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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Basic Knightmare Chess Endings #7: Guardian 04/06/2018

screenshot-from-2018-04-05-11-28-46King plus one pawn vs. king is essential chess knowledge, else one can’t win or draw games with the smallest  possible material imbalance remaining.

The serious student becomes familiar with the rook-pawn-plus-wrong-colored-bishop endgame early, because while one is learning K+P vs. K, teachers like to mention the unusual exception where an extra bishop won’t help:

diagram-4

White can’t gain control of the queening square, and the game is drawn. Its most famous occurrence was from the Fischer-Taimanov candidates match in 1971:

diagram-3

Black could draw by 1…Nd3 plus 2…Nf4 to stop the pawn, and if the white king moves to f5 to kick the knight, Black abandons it with …Kd6! then reaching h8.

The unusual nature of the wrong-bishop-plus-rook-pawn endgame makes Guardian interesting. A practical application in the first diagram: White wins by playing Guardian, combining a2-a3 plus Ba1-a2, changing the bishop to the correct-colored square. Then Ba2-d5 and a3-a4-a5-a6-a7-a8Q.

A more likely situation for Guardian is in an ending with bishops on opposite-colored squares. Most of those are draws, even when the strong side is ahead by several pawns. For example:

diagram-1

If White plays 1. a7, Black’s white-square blockade is bulletproof, and if 1. b7, then 1…Bxb7 draws. Guardian turns the game into a win for White because 1. a7 is accompanied by Ba5-a6!

Opposite-colored bishop endgames are common. I played this yesterday:

diagram-2

If my opponent playing Black held the Guardian card, he could play …Bg4-e6-d5, then Guardian to enable his bishop to counter mine, and win. I’m glad that didn’t happen.

Card text: Move one of your pawns forward (you may move two squares if the pawn is on the second rank). Your piece which was just behind the pawn may follow, so it remains directly behind. Your pawn is thus protected from en passant capture.

Categories Knightmare Chess

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