Chess Lovers and players – Understanding the End Game in Chess

There can be many different end games in chess. Any end game of chess invariably has the two kings apart from one or more of other chess pieces. The game in which none of the other pieces survive, apart from the kings, is obviously, a draw. More points are scored if the moves to end the game are fewer. Therefore, if the person is able to end the game of chess within the middle game, without much carnage, he or she would score more.

In general, end game can have 3 possible outcomes

a. The white could win;
b. The white could lose;
c. The game could be stalemate, or draw with neither party winning.

Obviously, the desirable outcome is winning. Usually, by the time the players playing chess reach the end game of chess, most of the pieces are eliminated, and very few powerful forces are around. It should be easy to win you’d think. But it is not! There are subtle moves that make the difference between winning and losing or a win and a stalemate. These subtle moves are the most important part of the end game.

Since there can be innumerable ways to end the game and many are innovative as well, only a few are discussed hereunder. For the purpose of understanding these moves better, the squares on X axis are identified with alphabet A to H, with the right hand extreme corner white colored square being H. Correspondingly, the rows on Y axis are identified with numbers 1 to 8. In addition, in the examples of end game discussed below, it will be presumed that black king is the target in the end game of chess.

1. Checkmate by sacrificing the queen

This is one of the interesting games that takes just about 7 moves for completion! The moves in this game are

a. White Pawn to E4.
b. Black pawn to E5.
c. White Knight to F3, attacking the black pawn in E5.
d. Black Knight to C6, defending the black pawn in E5
e. White bishop to C4
f. Black Pawn to D6
g. White Knight to C3
h. Black Bishop to G4
i. White knight on F3 kills Black Pawn on E5. Note that this square is protected by Black pawn on D6, and Black knight on C6.
j. At this point, Black Bishop on G4 opts to kill the white queen moving to D1. This leaves the field open for White Bishop in C4 to move up to F7. Since the knight is already there at E5 protecting this white bishop, the King is left with no alternative but to step aside. The second white knight on C3 is moved up to D5 to give a check to the king, and king has no other place to go.

If instead of picking the queen, the white knight on E5 would have been picked with the black pawn or the black knight, such dramatic defeat of black king would not have been possible.

2. Checkmate because of wrong opening game

This game takes just 2 moves!

1. White Pawn on F4
2. Black Pawn on E3
3. White Pawn on G4
4. Black Queen on H4

Effectively, there is no middle game at all! Just opening and ending games with white player having no choice but to surrender, immediately.

3. End game with white king and queen versus the black king:

In such a case the black king would try to stay towards the chess board’s center, and it becomes necessary for white queen to sweep it towards one of the board’s edges. The white queen, while maintaining the distance like a knight from the black king, manages to steer the black king towards the edge closer to the white king. The white queen needs the help of her king. After steering the black king to the edge row, the white queen first distances herself from the black king, on the row or column adjoining such edge row. This move limits the black king to only the last row. Now the white king moves to a position in such a way that the black king is pushed towards one corner of that row. The queen now moves in closer with the white king protecting her and absolutely pins the black king.

  1. The position of your pawns matters.You already know that pawns can become Queen, rook, knight or bishop on reaching the other end. Some interesting positions in the end game of chess emerge because of pawns. The blocking stance is best described as black pawn with its king in the row above it followed by an empty row, and then the white king exactly in the same column as the black pieces. When this alignment is achieved, there is no way the pawn can reach the other end. Therefore, such alignment can be the best defense against an imminent defeat from black king.

When there is a pawn hanging on, the white king may or may not manage to save it. If the choice is between saving the pawn, and preventing the black pawn from reaching the edge and becoming one of the forces, then sacrificing the white pawn is the obvious choice. But while doing so, it is necessary to calculate the number of steps the white king would need to block or kill the black pawn on its way to becoming the queen or whichever force. Even if the distance seems far visually, the steps may be just enough to kill the pawn, because the king can move diagonally, horizontally and vertically. The diagonal movement reduces the distance between the white king and the black pawn faster.

5. End games with rooks:

In the case two rooks are around, white king can help to keep the black king in a position from where it can only go towards the board’s edge. However, two rooks can end the game without the need of white King intervening because there is no limit to the extent that they can move across any row or column as the case may be. The trick in rooks based end game is to try to push the black king towards one of the edges. For this, the rook that is farthest away from black king cuts off a row or column defining the edge towards which the black king is to be forced. The second rook moves to the adjoining row or column of this boundary, if possible, or it travels across towards this farthest rook, and halts just a column or row before it. The first rook then moves to the row or column below this column or row on which the second rook is positioned. The sequential movements between the two rooks thereafter is similar to the way humans walk.

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