In the middle game the king is usually a weak piece that we try to hide in a save place. But when most of the pieces came of the board, suddenly the monarch springs to life.
The king can be a very dangerous attacker. The golden endgame rule is ‘king first’.
See the first diagram (I). This is of course a very simple endgame, we should all know how to win.
A terrible mistake would be to move the pawn first. In that case the black king simply stands in front of the pawn and white can’t make any progress. The correct way of course is to first move the king up the board and to get hold of the important squares in front of the pawn.
Of course this is a very simple situation. The chances that we get this endgame on the board are very slim. But these simple examples are the building blocks for more complicated situations.
See the second diagram (II). It is a win for white. But he should be very careful. There is only one winning move.
The whole idea is that the white king gets hold of the key squares in front of the pawn. The key squares in this situation are: c5, d5 and e5. So what’s the winning move? Solution…
This was all very simple and every club player should know the drill. But the next example gets a bit more complicated. See the third diagram (III) from the game A. Lesiege-Z. Kozul (Toronto 1990). Here we have a situation where black is a piece up against three white pawns.
Needles to say that only white has winning potential. So getting rid of the pawns or blocking them will secure a draw for black.
Is that possible? Not in this case. What should white do in order to win the game? Again: follow the king first rule! Moving the pawns would be (again) a big mistake. See how the game game to a successful conclusion for white…
Finally we come to our last and most complicated example. It’s another example of the king first rule. Or should I say ‘the kings first rule in disguise’?
This is the position after 39. Qxf6 in the game Aronian-Caruana (Norway Chess, round 5). Was it a cunning trap? Or did Caruana cheat himself out of half a point? Probably we will never know. Anyhow Caruana thought he would win a pawn with 39. – Qxg3+. What’s wrong with this idea? You will find the answer here…
I found the examples I, II and III in ‘Mastering endgame strategy’ by Johan Hellsten.