King and Two Pawns Versus King | Chess Endgames

King and two Pawns is almost always an easy win, but some positions require the knowledge of opposition and the rule of the square.

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

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There are two main things you have to remember about king and two pawns vs king endgames. Firstly, they are winning unless you have doubled pawns and your opponent’s king is much closer to them than yours, and can capture them both.

Secondly, one principle simplifies understanding them significantly – the rule of the common square. That rule states that if the common square of the two pawns (drawn by using the two pawns as corners) includes the queening rank, the pawns don’t need the support of the king to win. If the square does include the eight/first rank, the pawns can just move up the board and one of them will inevitably queen.

If, however, their common square does not comprise the queening rank, their king is going to have to come to their aid for them to promote. One thing has to be emphasized here – the opponent’s king cannot capture them even if your king is far away regardless of how many squares apart they are! The best it can do is wait for your king to come up the board and herd the pawns.

Doubled pawns require some finesse. You will be applying the rule of opposition, the rule of the square and the principle of critical squares to win. The difference from King and pawn vs King endings is that you are always going to be able to get the extra tempo you need to gain opposition because you can always move the front pawn to make room for the bottom one to move!

#chess

41 Comments

  1. If the pawns are one square apart on the 6th rank ( = touching the queening rank with their square ), you said they can always queen.But if the king is between the two pawns, they can't queen. What am I missing to make the concept work?

  2. Thanks so much! Hope your own chess is progressing to your satisfaction! 🙏🙏

  3. Connected pawns do not always win. Your King can march your two pawns to the end line, but if they are the only pieces you have left and they happen to be positioned on one of the side lines, your opponent's solemnly surviving King can always get it to become an inevitable stalemate.

  4. Give a detail video on corresponding squares of king pawn endgame

  5. I think it would be interesting to include some videos about related squares in pawn endgames.
    Those endgames are usually 'only move to win or draw' and quite complicated.

  6. nice video, this will improve my endgame! Thanks man

  7. Simple yet very important for converting crude endgame positions, i find it VERY helpful
    Keep up the good work!

  8. At 4:56, the queening square is on the wrong side of the pawn. Of course, you're still completely right but it could be confusing for people that have discovered the rule of the square recently. Great video otherwise, thank you!

  9. In years to come, this library of chess videos will be the go-to source for improving in chess.

    I have steadily gained ELO by watching these videos (and others).

  10. I had a little idea I had for your videos to improve usability for viewers. Put time codes in the video description so that viewers like me who want to look at specific sections of your video can find them easily. Sort of like a table of contents for the video. Like in your sidelines for the Petrov defense video you can put in time codes for the three knights section and the modern attack so I could study one without having to scrub through the video for where you begin that part of the lesson. I know this idea is something I would very much appreciate and I suspect it might be appreciated by a lot of viewers. On a more personal note I have noticed that at my skill level (~1300 chess.com) I have been trying to practice the Petrov defense as black and almost invariably my opponent will play the three knights game as white because they hate the Petrov and want to transition to the four knights where they are more comfortable. Could you possibly do a video specifically on the three knights variation of the Petrov after 3.Nc3? If not that is okay I understand. As always keep up the great work. I remember I began watching your videos when you had less than 8000 subscribers and now you are at about 17,500! I can't wait to see how far you will go and good luck on your way to becoming a grandmaster!

  11. Stjepan I am so excited to tell you that I got my first chance to use this lesson today and it went perfectly! I was black and the endgame was 3 connected white pawns vs 2 of mine separated by a square. I knew white was winning but I fought on and because of your lesson I seized my chance when my opponent blundered and played the ending perfectly! I analyzed the game afterward on chess.com and the computer said I played the opposition and pawn moves perfectly and it is all thanks to you!

  12. Another great video. You are a fantastic teacher….

  13. One guideline which can be used for the doubled pawns is to always wait as long as possible to make the reserve tempo. In other words, push the more advanced pawn forward to queen, and eventually if you get to a drawn position because you don't have the opposition, then make the reserve tempo and queen. This is not always the quickest strategy but it makes it much harder to blunder into a stalemate.

  14. Hey Hanging Pawns, it's Nick again. Since you asked for suggestions, I think I'll offer one.

    Capablanca's statement about studying the endgame first makes sense for two reasons. Firstly, it's an area where a lot of people go wrong and draw winning positions or lose drawn positions. More importantly, however, is the fact that the endgame involves the fewest number of pieces and is therefore the easiest way to understand chess intuitively.

    It's true that pawn squares help a player know whether a pawn can queen or if the opposing king can catch it. However, visualizing the square on the board to achieve this purpose does nothing to convey the underlying concept- the intuitive concept- that the square rule represents. What's crucial to understand about the square is that the number of moves it takes for the pawn to travel up the side of the square is equal to the number of moves a king needs to go from corner to corner.

    Obviously, the pawn squares rule is just one example. The broader point is that the endgame can improve your chess by understanding the concepts intuitively, not just with rules that someone else created. The endgame videos you've made are still great for winning endgame positions and so forth, but perhaps you could experiment and see if you could take it a step… deeper. Thanks for your consideration!

  15. Stephan, Best videos ever, please can you do more endgame videos and checkout my YouTube channel, it’s called Chess Time WITH CHESS

    Thanks for the amazing content

  16. This kind of analysis is how one can become a better chess player. Thanks for all your efforts.

  17. This series is really helpful. I am now in a much better level of confidence that I can handle these king-pawn endings..

  18. Great video series. I have a question about the first demo though….With the white pawns on c5 and e6, I played Kg2 Kd8, Kf3 Kf7, ke2 Kxe6, Ke4 Kd7, Kd6 Kc7, which is a drawn position for white. The only way I could win the position for white was to move my king immediately to protect the e5 pawn. Have I missed something?

  19. Do you know position with 3 white pawns and the game is draw ? The pawns are in different vertical lines

  20. What about two pawns at the edge of the board? G and H, for exemple. I manage to get a stale mate versus my oponent, but I wanted to see what are the other options

  21. At 3:09 , i think it depends on whose turn it is if it is blacks turn i think it will be a draw . Idk did i miss something??anyway thanks for the vedio loved it very much

  22. Thank you for that, but I wish you explained doubled pawns on the knight files

  23. Thanks Stephan. Even with all of the end game books I’ve read, I have never seen the “common square” mentioned. VERRY HELPFUL!

  24. Question: Common square rule with two pawns one square apart. All your examples showed white playing first. It only works if white plays first? If black moves first, black gets both pawns, correct?

  25. Your 3 years old video is the best endgame analysis i have ever found in my 5 years of chess play

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