Categories

 Loading... Please wait...

An Unusual Ending

One of the first things learned by every chess player are the basic checkmates. King and Queen versus King, Rook and King against King - and on down to the King plus Bishop pair versus King, and the difficult King with Bishop and Knight mating the King. Many good players, however, are completely unacquainted with the final "basic" checkmate, that of King plus two Knights against King and pawn. Even chess experts, those aware of this complex checkmate, are often unskilled in its execution.

Here is an example of the typical end phase of the actual mating procedure:


1-ue-article.jpg


Now the Black Knight can release the pawn and head to the Queenside for checkmate, not worrying about stalemate because White has to move his pawn.

Naturally, most chess players never encounter this obscure ending in their entire careers. But the chess goddess Caissa presented me on two occasions with a King and Knight pair against a lone King. The first was won from a drawn position, and the second was drawn from a won position - and to be fair, neither opponent thought checkmate to be possible at all.

King & 2 Knights vs. King & Pawn

[Event "?"] [Site "Memphis"] [Date "1982.06.12"] [Round "?"] [White "Barton, Mike"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C40"] [WhiteElo "1890"] [BlackElo "2035"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "172"] [EventDate "1982.06.12"] [EventType "game"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f5 3. exf5 e4 4. Ne5 Nf6 5. Be2 d6 6. Bh5+ Ke7 7. Nf7 Qe8 8. Nxh8 ({The alternative is} 8. Nc3 $5) 8... Qxh5 9. Qxh5 Nxh5 {[A fascinating endgame struggle arises, in which Black is down the Exchange, but there is a White Knight trapped on the h8-square.]} 10. d3 ({Already "+/-" according to Fritz, even on a deep search. Instead} 10. g4 Nf6 11. Rg1 {[%cal Yg2g3,Yg1g3] is suggested by P. Keres.}) 10... Bxf5 11. dxe4 Bxe4 12. O-O Bd5 13. Nc3 Bc4 14. Re1+ Kd7 15. b3 Be6 16. Nb5 $1 (16. Ne4 $13) 16... Na6 17. Bb2 $2 $13 ({ The machine gives} 17. Nd4 {as winning for White.}) 17... Be7 18. Nd4 Bf6 19. Nxe6 $2 (19. Rxe6 $1 Bxd4 20. Bxd4 Kxe6 21. Re1+ Kd7 22. Nf7 $13) 19... Bxb2 $17 20. Rab1 Bc3 21. Re3 Rxh8 22. Nxc7 Nxc7 23. Rxc3 Re8 24. Rd3 Re2 25. Rbd1 d5 26. R3d2 Rxd2 27. Rxd2 Nf6 28. c4 Kc6 29. cxd5+ Ncxd5 30. f3 b5 31. a3 a5 32. Rc2+ Kd6 33. Rc8 a4 34. bxa4 bxa4 35. Ra8 Nb6 36. Ra7 Nfd7 37. Kf2 Kc5 38. Ke3 (38. Rc7+ $142) 38... Kc4 39. Ke4 Kb3 40. Kf5 Kxa3 41. Ke6 Kb3 42. Kf7 g5 43. Kg7 Nc5 44. Kxh7 a3 {[/\ 45...Nba4 -+]} 45. Rxa3+ $8 Kxa3 46. Kg6 Ne6 47. Kf5 Nf4 48. Kxg5 (48. g3 Nh3 49. Kg4 Ng1 50. h4 gxh4 51. gxh4 Nd5 $11) 48... Nxg2 49. h3 $2 (49. h4 Nxh4 50. Kxh4 Kb4 $11) 49... Kb4 50. f4 Kc5 51. f5 Kd6 52. f6 Ke6 53. Kg6 Nf4+ 54. Kg7 Nd7 55. f7 Nh5+ 56. Kg6 Nf4+ 57. Kg7 Ke7 58. h4 Ne6+ 59. Kg6 Ndf8+ 60. Kf5 Ng7+ 61. Ke4 $2 (61. Kg4 Kxf7 62. h5 Nh7 63. h6 Ne6 64. Kf5 $11) (61. Kg5 $5 Nfe6+ 62. Kh6 $2 (62. Kg4 Kxf7 63. h5 $11) 62... Kxf7 63. Kh7 Nf5 64. Kh8 Nf8 65. h5 Ne7 66. h6 Neg6#) 61... Nh5 62. Kd5 Kxf7 {[Last capture.]} 63. Kd6 Kf6 64. Kc6 Ke5 65. Kc5 Ne6+ 66. Kc6 Nd4+ 67. Kb6 Kd5 (67... Kd6 $142) 68. Kb7 Nb5 69. Kb6 Nd4 70. Kc7 Ke5 71. Kd7 Kd5 $19 {[With his pawn blockaded on h4 White is lost.]