A basic endgame is a position with few or no pawns left. The usual material points count (pawn=1, knight=3, bishop=3, rook=5 and queen=9) does not apply to basic endgames, but rather you simply have to learn which endgames are won and which are drawn. In this lesson we look at three important basic endgames.
King and Rook versus King
White to play: who wins?
White is actually in serious danger of losing, because two connected passed pawns on the sixth rank can beat a rook. Luckily the two pawns are not yet on the sixth rank, but the only way for White to win is to concentrate solely on eliminating them.
1. Rf1 Kxa7
2. Kg7 Kb6
3. Kf6 Kc5
4. Ke5 e3
5. Rxf3 e2
6. Re3 Kc4
7. Rxe2 Kc5
Phew! But now White has to checkmate Black with only a rook. The checkmating plan is:
1.use the rook to keep the Black king near one side of the board;
2.force the kings to line up;
3.check with the rook to push the Black king even closer to the side; and
4.keep going until the Black king is checkmated.
The next move demonstrates how to line up the kings and check with the rook.
Push the Black king towards the side
The rest of the game follows the checkmating plan.
9. Kd5 Kb3
10. Rc8 Kb4
11. Rc7 Kb3
12. Kd4 Kb2
13. Kd3 Kb1
14. Kd2 Kb2
15. Rb7+ Ka3
16. Kc3 Ka4
17. Rb1 Ka5
18. Kc4 Ka6
19. Kc5 Ka7
20. Kc6 Ka8
21. Kc7 Ka7
Checkmate with king and rook versus king
Actually, from any starting position, a king and a rook can checkmate a king within at most 16 moves. In practice it may take you longer, but remember that your opponent can claim a draw if you can't get checkmate within 50 moves.
King and Two Knights versus King
Black to play: who wins?
Black must play with some care to stop the pawn from promoting.
This is the only move: 1... Rh8 allows the pawn to promote after 2. Nb8.
The White king defends the pawn. What should Black do next?
Again the only move: White was threatening to promote with 3. Na6.
Amazing fact: a king and two knights cannot checkmate a king (unless the defending king cooperates).
The final position is a dead draw.
King, Bishop and Knight versus King
Black to play: who wins?
Again, Black must play precisely to stop the pawn from promoting.
2. Kb7 Rxa7+
But now White should win, because king, bishop and knight can force checkmate against a king. How it is done is beyond the scope of this lesson, but checkmate can only be forced in a corner square that the bishop can attack. That means there are only two squares on the board where checkmate can be forced. If you ever have to defend this, then you can allow your king to be driven to the wrong corner, safe in the knowledge that checkmate is impossible there.