King and Pawn vs King and Pawn | Chess Endgames

Endgames where each side has the King and a Pawn are usually drawn, but there are exceptions which lead to winning positions!

For an introduction to King and Pawn endgames, watch the video on opposition:

When it comes to king and pawn endgames, regardless of which ones precisely (king and pawn vs king or king and pawn vs king and pawn, or any other combination), three quintessential rules apply:

1. Opposition – when the kings are an odd number of squares apart, whoever is not to move has the opposition. This means that the other side has a compulsion to move which often leads to an unfavorable position.

2. Rule of the square – each passed pawn can be easily understood, and its chances of promotion easily calculated if you follow the rule of the square which states that if the opponent’s king is within the square or is able to reach it on its next move, the pawn can be caught. The square is drawn by making a perfect square using your pawn’s square and its promotion square as the two corners.

2. Critical squares – each pawn has critical squares. If your king is able to reach them, that means that you will be able to herd the pawn to promotion. If your opponent’s king reaches them first, the game is a draw.

These three rules (or principles) are the essence of King and Pawn vs King and Pawn endgames. The difference is that in these endgames, you might encounter different types of position as well. Those positions will require calculation two main factors as well: The distance of your king to the opponent’s pawn, and the distance of the pawns to their promotion square.

Generally, using only these, you will be able to reduce the amount of calculation needed to play these endgames successfully. Since there are numerous positions with K&P vs K&P, there are sadly no strict rules you could adhere to. Each position can be an exception which you aren’t prepared to encounter.

There are numerous studies which present these exceptions, and while they are extremely unlikely to occur in a real game, the studies may be the best way to prepare yourself for something extraordinary. One of them (composed by Reti) I shown in the video.

Most of the time, though, simply understanding opposition, critical squares and the rule of the square (and applying that knowledge!) is going to be enough for precise play.

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29 Comments

  1. In the last one there is another blunder you can make, which is 1.Kf4 Kb5 2.Ke5 because black goes Kc4 and you cant take blacks pawn and cant protect your own pawn, and aren't even close to have oposition

  2. Your endgame series is really great. Thanks a lot for making. Only i miss chapters here.. so i made them here: 😀00:03: Intro00:38: 3 Critical roules:The principle of opposition.The roule of the squareThe roule of the critical squares (key squares).2:41: Endgames with the pawns on the same file. First example.5:23: Same position with black too play6:52: Same file pawns: Rook pawns.10:14: The shouldering technique to give opponents king a longer route.11:28: Trick to gain opposition.14:13: How to calculate the rule of the square; example with rook pawns.15:48: Rule of the square; exaple with f vs c file pawn.18:08: The possability of moving in 2 seemingly diferent directions at the same time.21:43: Pawns on same file, but with no gap inbetween the pawns.

  3. first like first comment was on youtube waiting for your video

  4. Is there any book which comprises of important endgame studies?

  5. 5:48 d5+? wooow huge blunder! Ke5 should be a very familiar position!

  6. I hate these endgames… Which means it's great we get these videos.

  7. Thank you very much Stjepan. I have never seen an explanation as detailed as yours, before. Your material is very helpful!!!

  8. The first position is a draw. If 1.Kg4 like at 3:20 then the simplest draw is 1…d5! (1…Kb7 and 1…Kc7 also draw.) Now the black king just waits around and whenever white king takes on d5, black plays Kd7. Which means that white absolutely must play 1.d5 to prevent this plan. The problem is that white d5-pawn is too close to the black king and gets captured. Then the white king must take the opposition to draw.

    1.d5 Kc7 2.Kg4 Kb6 3.Kf5 Kb5 4.Ke4 (4.Kf6?? Kc4! 5.Ke6 Kc5 0-1) Kc4 5.Ke3 Kxd5 6.Kd3 ½-½

  9. 3:18 The first position with White to play is a draw but after 1.Kg4 Kd7? loses the game after 2.d5! and Black is unable to stop White from occupying the critical square g6.

  10. This very helpful pls focus on the endgames i only love to watch your lessons not the others

  11. thanks much for this endgame video…very helpful..
    i hope you can continued endgames video series..👌👍👍👍👍🤗😗

  12. Thank You for such a detailed explanation.Great Work Bro!

  13. Thanks for the video Stephan. One point I would like to make about the rule of the square. The defending king can ONLY stop the pawn if it can follow the SHORTEST PATH to reach the P. If the shortest path is blocked, the defending king must make a detour to get around the obstacle, and that means he loses a tempo and won't be able to reach the pawn in time. Oh and at 5:50 into the video, if white plays Ke5 he wins as black must abandon his pawn.

  14. Very fascinating idea with opposition that I have seen in this series. It has really helped me understand that your king is more than just a defender of your pawn, he is a harasser of other peices/pawns and a attacker of needed territory of the important squares for pawns

  15. 24:48….lets take white turn

    Kf4,kb5
    Ke6,Kc4

    White has to leave the pawn d4..and then black captures it.

    Am I correct or not..please tell me…i am a beginner.

  16. Now good endgame is my new backup plan thank you

  17. Thankk you very much man u are helping me too much with these lessons but i have one question where can i analyse boards can i give me a site please?

  18. Nic (J Bruce Feynman Niccolo P. Bentulan) says:

    21:50 yes it's so easy to blunder! but why didn't you show it? Kf4 Kb5 Ke5 then white is in zugzwang after Kc4. The position 8/8/8/3pK3/2kP4/8/8/8 (w/b) – – 4 3 was taught in josh waitzkin's endgame series in chessmaster like if it's (white/black)'s move, then (black/white resp) wins)

  19. In low time games how r they able to play like this and calculate if its winning or drawn and when to let go of a pawn to achieve draw ???

  20. Pretty sure at 5:49 d5+ by black is losing cuz of Ke5 and white has no moves

  21. At 05:52, if black is foolish enough to play d5, I am not going to play Ke3 as white, but Ke5, which wins.

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