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Friday, February 21, 2014

A Knight vs. Pawns Ending

     I recently played an offhand game against an 1800 where my opponent had an endgame advantage consisting of 2B’s and an extra P vs. my B+N. When he gave up a piece for 2P’s it looked like his passed P’s would win, especially when we reached an ending where my lone N (and Pawns) faced his Pawn mass. Knight endings are tough though!

Here are some general rules for these endings:
1. Botvinnik's Rule: Knight Endings are Pawn Endings - The techniques that win in a Pawn ending (breakthroughs, zugzwang, outside pawns, etc.) also work in Knight endings.
2. If a Knight occupies any square in a Pawn's promotion path (except a corner square) it can stop the Pawn from promoting.
3. Knight endings are tactical in nature!! Keep an eye out for forks, checks, moves with more than one purpose, and sacrifices.
4. The King supports the Knight along a diagonal when they're one square distant and along a rank or file when they're two squares distant.
5. If there are Pawns on both wings, centralize your King and Knight to increase their mobility. Knights have trouble protecting the a and h files.
6. Knights should defend passed Pawns from behind, and blocked Pawns from in front.
7. Knight endings are drawn more often than Rook endings, but they require more precise play.
8. In N vs. 2 Pawns if the King is supporting the Pawns and the other King is far away the Knight’s task is impossible, but if the King is in front of the Pawns then the Knight can usually be sacrificed for them.
9. A Knight has trouble against disconnected Pawns. If the King can stop one Pawn the game is probably drawn, but otherwise the distance may be too much for the Knight to cover.

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