Game Spotlight: The Fighting King

A lot of endgame knowledge is very technical.  But there’s one rule that shows up the most often, and is most associated with winning an endgame — getting your King active.  To understand why that is, we need to look at one of the first pieces of strategy advice you learned, which is how much each piece is worth.

A lot of the older systems of assigning value to pieces simply don’t give the King a value at all.  Since you can’t trade the King for anything, working out how much to trade for it is a useless exercise.  The problem is that we don’t only use these values for working out how good a trade is.  We also understand a piece’s value as its “fighting strength”.  Fortunately, GM Larry Kaufman worked this out with statistics in 1996, and found the King was a fighting strength of 4 pawns — more than either the Bishop or Knight!  So once the danger of getting checkmated is over, getting your King developed and fighting for you is very important.

For our game this week, I wanted to show this in action.  Note how White arranges to get the King into the game here, and how it’s so important that it’s worth giving up pawns to accomplish:

The biggest event of the Nairobi Chess Club year is coming up.  Join us on August 23-25 for the Open Championship at Goan Gymkhana.  And if you can help out with funding for the venue, extra tables, arbitration, and so forth, please do so here.

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