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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

Fire your chess teacher #1: Elementary endings with knights 02/07/2019

This is the first post in the new category ‘fire your chess teacher’.

I listened to one chess teacher tell another about his lesson concerning knight and pawn vs. knight. You can sacrifice your knight for the pawn to make a draw, he teaches.

This is true, but it’s a crap lesson for many reasons:

1. It assumes that the student knows king and knight vs. king is a draw, a fact not in evidence. It assumes that the student be familiar which Fine’s endgame principle #1: To win without pawns, you must be at least a rook or two minor pieces ahead (two knights excepted). That’s in the book of lesson plans he was provided.

2. It doesn’t account for giving up the knight for the other knight. It’s *more* valuable to know which K+P positions are wins and draws, enabling one to handle most of the other piece plus pawn vs. same piece endings. In the diagram, should White remove the knights by 1. Ne2+?

diagram-18

3. It’s not an affirmative piece of knowledge. Better to know at least the 3×3 conclusions in K+B+N vs. K, which is actually easier to understand because there are fewer pieces on the board than K+N+P vs. K+N.

diagram-19

4. It’s not even as useful as knowing how to draw N vs. P when the defending king isn’t close enough to assist. as in this 1924 study by Cheron: 1 Ne2+! (1 Nd3+? Kd2 2 Nc5 Kc3 3 Ne4+ Kd4 4 Ng3 Kd3 -+)  1 … Kd1 (1 … Kd2 2 Nd4! =)  2 Nc3+ Kd2 3 Na2 =.

diagram-20

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