelis. (Chapter Three, page # 37, diagram/problem # 124.) First released in the USSR. It was translated by B.T. Batsford in 1974, and published in the U.S. by Chess Digest, Inc. (hard-back)   

 

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2006. All rights reserved. 

 

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  Copyright (c) LM A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2013. All rights reserved.  

  This page was created on February 01st, 2006.  This page was last edited on: April 19, 2013 01:36 AM .  


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