Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Opposition

In pawn endgames, beginners have the inclination to launch immediately pawns towards promotion. Frequently they realize too late that the opponent’s king stops them.

The right approach in that type of endgames is to move the own king in front of the pawn. The reversed strategy not always works.

The reason for that is to clear the way with the king using what in chess is known as “opposition” of kings.

The opposition is a useful resource to prevent the opponent’s king from approaching the pawn and at the same time escort the pawn towards the last rank.

To illustrate it, look at the following diagram:

It is worth to mention that if it was Black’s turn in the initial position, he/she would get the opposition playing 1…Kf5. In that case, it is impossible for White to clear the way for the pawn. Check it by yourself!

Understanding the “rule of opposition” saves a lot of time in evaluating the endgame, especially because of the time control.

Even assuming that this is a basic chess rule, sometimes players forget or have confusion about it.

The following example is the final position from a game played more than 100 years ago. The player conducting White is Rudolf Spielmann (1883-1942), a renowned and strong chess player contemporary of Alekhine, Capablanca and Lasker.

Despite his mastery, Spielmann lost the thread and didn’t see the chance to keep the opposition of kings. Instead, allowed his opponent to have the advantage of taking himself the opposition.

In these uncertain times of COVID-19 pandemic when chess fans can not enjoy games over the board, our virtual club regularly organizes online tournaments and matches.
A new tournament will start on Dec, 12th. Register now and join it. Limited slots!!
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