Endgame Techniques: Zugzwang. Part 8

I would like to finish this series of episodes on zugzwang with a beautiful study and a classic game.

Zugzwang 18
White to play

This position was devised by Réti in 1925. In spite of his two additional pawns, Blacks king is in a very delicate situation.

White starts capitalizing on this strategic error with 1.g3! with the idea of 2.Rh4 gxh4 3.g4 mate. 1…Rg8 This is the only way to stop White’s plan.

2.Rb4! Now the intention of attacking the king via b1-h1 is begun. 2…g4 in order to liberate g5 for the rook.

3.Rb1 Rg5 

4.Kxf6 Rg6 

5.Kf7 d2 

6.a4! An elegant zugzwang. 6…d1(Q)

7.Rxd1 Rf6 

8.Kg7 If 8.Kxf6, it would be a stalemate. 8…Rf5 Against 8…Rg6, is the decisive 9.Kh7

9.Rb1 Kg5 

10.Rb6! If 10. Rb5 h5!, it is a tie. Now, it is not possible 10…h5 11.Rg6 mate 10…Ra5

11.Rb5 1-0 After the rook exchange, the black king cannot enter the square.

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 17
Black to play


This memorable game, known as “The Immortal Zugzwang Game,” was played in Copenhagen in 1923. After a few unfortunate moves, White ends up in a very passive position. The only threat seems to be playing e4 in order to attack the defenseless knight on the square h5.

Nevertheless Nimzowitch played 1… Bd6! ignoring the advancing pawn and activating his dark-squared bishop with the goal of a future attack on the opponent’s monarch.

2.e4 fxe4! This was what Black had predicted, sacrificing the knight to activate their rook and weaken the pawn on g3.

3. Qxh5 Rxf2 Despite having an additional piece, White is clearly inferior due to the passiveness of his pieces.

4.Qg5 Raf8

5.Kh1 T8f5

6.Qe3 Bd3 With the idea of 7…Re2

7.Rce1 h6!! 0-1 With this exquisite move the game ends, since White is fully in zugzwang in the middlegame and with almost all of the pieces on the board. If 8.g4 R5f3 9.Bxf3 Rh2 mate. Against 8.a3 a5 9.axb4 axb4 10.b3 Kh8.

“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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