} 72. Kc8 (72. Ke7 Ne6 73. Kf7 (73. Kd7 Nc5+ 74. Kc7 Na4 75. Kd7 Nb6+ 76. Kc7 Kc5 77. Kb7 Nd5 78. Ka6 Kb4 79. Kb7 Kb5) 73... Nef4 74. Ke7 Kc6 75. Ke8 Kd6 76. Kf7 Kd7 77. Kf8 Ng6+ 78. Kf7 Ne5+ 79. Kf8 Kd8 80. Kg8 Ke7 81. Kh7 Kf6 82. Kh6 Ng7 83. Kh7 Kf7 84. Kh6 Ng4+ 85. Kh7 Nf5 86. Kh8 (86. h5 Nf6+ 87. Kh8 Nh4 88. h6 Ng6#) 86... Nf6 87. h5 Nh4 88. h6 Ng6#) ( 72. Kc7 Nb5+ 73. Kb6 Nd6 74. Ka5 (74. Kc7 Nc4 75. Kd7 Nb6+) 74... Kc5 75. Ka4 Ne4 76. Kb3 Kb5 77. Kc2 Kc4 78. Kb2 Nd2 79. Kc2 Nb3 80. Kb2 Nd4 81. Ka3 Kb5 82. Kb2 Kb4) 72... Kd6 73. Kd8 Ne6+ 74. Kc8 Kc6 75. Kb8 Nc5 76. Kc8 (76. Ka8 Kc7 77. Ka7 Nf6 78. h5 Nfd7 79. h6 Nb8 80. h7 Nc6+ 81. Ka8 Nd7 82. h8=Q Nb6#) 76... Nb7 77. Kb8 Nd6 78. Ka7 Kb5 79. Kb8 Kb6 80. Ka8 Nc8 81. Kb8 Na7 82. Ka8 Nf6 83. h5 Nc6 {[Here is the reason that White must have a pawn!]} 84. h6 Kc7 85. h7 Nd7 86. h8=Q Nb6# 0-1 [Event "?"] [Site "Hot Springs"] [Date "1985.02.03"] [Round "?"] [White "Kohler"] [Black "Pickard, Sid"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A85"] [WhiteElo "1985"] [BlackElo "2150"] [Annotator "Pickard, S."] [PlyCount "222"] [EventDate "1985.06.12"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. d5 Nb4 8. Bb1 a5 9. a3 Na6 10. O-O Nc5 11. Ra2 d6 12. b4 axb4 13. axb4 Rxa2 14. Bxa2 Na6 15. Qb3 Kh8 16. Nd4 Bd7 17. Nce2 c5 18. dxc6 bxc6 19. Ba3 Qb6 20. Rb1 Ne4 21. Qd3 Qa7 22. f3 Nf6 23. b5 Nc5 24. b6 Qxb6 25. Rxb6 Nxd3 26. Bb1 Ne5 27. Ba2 c5 28. Nb5 Ra8 29. Nec3 Kg8 30. Bb2 Be6 $2 31. Nc7 Rxa2 32. Nxa2 Nxc4 33. Rb8+ Kf7 34. Nxe6 Kxe6 35. Bc1 Nd5 36. Rb3 Kd7 37. Kf2 Kc7 38. e4 fxe4 39. fxe4 Nf6 40. Nc3 Kc6 41. h3 e6 42. g4 d5 43. g5 Nd7 44. exd5+ exd5 45. Nb5 d4 46. Na7+ Kd5 47. Rb7 Nce5 48. Bf4 Nd3+ 49. Kf1 Ke6 50. Bd2 c4 51. Ke2 N3c5 52. Rc7 c3 53. Bf4 d3+ 54. Ke1 c2 55. Nb5 Bb2 56. Rc8 c1=Q+ 57. Bxc1 Bxc1 58. Nd4+ Kd5 59. Nf3 Bf4 60. Rh8 Ne4 61. Rxh7 d2+ 62. Nxd2 Bxd2+ 63. Ke2 Nf8 (63... Ne5 $142) 64. Rf7 Bb4 65. h4 Bd6 66. Kf3 Ke6 67. Rg7 (67. Rxf8 Nxg5+ $1 (67... Bxf8 68. Kxe4 Bd6 69. h5 $11) 68. Kg4 $1 Bxf8 69. Kxg5 Kf7 70. h5 Be7+ 71. Kg4 g5 72. Kf5 Kg7 $19 ) 67... Ng3 68. Kg4 Nf5 69. Rb7 Nd7 70. Rb3 Ne5+ 71. Kh3 Ng7 72. Rb6 Nh5 73. Ra6 Nf4+ 74. Kg3 Nfd3 75. Kh3 Nf7 76. Kg4 Nde5+ 77. Kf4 Nd3+ 78. Kg4 Nfe5+ 79. Kh3 Nc5 80. Rxd6+ Kxd6 81. h5 Ne6 82. hxg6 Nxg6 {[Last capture]} 83. Kg4 Ng7 84. Kf3 Ke5 85. Ke3 Nf5+ 86. Kd3 Kd5 87. Kc3 Ne3 88. Kd3 Nc4 89. Kc3 Nce5 90. Kb3 Kd4 91. Kb4 Nc6+ 92. Kb5 Kd5 93. Kb6 Nd4 94. Ka5 Kc5 95. Ka4 Kc4 96. Ka3 Kb5 97. Ka2 Ka4 98. Kb2 Kb4 99. Kc1 Kc3 100. Kd1 Kd3 101. Kc1 Nb3+ 102. Kb2 Nc5 103. Kc1 Na4 104. Kd1 Nb2+ 105. Kc1 Kc3 106. Kb1 Nd3 107. Ka2 Kb4 108. Kb1 Kb3 109. Ka1 Nc1 110. Kb1 Na2 $138 {[90 seconds remaining]} 111. Ka1 Nc3 {[With a pawn on g5, White can probably only be mated in the a8-corner.]} 1/2-1/2


An excellent introduction to the world of chess endgames is Blake's marvelous Endings for Beginners, now a digital chess e-book. However, the rare checkmate seen on this page is most interesting and well worth examining, not only for the fun of it but to learn masterful handling of everyone's favorite chess piece, the Knight!