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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Opposition

In this post I wanted to explain the term Opposition. Understanding the opposition is vital in playing K&P endings correctly and I encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with it to study the techniques and try some practice positions until thoroughly familiar with the procedure. Opposition is a term defining the relationship between the Kings. In the diagram the Kings stand in opposition, more precisely in vertical direct opposition (direct means as near as possible). The player who does not have the move is said to ‘have the opposition.’

In the diagram Black is on the move so White has the opposition and he wants to get to the 7th rank on the Queen's side:

1...Kc5 2.Kc3 Kb5 3.Kb3 Ka5 4.Kc4 This move represents another strategy one simply must know - outflanking. This is a maneuver with Kings which makes forward progress while at the same time prevents the opponent from taking the opposition. In order to outflank the Black K, White must temporarily giving up the opposition. In K&P endings it is important to be aware that this maneuver exists. 4...Kb6 If 4...Ka6 then Black has the opposition because it's White's move so White must play 5.Kc5 Ka7 (5...Kb7 6.Kb5) 6.Kc6 Ka8 7.Kc7] 5.Kb4 Retaking the opposition. 5...Ka6 6.Kc5 Outflanking again. 6...Kb7 7.Kb5 Retaking the opposition again. 7...Kc7 8.Ka6 Kb8 9.Kb6 Ka8 10.Kc7 and wins.
This maneuver is important to know because the player having the opposition can force his way to any part of the board.

Conversely in the diagram, if instead of seeking to advance, White might want to stop Black from advancing. So, if it is Black’s move, White has the opposition and he can prevent Black’s K from advancing. The player having the opposition can prevent the advance of his opponent's King by 1...Kc5 2.Kc3 or 1...Ke5 2.Ke3

Distant Opposition

If a rectangle is drawn large enough to contain the two Kings, and if it contains an odd number of squares, then the Kings are standing in opposition. This is so in the above diagram (Black to move) in which the rectangle of 5 x 7 square =35, an odd number.

Suppose White, who has the opposition, wants to get to King's side.

1...Ke7 2.Kc1 Kf7 3.Kd1 Ke7 4.Ke1 Now we see another term: Vertical Distant Opposition. There are an odd number of squares between the Kings. 4...Kf7 5.Kf1 Kg7 6.Kg1 Kh7 7.Kh2 Now we see the outflanking maneuver again. 7...Kg6 8.Kg2 Taking the vertical distant opposition again. Note there is an odd number of squares between the Kings. 8...Kf6 9.Kh3 Kg5 10.Kg3 Taking the direct opposition as explained earlier.

Practical Example

In the above position with Black to move White has the opposition so he wins because he can force the advance of his King and thus gain control of the queening square.

1...Ke7 2.Ke5 Kd7 3.Kd5 Kc7 4.Kc5 Kb7 5.Kb5 Another point to remember: Now that his King is on the queening file, White is ready to perform the outflanking maneuver. 5...Kc7 6.Ka6 Kb8 7.Kb6 Kc8 8.Ka7 and the Pawn will promote.

In the same position, If it is White’s move, Black has the opposition and will be able to prevent the Pawn from queening because White will be unable to advance his King.

1.Ke5 Ke7 2.Kd5 Kd7 3.Kc5 Kc7 4.Kb5 Kb7 5.Ka5 Ka7 There is no way White can queen. For example 6.b5 Kb7 7.b6 Kb8! This is the only move to hold the draw. Losing moves are:

7...Ka8 gives White the opposition after 8.Ka6 Kb8 9.b7 Kc7 10.Ka7
7...Kc8 This gives White the opposition after 8.Ka6 Kb8 9.b7 Kc7 10.Ka7

8.Ka6 Ka8 9.b7+ Kb8 10.Kb6 Stalemate

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