30 November 2019

Queen versus Knight

Winning with queen versus knight is an elementary skill, but it is easy to falter with the wrong plan. This morning, I struggled briefly with a position that resulted from misplaying a bishop and pawn versus knight ending that I found in Rashid Ziyatdinov, GM-RAM: Essential Grandmaster Knowledge (2000).

White to move


Obvious first move--trap the knight.

1...Ke7 2.Kc5 Kd7 3.Kb5 Ke7 4.Kc6 Kf7

White to move

5.d6 Ke6 6.d7

6.Bd4 would have simplified matters. 6...Nf4 7.d7 Ke7 8.Bc5 and attempting to occupy the promotion square leads to a quick checkmate.

6...Kxe5 7.d8Q Nf4

White to move

I reached this position thinking it would be easier than it was. It became clear that I could use some work on elementary skills.

Elements of the Game of Chess

After several efforts, then engine checking, followed by further practice, I began to see some patterns. I then remembered an old textbook that had some exericises, William Lewis, Elements of the Game of Chess (1822). In "Lesson One" (August 2017), I discussed the merits of Lewis's approach to elementary checkmates with the queen. Queen vs. knight is the next chapter in his book.

Lewis's first position is instructive, and his solution is very close to what chess engines reveal today.

White to move

Queen vs. Knight, 1822

1.Qd4+ Ke6 2.Ke4

Black to move 


Lewis gives the variation 2...Nc6 3.Qd5+.
The engine shows that 2...Nf7 holds out one move longer.


Lewis's technique takes one move longer than the engine's top two choices.

3...Kf7 4.Kf5 Ne7+ 5.Kg5 Nd5 6.Qd6 Ne7 7.Qf6+ Ke8 8.Qe6 Kd8 9.Kf6 Nc8

White to move

10.Qc6 Na7

10...Ne7 11.Qd6+

11.Qb6+ 1-0

Lewis treats his readers to two more positions. In both cases, White has a knight-winning fork on the second move.

White to move

My students will be seeing these positions this coming week.

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