|Endgame article by Jan Drtina|
The king's name starts with the letter K in several European languages, and the letter R in others. The English rook (R) is often a castle or tower in other languages (der Turm in German = T). The Queen is a dame in many languages (German: die Dame). The knight leaps, and so in German is der Springer and represented by the letter S. In German, the bishop is a runner (der Laufer), but in French is a fool (Fou), while in Russian it remains true to the game's ancient origins and is an elephant (Slon).
My German is weak, and my abilities in such languages as Russian and Czech are nonexistent. Nevertheless, I can read the chess notation in the endgame article "Theorie pĕšee proti králi" from Časopis českých šachistů (1907). The words are beyond my skill set aside from a handful of essential cognates: I can make out the terms opposition, diagonal opposition, vertical opposition, and critical square in the article.
In this article, Jan Drtina (1834-1907) examines both opposition and critical squares with reference to four diagrams. The article was published posthumously--an obituary for Drtina appears several pages earlier. I shall give what I am able to decipher concerning the second position.
White to move
1.Kd2 seizes the opposition, but Black replies 1...Ke7. Then, 2.Kd3 Kd7! and now Black has the opposition. White's pawn will not promote.
Drtina then gives the line 1.Kc2! Ke7! 2.Kb3! Kd6 3.Kb4! Kc6 4.Kc4! Kc7 5.Kd5 Kd7 6.c4 (here he has a reference to the previous position's analysis) 6...Kc7 7.Kc5! Kd8 8.Kd6 Kc8! (here he says something about a critical square) 9.c6 Kc8! 11.c7.
Drtina goes on to discuss the work of Johann Berger, Theorie und Praxis der Endspiele (1890). My sense from the text is that he takes issue with Berger's discussion of the opposition, but I must bone up on my German and spend some time perusing Berger's text as a preliminary step to struggling with the Czech in Drtina's article.
Of this much I am certain. In the position below, White has two moves that seize the opposition.
White to move
1.Kb6 seizes the vertical opposition and leads to a draw.
1.Kd6! seizes the diagonal opposition and wins in a manner much akin to the end of the Drtina's line from the previous diagram.
Google translate helps:
"Tady to sice neni oposice (Here it is not opposition) ... 1.Ke6 neb i odtud dosahne kritickeho pole d7 a tu je jeste jedna take-take-oposice (1.Ke6 because thence to a critical field d7 and there is still a take-take-opposition)."Taking the opposition is insufficient to win, one must seize a critical square. There is some indication in a few things that I have read that the theory of critical squares was developed by Jan Drtina independently of Abbé Philippe Ambroise Durand, Stratégie Raisonnée Des Fins de Partie Du Jeu D'Échecs (1871)--half a century earlier (see discussion at chessgames.com by Gypsy). Such work adds fundamentally to Berger's discussion of the opposition.
Drtina, "Theorie pĕšee proti králi," 137.
In "Opposition and Outflanking," I quoted Jeremy Silman: "the opposition is only a means to an end, not the end itself."