Friday, December 05, 2008

Now thats Fine!

From Fine's book basic chess endings (hattip to Ed):

When you are two pawns ahead, the win is routine. The straightforward advance of the pawns will net considerable material gain, usually a piece. With a piece to the good you can then capture more pawns, then more pieces, and finally mate. The theory of ending proper is concerned to a large extent with the conversion of an advantage of one pawn into a win. The basic principle is that one pawn wins only because it can be used to capture more material. Straightforward advance will as a rule not do the trick (as with two pawns). The chief devices to be used in the winning process are forcing an entry with the king, keeping the opponent busy on both sides (outside passed pawn) and simplification.

Now that's an eye-opener! If it was written on page 3 in stead of page 572 I wouldn't have hesitated to call Fine an excellent endgame teacher! But nevertheless!!

It invites to go even one step further and to integrate the idea's of Capablanca. Capablanca writes about one holds two. Where one pawn prevents two hostile pawns from advancing. For instance a pawn that blocks a double pawn. Allthough both sides have an equal amount of pawns, you are then effectively a pawn up at the other side of the board.

diagram 1

White to move.
Even with equal material white is effectivily a pawn up. At the left side one pawn of white holds two pawns of black. At the right side white can convert his virtual pawn up into a passer. White wins easily.

1 comment:

  1. I feel I need to say a few things about Fine's Basic Chess Endings. It is one of my favorite books (a small hardcover copy of the original edition is always close at hand when I'm, analyzing at home), but there are a few problems.

    I assume you bought the second edition, revised by Pal Benko? If you google for reviews of it, they'll tell you of most of the problems. Especially the section on Queen and Pawn endings is very bad: not really revised at all, and so representing the state of 1941 theory--and Q+P vs Q is the single area where endgame theory has changed the most since then.

    It's also not really an instructional book, although you can learn a lot from it. I always found the section on Bishop vs Knight endings with many pawns particularly inspiring.

    Don't get me wrong--I love the book; the UNrevised BCE is the first reference book I turn to when looking at an endgame, and in almost every class of endgames, Fine covers more types of positions than more modern books like Fundamental Chess Endings. But I usually check FCE or Dvoretsky after looking at Fine to make sure that I'm not looking at one of the things Fine got wrong.