The Fabulous 10’s: Some Humoristical Think-Quick Endgames

Either You Know It or You Don’t

In an ICC 5-minute blitz game I found myself battling LeopoldStotch.  This person’s profile says he is 9 years old, from Colorado, and the current rating of the child genius at least in ICC blitz is 2506!

Let’s pick up the action at the very end, where I have 12 seconds left and the nine year old, (typical for nine year olds), has more than a minute.  Blitz is the ultimate arbiter asking “Do You Know This Position?”  A person “inventing a solution” for the first time, i.e. muddling through, won’t win in the 12 seconds!

IM Aries2 – LeopoldStotch (2506)

White to move

Well, 1. Kb6?? stalemate does not suggest itself.    1. Rf7 Ba7  2. Kc6 B-somewhere doesn’t get anywhere either!  I found the key idea, a tempo loss,

1. Rg8 (or other rook moves along the 8th rank).  Black’s reply is forced:


Do you see the win now?    Escaping me in the time remaining was the very simple 2. Rg7+ Ka8 3. Kb6 B-somewhere 4. a7! nailing the black king in and preventing the bishop return to b8.  Even if the bishop can now check the white king, the white king finds haven on a6 and there no stalemates, so white wins.

This tempo loss motif finds its way into other endings where white has to break down a compact black formation.

One such position is discussed in Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.







White to play


In a blitz or regular game sudden death finale, it really pays to know this, because otherwise one would run out of time!

The annoyance is that a player’s first tendency is to use the White King close up to mate the counterpart, but 1. Qa6? Rc7+ 2. Kb6 Rc6+! 3. Kxc6 is stalemate!  A typical blunder where the king and queen were just too close!

The win is quite elegant and not the most obvious.

1. Qe5+! Ka8 (or 1…Ka7, same thing) 2. Qa1+! (using the long-range power of the queen) 2…Kb8 3. Qa5! reaching the same position as our starting one except now it’s black to move.  It turns out black cannot keep his rook near the king, and it must move far away, where it is lost in a few moves due to the checks.  For example, 3…Rb1 (3…Rh7 4. Qe5+ Ka8 5. Qa1+! (this again!) 5…Kb8 (or 5…Ra7 6. Qh8 mate!) 6. Qb1+ is another excellent example of the queen’s range, picking up the rook) 4. Qd8+ Ka7 5. Qd4+ Ka8 6. Qh8+ Ka7 7. Qh7+ picking up the errant rook!

As Dvoretsky points out, Philidor introduced this study in 1777.  It demonstrates very well how the queen can make use of all the squares on the board. If I had seen it anytime between 1777 and 2009, I would have defeated IM Pruess in the Mesa International!  I could not figure out how to separate the K & R in a sudden death finale.

And never mind the time I could not defeat IM Danny Edelman at the Manhattan Chess Club in a Game/30 game, because I mistakenly believed in K&B&N versus lone king, the B&N *must* keep the opposing king penned to the last rank and shepherd it to the right corner.  That false idea kept me from executing the correct B&N mate, where the superior side *does* allow the lone king some breathing room while it is shepherded to the corner of the bishop’s color.  At least it was a moral victory of sorts since it was a good game before the botch (I recall I was white in a Winawer, but lost the game score.)  This game, of course, was a long time ago because the poor Manhattan Chess Club does not exist anymore.

Now I’m 0 for 3 in these things, but at least have started to collect the failures!


Try this agonizing puzzle from Dvoretsky’s excellent “Endgame Manual 2nd Edition”!

White to play and win.

A Real Head-Scratcher

The first moves are obvious: 1. b6 axb6 2. a6 Kb6Kc6  Now what?


Many readers are asking about 14-year-old GM Illya Nyzhnik (2530) from Ukraine (note: this is a Chessbase spelling, some people prefer Nyzhnyk which is cooler).  For example what does he look like?

Here he is.

The Nyzh

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3 Responses to “The Fabulous 10’s: Some Humoristical Think-Quick Endgames”

  1. Anon Says:

    Everyone knows ‘LeopoldStotch’ is Sam Shankland so don’t be discouraged!

    It’s not about the ratings of the players; it’s about having no time in blitz but knowing elementary endgames. 😀 In fact the article applies to anyone – if the superior side knows the way to go, it doesn’t matter what the rating is of the other side – they are playing only moves.

  2. Kurt Schlusselnase Says:

    Es scheint in diesem Augenblicke nichts Besseres fur Schwarz die Zuge in einem Scheisstopf zu machen.

  3. Chris Falter Says:

    With regard to the Dvoretsky question…

    First of all, I think you intended 2…Kc6. 2…Kb6 is not possible as a black pawn stands on the square.

    The near miss is 3. Bxd6 b5 4. Bc5 Kc7 5. Ba7 Kc6 6. Kd3 b4 7. Kc4 b3 8. Kxb3 Kb5 and black collects the a pawn, so =.

    The solution is the surprising 3. Be7! which seems to do nothing, but white threatens to bring his bishop to d8, when black’s king will be in zugzwang. If black allows this with, for example, 3…b5 4. Bd8, white then collects the black pawns at his leisure, at which point black will have to move his king and lose.

    To prevent this fate black can try 3…Kc7, but then 4. Bxd6+ Kc6 5. Kd3 and now white has gained a tempo compared to the near miss line, which allows him to keep black’s king out of b5. (Sometimes you have to lose a tempo to gain a tempo!) Play might proceed 5…b5 6. Bc5 Kc7 7. Ba7 Kc6 8. Kc3 Kc7 9. Kb4 Kc6 10. Ka5 and now black is truly in zugzwang.

    BTW, I never knew you at Princeton, but I did live down the hall from Ken Regan on 4th floor Brown when he was a senior and I was a sophomore (80-81 year). Really nice guy, though never the type to spend all weekend at the eating clubs. Note that this speaks well of him, not ill!

    Best regards,

    Chris Falter (Princeton ’83)

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