Magic of pawn endgames: The Drtina Study Part – 1

Magic of pawn endgames: The Drtina Study Part – 1

2 737

Pawn endgames can seem easy to play and understand. But even in so simple positions there are many subtleties.

I’m going to show some subtle nuances in king+pawn vs king endgame.

First thing to know is the rule of the square: if the defending king is inside the square of the promoting pawn then he can stop it

Black to move just enters the square of the a pawn with 1…Ke4 and its a draw.

If the defending king is already in the square of the pawn it is important not to push the pawn but reach, with the attacking king, the so called key squares:

Look at this example: b5,c5,d5 are the key square and White to move wins easily with 1.Kc4!!

This way he gets the so called OPPOSITION, Black is forced to move away and give access to a key square

I give a sample line:

1.Kc4 Kd6 2.Kb5 Kc7 3.Kc5 Kb7 4.Kd6 Kb6 5.c4 Kb7 6.c5 Kc8 7.Kc6 Kb8 8.Kd7 Kb7 9.c6 and White promotes and wins.

So it is clear that the battle for the key squares is often decided by which side gets the opposition.


There are many different kinds of oppositions:

1. Normal Opposition

2. Distant Opposition

3. Very Distant Opposition

4. Diagonal Opposition

Usually all these kind of opposition will in the end get to normal oposition, allowin to fight for the key square of the pawn.

So, it looks simple but in the endgame we will look at now things are a bit more complicated.


The following position is a study published in 1906 by chess composer Drtina.

White to move and win.

First thing to notice is that Black’s king is already inside the square of the c-pawn.

So, in order to win, White has to reach the key squares (b5, c5 or d5) with his king, BEFORE advancing his pawn.

Key squares will be reached through opposition: to get a win it is important that White reaches a position with King on c4 and Black’s king on c6, (opposition) BUT…. it has to be Black’s move, otherwise the opposition is lost by White!

Let us look at a wrong attempt by White:

1.Kd2 is wrong: how should black reply? Remember the different kinds of opposition!

Analysis of this wrong attempt, and the correct solution will be posted in our next chapter…;)

Meanwhile…have fun!!!



Leave a Reply