jeudi 20 février 2014


My last post on Removing the defender seems to have interested a lot of people.

Now we are going to have a look at another subtlety in Chess which is called Zugzwang. This topic was dealt with in the "How to play chess - Part 3" lesson from the Chess Trainer app, and I am making it available in this blog as well.

Zugzwang is not really a tactic. It is a situation where one player is put at a disdvantage because he has to make a move when he would prefer to pass and make no move. We have already met that situation in the Rook VS Lone King checkmate.

As usual, let's make it clearer with an example:

Here is the answer: Black's Bishop is pinned, so the only allowed move is to put the King on h8...

1. Kh8
The only move
1... Rxf8#
White can checkmate

So coming back to the original position, it illustrates perfectly the situation of a zugzwang:

This is another position where zugzwang plays a critical role. This position is in fact essential for the whole endgame theory:

The answer is "it depends" ! It depends of course who plays next:

1... Kc7
Black has no other move. But this move gives away the control of the d8-square to White.
2. Ke7
Controling d8, there is nothing Black can do.
2... Kc6
3. d8=Q
After which White wins easily

But the situation is completely different if it is White's turn to play:

First possibility:
1. Kd6 stalemate

Second possibility:
1. Kf6
Avoiding stalemate but...
1... Kxd7
 Black captures the pawn, draw !

So to wrap up everything we have learned about this position:

To go further, I recommend reading this blog post that gives you more examples on zugzwangs, especially in endgames.

This post ends our little overview on tactical patterns. It is very important that you learn to recognize any tactical pattern at first sight. That's why I recommend that you study a lot of tactical positions.
Time for training now ! Why not downloading Chess Trainer to try a few tactical puzzles ?

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