The Wrong Corner

Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road or a secret gate.
J. R. R. Tolkien

Anyone can start learning chess. There is an ocean of information available online, as well as countless books. The main challenge each one of us encounters is how to learn. I remember being afraid to reach a 2 bishops versus king, or bishop and knight versus king endgames. What if I would not be able to checkmate within 50 moves? These days I am yet to reach either of those endgames. I know in the second one the idea is to checkmate by forcing the lone king to go into one of the 2 corners of the same colour with the bishop. Conclusion: these are not necessarily the endgames one should spend a lot of time memorizing them.

A far more practical endgame to know is the rook pawn and bishop of wrong colour one. The lone king goes unimpeded into the h8-corner and cannot be forced out of it. This is a simple motif I have used in the past to save myself. Also, over the years a few of my students have played it with mixed results. That convinced me of the importance to keep it in mind together with other important endgame concepts such as the Lucena and the Philidor positions.

You might be tempted to think that all such endgames end in a draw. However, this is not always true. Chess is such a beautiful/ resourceful game. Here I am not talking about the endgames where the lone king is out of the square. Take the example below: the lone king is in the square and could reach in time the h8-square. Both sides know what black needs to do. In this case the solution is decided by which side moves first. Maybe this could come as a surprise to you. The idea is simple: block the lone king’s access to the corner:

Once you have been introduced to the winning idea, all you need to do is practice. No matter how simple it is, the more you put it to practice, the better you learn it. Troitsky was a very meticulous person and created several studies where such ideas could be tested. The one below adds an interesting wrinkle: not only Black has a pawn, but also the White king is farther away from the action. This means the bishop and pawn must reach the blockade position shown above until their king can join them:

My hope is that I caught your interest to study this endgame and make sure you will play it correctly. If the above feels a bit too easy, here is one a more challenging puzzle for you to solve. The added interesting aspect is coming from a game played by GM Adams, one more example of how useful it can be. If you manage to solve it without an engine, it will be time well spent getting better at chess!

Eugen Demian

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Valer Eugen Demian

Author: Valer Eugen Demian

The player – my first serious chess tournament was back in 1974, a little bit late for today’s standards. Over the years I have had the opportunity to play all forms of chess from OTB to postal, email and server chess. The journey as a player brought me a lot of experience and a few titles along the way: FIDE CM (2012), ICCF IM (2001) and one ICCF SIM norm (2004). The instructor – my career as a chess teacher and coach started in 1994 and continues strong. I have been awarded the FIDE Instructor title (2007) for my work and have been blessed with great students reaching the highest levels (CYCC, NAYCCC, Pan-Am, WYCC). I am very proud of them! See my website for more information. I have developed my own chess curriculum on 6 levels based on my overall chess knowledge and hands-on experience. A glimpse of it can be seen in my first chess app:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chessessentials/id593013634?mt=8
I can help you learn chess the proper way if this is what you seek! View all posts by Valer Eugen Demian

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