The king – a seldom used chess piece
The king is the most important chess piece on the board. Most amateur players don’t know how to integrate the royal monarch into their games. They dutifully tuck it away during castling but fail to understand its usefulness, particularly in endgame play. Once pieces are traded off, it’s important to start thinking about your king placement. The king should be centralized and part of your overall strategy for advancing your pawns down the board. It can serve offensively by threatening to capture enemy pawns, and defensively by keeping enemy pieces out of key squares. So, once you enter an endgame, ask yourself, “Where should I place my king? How can it help me to win the ending?”
In game of five of this ten game tournament I managed to earn another win. This now makes three in a row! My performance in this game was not as strong as in the others. I made some silly inaccuracies that I will cover in the game annotations. Fortunately, none of the were significant but they are still areas I can improve upon.
Paul H.– Chessmaster XI (Turk)
Ponziani Opening & Scotch Gambit [C44]
Holiday Invitational Round#5
All moves should have meaning. Be critical of moves you cannot justify. In my mind, Qa4 had a purpose but in hindsight it did nothing to improve my position. I should have played Be2 – to establish better control of the light-squares.
King activity. Getting my king to the center of the board played an important role in my victory. Just as I mentioned above, the king played a role in offense and defense. It secured the bishop on c6 and was instrumental in queening my c-pawn.
Bishop vs. knight ending. It’s important to decide which chess piece to retain in an ending. I assessed (correctly, I think) that my bishop was far superior to his knight. Look at the position below. My bishop and rook work well together to control a majority of the board. while Black’s pieces are uncoordinated and lack any attacking opportunities.
Analyze what the ending will look like before trading down material. Here, I saw my minor pieces were better than his. Another element was that my king, even on f2, was closer to the center than my opponent’s. This wasn’t a winning advantage for me but it was something I knew I could build on.
Keep maneuvering your chess pieces to better squares. In an ending like this, the focus is on the material imbalance. I have a better minor piece so the goal is to constantly improve my position by edging my pawns closer to their queening squares.
Additionally, I need to prevent counterplay from my opponent. That usually means closing down a file or as in this game, preventing Black’s rook from getting too active. Just because I was up a piece doesn’t mean I should forget about these principles. Always try to reduce your opponents counterplay no matter how much of an advantage you have.
Removing blockaders from your pawns. Removing Black’s c7 pawn was a priority for me. Once that fell, there was nothing he could do from preventing my c-pawn from queening. Even if you are up a piece, continue to find new ways of torturing your opponent. In this case, I used my extra piece to clear the way for my c-pawn which Black could not stop without sacrificing his rook – which he had to do later.
Even with a winning advantage, amateur players often aimlessly shuttle their pieces around allowing their opponent to create a blockade and sometimes force a draw. Always play actively. An extra chess piece is not a certificate of victory. The win has to be earned. Therefore, always adopt new plans to increase your advantage and beat your opponent.