An End Game in West Valley City, Utah (at the Harman Chess Club)

Can a chess book prepare a club player for an end game? It depends on both the book and the game. Basic principles of the end game can be learned from chess books, to be sure, but experience over-the-board and careful pondering of possibilities can count for much. Be prepared for complexities in seemingly simple positions.

The following end game illustrates how to play an endgame with an extra minor piece. It was played in early 2016, at the Harman Senior Recreation Center, southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. Jonathan had the white pieces against Vinn, in this ladder game of the senior chess club.

Jonathan versus Vinn in West Valley, Utah

White to move – what would you do? (Jonathan vs Vinn)

In the above position, White has gotten into an endgame with a bishop in exchange for Black’s two extra pawns. How can White take advantage of that extra minor piece?

Jonathan realized that his pawn at a3 could not be protected for long. He wanted to win, but he was concerned about the challenge of his opponent’s two connected passed pawns after the capture of the pawn at a3.

What about protecting that pawn by moving the bishop to b2? Black would then be able to play Rb3, attacking both bishop and pawn. If White then moved Bc1, that rook could move to c3, again attacking both pawn and bishop. But Jonathan found a solution to the threat of his opponent getting more passed pawns.

bishop attacks pawn at b6

White moved the bishop to d4, attacking a black pawn

Jonathan moved the bishop to the d4 square, offering an exchange of pawns. Perhaps Vinn should now have moved his pawn at b6 to b5, saving it from capture by the bishop, but he moved instead the pawn at g7 to g5.

Notice the power of the bishop in the above position. It does three things:

  1. Attacks Black’s pawn at b6
  2. Attack’s Black’s pawn at g7
  3. Prevents Black’s e-pawn from advancing

Black preserves the g-pawn

Black moved g5, to free up his rook to capture the pawn at a3

Vinn wanted to capture the white pawn at a3 without allowing his pawn to be captured at g7. Jonathan was happy about that, for he was much more concerned about his opponent’s queenside pawns. Now he eliminates one of them.

White moved Bxb6

The bishop captured the pawn at b6

Notice that after the bishop captured Black’s b-pawn the pawn at e4 still cannot advance without being captured. Now the best that Black has is probably to capture the pawn at a3, for the black rook would then be defending the pawn at a5. The e-pawn will just have to be abandoned.

Within a few moves, Jonathan found a way to protect his g-pawn with his rook, freeing his king to advance towards his opponent’s a-pawn. Vinn resigned.


Harman Chess Club in Utah

Chess books in the library of the Harman Senior Recreation Center

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