top of page

King and Pawn vs King

Hello everyone and welcome. My name is Patrick McCartney and I am starting up a bi-weekly column covering endgames.

Each article will cover a specific endgame theme. The analysis will be in a format where you can click and proceed through the lines. There will then be a few problems at the end with the solutions mentioned at the bottom below the last problem, so don't scroll all the way to the bottom until you've done the problems.

The first article will be on the most basic of all endgames. King and pawn vs king. If you don't understand which positions are won for the player with the pawn and which are drawn, you cannot understand other endgames because often times, whether a line wins or not often depends on the resulting trade down to a king and pawn vs king position.

With that said, let's dig into the content.


Concepts in King and Pawn Versus King Endings

We will be talking about a number of concepts in king and pawn versus king situations. They include:

A) The concept of being "in the box"

B) Pawn in front of the king

C) King in front of the pawn

D) The winning zone

A) The Concept of Being "In the Box"

An Exception to the Rule

B) Pawn in Front of the King

C) King in Front of the Pawn

When the king is in front of the pawn, things get to be more complicated. Who is to move matters more, and there are additional exceptions in this case.

The Draw Scenario

The Win Scenario

D) The Winning Zone

Winning Zone Exception #1 - Pawn on the 5th Rank

Winning Zone Exception #2 - The Dreaded Rook Pawn


At the end of each article will be a few problems for you to figure out. The diagrams will just be positions that aren't clickable like the analysis section is so that the answer is not exposed next to the diagram. Instead, all answers will appear after the final problem. It is suggested that you don't spend more than 15 minutes on any one problem. If you haven't figured out the answer in 15 minutes, move on to the next problem, and once you've attempted all of them, check the answers section for the solution to the ones you couldn't figure out.

For this article, there will be five problems.

Problem 1 - This one looks similar to what we talked about earlier, but be careful. Knight pawns can be tricky. White to move and win.

Problem 2 - White has just captured Black's last pawn and figures it's time to celebrate as he can keep the black king away from the white pawn. How did Black make it rain on White's parade? Black to move and draw.

Problem 3 - These last three problems will feature an extra pawn on the board, but use your learned knowledge of king and one pawn versus king to solve them. Here, it looks like BLack snuck his way in the corner and progress cannot be achieved. However, White has a sneaky trick to convert this to a win. White to move and win.

Problem 4 - This position looks bleak for Black. His pawn is about to be caught and the king will already be in the winning zone. How can Black prevent this and survive? Black to move and draw.

Problem 5 - Black's position looks bad. The white king is all over the pawn. However, Black has a way out Using the knowledge learned, come up with a drawing plan for Black. Black to move and draw.


Problem 1 - 1.Kh6 (1.Kf6?! Kh7 2.g6+ Kh8 3.Kf7 is stalemate - White would have to play 2.Kf7 Kh8 3.Kg6 Kg8 and start over again with 4.Kh6) Kh8 2.g6 Kg8 3.g7 Kf7 4.Kh7 wins for White.

Problem 2 - After 1...Kc7! 2.Ka8 Kc8, White can either toggle the kings with no progress, or after 3.a7 Kc7, it is the white king that is stalemated.

Problem 3 - 1.Kg5 (Not 1.Kh6 Stalemate) Kg7 2.h8=Q+ Kxh8 3.Kf6 (or 3.Kh6 works too) Kg8 4.g7 Kh7 5.Kf7 and White will promote and win.

Problem 4 - 1...a3 2.bxa3 (White has no choice but to take the pawn as otherwise 2...a2 wins for Black) Kd7 3.Kb6 Kc8 4.Ka7 Kc7 and Black will toggle between c7 and c8 until White moves the king out of the way of the a-pawn, in which case Black can get into the corner and draw the game as White's pawn is a rook pawn, which was discussed in exception 2.

Problem 5 - 1...b5! is the only move that works. After 1...Kc7? 2.b5 Kc8 3.b6, the king is driven away from the pawn and White wins. If instead of 1...Kc7, Black can achieve opposition and a draw after 1...b5 2.Kb6 Kb8 3.Kxb5 Kb7.


Recent Posts

See All

Bishop and Pawn vs Lone King

As we continue the four-piece minor piece endings, we come to see that there aren't very many that require attention because a minor piece and a king cannot win by themselves, unlike a rook or queen a

1 Comment

Thanks for this article Patrick, very informative

bottom of page