Let's Get Critical By Bruce Pandolfini Some say "key squares," others say "critical squares." You say "to-may-toe," I say "to-mah-toe," let's call the whole thing off. If we do, I have a feeling it won't impact George and Ira Gershwin very much, but it could give me an out. That way, I might be able to avoid doing this month's column. Only kidding. Okay, now that we've started with a bit of humor, we can actually talk about the ten examples that follow. They all reflect simple positions in which the black king has to get to a critical square in order to force a win. As with all critical square situations, the defending king in each of these positions doesn't have to occupy a critical … [Read more...]
The Opposition Strikes Again!
The Opposition Strikes Again! By Bruce Pandolfini "The opposition: what's that, the opponent?" How often I've heard students say something like that. Yet many experienced players use "the opposition" to mean something else. They use it to indicate a relationship between the two kings, especially in the endgame. If you "have the opposition," it's essentially the same thing as saying you have the advantage. For the most part, if on the same rank, file or diagonal, the kings "stand in opposition" if they (a) are on squares of the same color and (b) are separated by an odd number of squares. (This is not the place to bring up "the rectangular opposition," "the knight's jump opposition," or … [Read more...]
Outranking by Outflanking
Outranking by Outflanking by Bruce Pandolfini In the opening, when you flank, you develop a bishop to the side and aim it at the center. In the endgame, when you outflank, well, you don't do the opposite. That is, you don't develop a bishop to the center and aim it at the flank. Good old endgame. It's full of all kinds of themes and fancy names to designate those themes. The concept of outflanking: that's a military term in real life, but what's it got to do with chess? Chess experts and theorists seem to use it in slightly different ways. Nevertheless, for many endgame enthusiasts, outflanking tends to refer to maneuvers by which one king, primarily using the opposition, is able to … [Read more...]