18 July 2016

Balancing Advantages

A friend posted this position on Facebook, which he had reached in a game against a computer. He managed to lose it. Initially, I thought that his move from this position was the losing move and suggested another. After a few minutes analysis playing ideas out on a board, I discovered that his move and mine lead to the same result.

After more time with the position, I concluded that it had instructive potential.

White to move

How do you play?

a) Escort your passed h-pawn?
b) Rush your king to the queenside with ideas of capturing Blacks pawns there?
c) Something else?


  1. Wow, this is a tricky one without a board or computer! Off the top of my head: 1. h6? Kf7! must be a mistake. So there's escorting the pawn through (1.Kg6), but then Black is going to queen with check a move after White queens, and a perpetual looks likely. That apparently leaves 1.Kf4 c4 2.Ke3 c3 (2...b3 3.axb3 and Kd2; 2...a3 3.bxa3 b3 4. axb3 and Kd3) and now White can lose if he's careless after 3.cxb3? b3 4.axb3 a3. However, if white plays 3.b3 we apparently get 3...axb3 4.axb3 Kf5! 5.f4! Kf6! where both the white and black kings shuttle back and forth and neither side can push a pawn without losing it--and the game. Interesting! (Just looked at it with a board--don't see anything obviously wrong with my analysis. Looks like a draw?)

    1. Err, that was Dave Sprenkle by the way--forgot to sign my post!

    2. When I looked at it, I thought 1.Kf4 was winning, so I tried it against the computer and drew. My friend played 1.Kg6 and lost, but it seems like a drawn ending where both players get queens--tricky for humans under time pressure.