22 October 2010

Simple Opposition

White to move

Skilled players need no more thought to play this position correctly than to speak the basic phonemes in their native language. That's the contention of Rashid Ziyatdinov, whose book I discussed last February in "GM-RAM: Essential Knowledge."

The position arose in Malakhov-Najer, Moscow 2007 and came to my attention via the CD Chess Informant 5-99 Endings Section. Endgames have been part of every issue of Chess Informant since issue 5 in the late 1960s. Most problems are more difficult than this one.


  1. My first reaction was Kd4 ( which is I think, correct, and in line with the post title) but typically, I then started to think about f4. However, this eventually loses ( or rather draws ) as the White king can capture the Black pawn, but lose his own ....

  2. Yes, Kd4 takes the opposition and is the only winning move.

  3. Yes. As I supposedly "skilled" player, I'd agree with Ziyatdinov that this is easy to play. My first instinct was 1.Kd4 too--I'd play it in a blitz game without hesitation. Soltis calls that "shouldering"--we're keeping Black's king out of the action until it's too late.

    Black has only two ways to have a chance to draw this: 1). Get his king over to help his pawn, or at least to get in front of white's pawn, which White should of course prevent (1...Kb5 2.Kd5, all the way up to c7 till Black gives up), or more likely, 2). (Which Signalman is referring to) Getting his king behind White's pawn. For example, if White has a king at f6 and pawn at f5, Black draws if his king has gotten to e4.

    White should just keep Black's king shouldered off until it goes up the board to try and circle around from behind. Then White should shove his pawn as far as Black will let him, then approach the black pawn from the side and win it. Easy peesy.