Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Endgames for 5 year olds: the answers

In my last post, I wrote about some basic endgames that I showed my 5 year old student, and some of the ones he struggled with. Funnily enough, he did get the idea soon after, as he was able to work out other positions with similar themes. Anyway, here are the answers.

White to play and win
 White should have no problem promoting as his king is front of his pawn and his opponent doesn't have opposition. But things are never easy. The first thought is to push the pawn:

1.b6? Ka8 [1..Kb8? 2.b7 +-] 2.b7 [2.Kc7 is stalemate already] 2..Kb8 and white has to play 3.Kb6 to protect his pawn, which will be stalemate.

So instead: 1.Kc7! Ka8 2.Kb6! [2.b6? is stalemate] 2..Kb8 3.Ka6 Ka8 4.b6 Kb8 5.b7 +-

White to play and win

Very tricky 1.Kb6 is forced, but now after 1..Kc8 what can white do?

As both 2.Kc6 and 2.e6 lead to immediate stalemate, white has to let go his pawn. But how to do it? 2.Kc5! allowing black to take opposition with 2..Kxc7, but a tempo gain with the pawn gets it back! 3.e6! Black's king must now go to the back rank, and white must follow. 3..Kc8 4.Kc6! opposition 4..Kd8 5.Kd6 Ke8 6.e7 and the pawn will promote, not unlike in the last puzzle!

White to play and draw
First, it is always harder to aim to draw rather than to play to win, especially if you're 5 years old. So this is a tricky one. If you'd being paying attention to the first puzzle then the key to this is similar but in reverse. White wants to get his king in front of the pawn and with opposition. White's job is to prevent that.

White's king is outside the square of the pawn, so it must move to the b-file, but which one? 1.Kb1 allows black's king to advance to b5 with no resistance. 1.Kb3 allows black to play 1..Kb5 with immediate opposition, so 1.Kb2! is the only move. 1..Kb6 [Distant opposition. 1..Kb5 2.Kb3! with opposition and in the square of the pawn] 2.Kc2! [Both kings are forced to move across their current ranks or else they allow the other to take the opposition. If you look where black's pawn sits, you will realise why black will fail to win] 2..Kc6 3.Kd2! Kd6 4.Ke2! Ke6 5.Kf2! Kf6 6.Kg2! and black's king cannot go to g6, so 6..Kg5 7.Kg3! with opposition and a theoretical draw

If these endgames are known to you, then you'll not need a board, and if you can follow them in your head, then cool. If you are struggling with them, then I recommend you play them out on a board, as they will teach you invaluable lessons in basic pawn endgames.

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