Pawn Breaks | Chess Endgames

Pawn breaks are a common endgame technique used to force a pawn advance and an eventual queening.

A pawn breakthrough is a brute-force way to open up a line for your pawn to advance. Most often it includes sacrificing the pawn you break with in order to allow your other pawns to advance.

Pawn breaks are used to “remove the barrier”. If there is an enemy pawn which, if removed, would allow you to queen, then sacrificing all your remaining pawns is justified to accomplish that.

In the endgame, pawn breaks have a different goals to those which occur earlier in the game. You are not going for a positional edge or a strong square or something else, you push through in order to win!

That makes them an extremely powerful endgame weapon. They have to be factored in at all times, even if there are pieces still remaining on the board. A successful pawn break can mean an immediate resignation.

There are two essential factors you need to consider when calculating a pawn break in the endgame:

1. Distance (or number of moves) to the queening square. If you break open your opponent’s structure and sacrifice a pawn in the process, make sure that your pawn is closer to promotion than his, or that you do not create a passed pawn for him at all.

2. King position; if your opponent’s king is far away, the break works. But, if his king is withing the square of the now passed pawn, then your break (and pawn sacrifice) is losing! Make sure that you apply the rule of the square before playing a pawn break.

If you would like to support my quest to chess improvement and receive extra content, in depth information on each daily video, as well as exercises and problems to solve, consider becoming a patron. For more information, visit:

You can also support the channel via PayPal. Any support is greatly appreciated!

Latest donations: Niall M., Thierry P., Barrett J. Thank you!

#chess

65 Comments

  1. Great video! Heard your Perpetual Chess podcast the other day. Enjoyed it!

  2. Promotion in chess is a rule that requires a pawn that reaches its eighth rank to be immediately replaced by the player's choice of a queen, knight, rook, or bishop of the same color. Stefan moves king closer to the pawn that has been promoted which is illegal. He shows the pawn being promoted the move AFTER it has reached the 8th rank.

  3. As always great job 😍😍 pls more of endgames

  4. Very helpful knowledge. Thanks very much for this simple and effective tutorial!

  5. Bro ,plz make video on rook pawn endgames ,first basics and then practical game positions,plz

  6. Can someone explain or link to a video of the "rule of the square" that he mentions at 6:20?

  7. Everyone should only benefit from this excellent video. Endgames is what will make the difference between a draw or a win if practiced accurately. Thanks for the reminder !

  8. very good. thanks much.this is i want to learn basic chess

  9. Excellent explanation. Looks like the goal is simply to create effectively a 2vs1 situation:

    a) the extra pawn will be used to deflect the final obstructing pawn (or simply to take himself and keep walking if the opponent doesn't take).

    b) The goal before that, is to calculate a situation which leads to this potential "2vs1 deflecting situation".
    The two prerequisites are:
    1. The rule of the square: the breakthrough-pawn must not be caught up by the enemy king.
    2. A counter-breakthrough (if any) must not queen simultaneously (draw!) but rather be two moves behind.

  10. I feel like you showed the wrong square at 21:00 or so but you videos are AMAZING and I thank you so much for making them. good luck in life and chess 🙂

  11. again… thanks I loved this. makes me wanna go watch magnus

  12. Absolutely clear! Best video ever on endgame! Congratulations!!

  13. Поздрав от България, you have the talent to teach!

  14. And I thought I discovered that three pawn break ……

  15. Whos here after The queens gambit?
    👇🏻

  16. great video! very well explained as usual. thanks!

  17. you, sir, are amazing! this is worth gold!

  18. This video proves that chess truly a beautiful game

  19. Tx a lot Sir. Wht an amazing video. God bless u for these free chess lessons. Very helpful

  20. You should leave engine analysis on during the video

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

    5:38 if it's black instead of white to play, then ok maybe it's not so hard to say that a pawn move wouldn't work, but it does seem pretty tough to win.

    1. the 1st move is critical: Kb4.
    2. white can respond Kb1, f5 or g5 (or another king move), but each move following any of these responses is critical!
    3. from here it appears there is a huge asymmetry between f5 and g5: for f5, you MUST TAKE. for g5, you MUST NOT TAKE (AND MUST NOT MAKE ANY PAWN MOVE) for f5, you have 4 non-losing king moves and again this is critical: exactly 1 king move is winning
    4. after making the aforementioned king move: each move following every possible pawn response of white is critical, and there's 1 white king move that makes the following move critical.

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

    pawn break in real game: again do your 5:38 thing but black instead of white to play. wow. such beautiful asymmetry. i can't believe all you said was that if it were black to play then black can't do the same thing as white. i think there's a lot to say for the black to play just as for the white to play!

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

    0:00 intro

    0:50 2 vs 1 pawn example

    2:25 3 pawn vs 3 pawn example with kings on h2 and h4 – critical move for black (exactly 1 drawing move, no winning moves) FEN: 8/ppp5/8/PPP5/7k/8/7K/8 b – – 0 1 and essentially a critical move for white (exactly 1 winning move, but…) but after Kg2 Kg(4 or 5) FEN: 8/ppp5/8/PPP5/7k/8/7K/8 w – – 0 1

    5:28 4 pawn vs 4 pawn example with kings on a1 and a3 – critical move for black (exactly 1 winning move) but not critical move for white (more than 1 winning move) FEN: 8/5pp1/4p2p/4P2P/5PP1/k7/8/K7 (w or b) – – 0 1
    9:53 4 pawn vs 4 pawn example with kings on a2 and a4 – critical move for black (exactly 1 winning move) and then drawn for white FEN: 8/5pp1/4p2p/4P2P/k4PP1/8/K7/8 (w or b) – – 0 1

    11:36 game 1 – critical move (exactly 1 winning move) FEN: 8/6p1/8/p1p1p1kP/1p1pP1P1/1P1P3K/1PP5/8 b – – 0 1

    19:50 game 2 – not critical (more than 1 winning move) FEN: 8/8/4k2p/p1K2pp1/P7/1P4PP/8/8 b – – 0 1

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

    12:55 actually white cannot ignore? engine says a5 is a blunder: you can do b3 instead of c3

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

    16:20 wait what actually black king CANNOT catch? c5 Kf6 is a blunder according to engine

  26. It was helpful. Knowing these patterns really helps when calculating, saves a lot of time to worry about other things.

  27. @Hanging Pawns
    In the second position (Timing 7:11) the desired break is g5, not f6. f6 is a blunder.

    f5 Kb3 f6?? gxf6 exf6 e5 g5 e4(not reacting to the pawn break) gxh6 e3 h7 e2 h8=Q e1=Q+

    Hence the right pawn breaks are f5 g5 (in any order).

    f5 Kb3 g5 exf5 g6 fxg6 (f4 loses to gxf7) e6 f4 e7 f3 e8=Q f2 and white's a tempo ahead. Note that white lost a tempo when he was forced to play exf6 in the previous line. The same idea exists even after f5 Kb3 g5 hxg5 f6 gxf6 h6 g4 h7 g3 h8=Q g2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.