answer: strategy and tactics


In my column Strategy and Tactics I talked about how Japanese warriors studied strategy as well as the sword. At the end of the column I gave a chess endgame problem.

This is the answer.

If white can promote the pawn to a queen on g8 it will be a simple win. But black’s defending bishop looks powerful and unassailable on a2. Whatever white does if black keeps control of that a2-g8 diagonal the game will be a draw. Whenever white plays pawn to g8 the black bishop will capture the promoted queen on g8.

So what is the plan for white?

White can’t chase the bishop from that a2-g8 diagonal by playing Bg7 because black  can just take it. So the key square for white is h7.

Either the white bishop gets to h7 via a4 and c2 and then goes to g8 chasing away the black bishop and taking control of the a2-g8 diagonal.

Or black retreats from the diagonal and tries to protect g8 by Bh7.

White then plays Bc2 and if black takes the white bishop white promotes the pawn on g8. If black doesn’t take the bishop white captures the black bishop on h7 and promotes the pawn on g8.

That’s the principle. Here are some detailed moves.

1.Ba4 Kg6 2.Bc2+ Kh6 3.Bf5 Bb3 4.Bd7 Kg6 5.Be8+ Kf6 6.Ba4!

Black can’t capture the bishop because of g8Q.

6… Ba2 7.Bc2+ Kg5 8.Bh7 Kf6 9.Bg8 Bb1 10.Bb3 Bh7 11.Bc2!

And black can’t stop the pawn advancing to g8. White wins.

The position is interesting because it looks like a sure draw. But when white finds the right strategy it’s a clear and satisfying win.

Chess position taken from Chess Choice Challenge by Chris Ward and John Emms, Batsford 1998 | chess diagram by Winboard

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