Endgame Techniques: Zugzwang. Part 7

In the seventh part of our series on zugwang, I am going to analyze examples from two world champions as well as from the most famous trainer in recent years, Russian Mark Dvorestky.


Zugzwang 14
Black to play

José Raúl Capablanca was the world champion between 1921 and 1927. He was the third world champion in history and was famed for positional play. The Cuban was also a superb endgame specialist. This example, shows how Aron Nimzowitsch attained legendary status in New York in 1927.

1…Rc1! White is in zugzwang. Any move worsens his position. The author of “My System” played 2. Re3 , but let’s take a look at the alternatives:

3.Qg2 Rg1;

3.Kh3 Rc2! 4.Qxc2 Qxf3 5.Kh4 Qg4 mate;

3.h3 Rg1 4.Kh4 Rg4 mate;

3.Qe2 Qg1 4.Qg2 Qxd4;

3.Rd3 Rc3 4.Qe3 Qf1 5.Rxc3 bxc3 6.Qxc3 h4! 7.Kxh4 Qxf4 8. Kh3 Qg4 mate.

The game continued with 2…Rf1 3.Qe2 Qg1 0-1

I learned a lot about Endgame Techniques by using “Essential Chess Tactics Easily Explained – IM Andrew Martin” and I recommend it if you want to learn more about the topic.


Zugzwang 15
White to play

One of the most famous examples of zugzwang comes from the fourth World Chess Champion, the Russian, nationalized French, Alexander Alekhine. In San Remo in 1930, he gave one of the most impressive performances in history, obtaining 14 of a possible 15 points, ceding only 2 draws and overtaking Aron Nimzowitsch by 3 1/2 points. It left the one-and-only Nimzowitsch completely paralyzed at the height of the middlegame.

1.Qc1 Alekhine trebled on the c-file forcing Black to react. 1…Rbc8

2.Ba4  threatening the fatal b5 2…b5

3.Bxb5 Ke8 

4.Ba4 Kd8 

5.h4! 1-0 Nimzowitsch yields after being stuck in a fantastic zugzwang with almost all of the pieces on the board. If 5…h5 6.Kh2 g6 7.g3. Now any move results in the loss of material, for example, 7…Qe8 8.b5.


Zugzwang 16
Black to play

This position emerged in the USSR Championship in 1974. The way that Black attacks is very instructive. 1…Ne5

2.Rxe4 Rxe4 

3.Qxe4 Qxh4 

4.Bf3 Rf8 

5.Bh1 If 5. Qxh4? Nf3! 5…Ng4

6.Qg2 Dvoretsky defines the game with a fine move that suffocates his opponent: 6…Rf3! The rook cannot be captured due to the mate on h2.

White played 7.c4 and then gave up after 7…Kh6 0-1. Once the pawn moves have finished, his position will collapse.

“Pawn Endgames” – GM Jesse Kraai, IM David Vigorito, IM John-Paul Wallace
“Fighting in the Endgame” – FM Alisa Melekhina
Endgame Tips for Beginners


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