In most of the cases in an endgame main task for a chess plater is to promote one of his pawns. That’s why pawns are more valuable than in the other stage of the game. Therefore role of pawns will e considered in this article.
Following factors of pawns should be take in to account when evaluating an ending
- Number of pawns remaining on the board
- Pawn weaknesses
- Possibility to create passed pawns
Lets discuss above factors in details.
01. Number of pawns remaining on the board
This is quite simple to understand. When the number of pawns on the pawns are decreases the chances are higher for the weaker side to draw.
In most minor piece ending a piece can be sacrificed for the last enemy pawn. Which result a theoretically drawn ending. In the position bellow position white sacrifices the knight and rescues the game.
There are some exceptions such as the two bishops vs. knight endgame which is regarded as being hopeless for the knight side, three minor pieces vs. two and so on.
02. Pawn Weaknesses
As an example lets consider the weak isolated pawn in the center. Isolated pawn occur in both endgame as well as in middlegame. In an middlegame isolated pawn can be compensated by active piece play. However in the endgame the weakness of the isolated pawn is more tangible.
Following changes does present to evaluate when transition from middlegame to endgame occur with the position include isolated pawn.
01. Loose the importance of the outpost on central squares
02. The squares around the isolated pawn get weaker
03. The significance of the blockade square increased dramatically
This square becomes the key point in the struggle against the single pawn. The invasion of the opponent’s camp, centralization of the king and piece transfer to the opposite flank.
Often the evaluation of the position depends on the correlation of the remaining pieces as well. For example it is very natural for the side playing against the isolated pawn to strive for he constellation good knight vs. bad bishop or good bishop vs. bad bishop.
03. Possibility to Create a Passed Pawn
The possibility to create a passed pawn depends first of all on the concrete pawn structure on the board. For instance, the pawns of both sides can be situated on the same flank, on opposite flanks or on both flanks.
If neither side has pawn superiority on a flank it is difficult to create a passed pawn. Therefore such positions can usually be assessed as equal.
In the middle diagram both sides already have created passed pawns on opposite flanks, so the main task here is just to ensure their fast advance.
It is very important to take into account whether the pawn structure is symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Symmetrical pawn structure
In a symmetrical pawn structure the pawns of both sides are standing on same files. If at least one pawn doesn’t have a counterpart on its file, then the structure is called asymmetrical. In a position featuring a symmetrical structure, there are ewer chances to create a passed pawn. So if the defending side doesn’t have noticeable weaknesses while the attacker is incapable of cretin them. Then the game usually ends up in a draw.
Asymmetrical pawn structure
With an asymmetrical pawn structure it is easier to create a passed pawn. Therefore this situation offers the stronger side has better chances or the victory.
Creation of second passed pawn
Availability of a passed pawn does not always guarantee victory for the stronger side (eg: opposite colour bishop endgame). In order to realize the advantage, it may be necessary for the attacker to create another passed pawn. It will e perfect when two passed pawns stands wither on opposite flank (greater the distance of two pawns are better) or on a file adjacent to the first passed pawn (which become connected passed pawn)
The creation of the second passed pawn sometimes even makes material sacrifices worth while. Here are some examples.
White sacrifice three pawns for the purpose of creating another passed pawn (1. g4! hxg4 2. h5! gxh5 3. a8(Q)! Bxa8 4 Kxf5). Now white wins back one pawn, creates a passed pawn on the f file and wins easily.
Here are another two examples. Now you will see the sacrifice of the attacker’s bishop for he enemy pawn which blockades the potential passed pawn.
Both diagram shows typical sacrifices for the creation of a passed pawn. In the first position after 1….hxg5 2. hxg5 followed bby f2-f4, the white king meets no obstacles on his way to the queenside and wins the black ishop in return for the a pawn. In the second position, the bishop moves to controlled square without any fear of being captured because after 2.axb4 the answer is 2…a3 and there’s no way to stop the pawn pair.
More details on the role of pawns in an ending will e revealed in following examples.
Role of pawns example 01:
Role of pawns example 02:
Role of pawns example 03: