Prophylactic pawn move saves the game in this Knight and Pawn ending


Yuri Sergeyevich Balashov, a Russian chess grandmaster, wrote an excellent endgame book many years ago that impressed this dimmer light in many ways. The Shadrinsk native has a predilection for making general claims about various types of positions. One such claim which stuck with me is an assertion to the effect that Knight and Pawn endings very frequently assume the same characteristics and guiding principles as their corresponding King and Pawn ending.

Such was the case in the following game played at the internet chess club where Tromp playing out of Guernsey with Black pieces reached the diagrammed position with it being his turn and obligation(reason Zugzwang is a Royal Game strategem) to move.

The position is much more critical for Black than if the Knights were removed. In fact, there is only one move that maintains drawing chances or, more accurately, a likely draw. With the Horses off the board, the draw appears to be a pedestrian exercise.

Black’s square denying move is easy to find given the weak pawn targets at b6 and d6. Tromp blundered with the natural Kf8 and eventually lost the King and Pawn ending after the First player’s d pawn promoted to Queen.

The prophylactic pawn move b5 keeps the White Stead off of c4 which attacks aforementioned weak squares. In his magnum opus titled My System, Nimzowitsch made a big deal about the weakness of square independent of whether said square is occupied or not.

Tromp may have been distracted by pretty girls on the beach in this resort area English Channel Bailiwick. Also, I wonder if today’s super strong GMs like Wesley So have even heard of Aron Nimzowitsch. Hikaru Nakamura has stated that studying Steinitz and Lasker is a waste of time.

Guernsey chess player has to find an only move to hold the draw
Guernsey chess player has to find an only move to hold the draw

2 comments on “Prophylactic pawn move saves the game in this Knight and Pawn endingAdd yours →

  1. Shout out to all the friends and family of chess advocate, ambassador,and organizer John Bisson. Helluva guy whose memories and images are forever seared in psyches of Guernsey chess community.

  2. I had a copy of Basic Endgames 888 positions which was co-authored by Eduard Prandstetter. Lost it when we had to move to Dallas from New Orleans after Katrina. One helluva endgame book man!

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