Topic 20 (Most Important) – How to Use Your Pawns!


This will be the most important Topic thus far.  More important than blocking, more important than Openings, Endgames, Combinations, Tactical Tricks, or even Inmove Captures! This Topic rivals the Bible in its importance and value to humanity (read into that what you will). Yes, the most important skill in Kung Fu Chess is correctly using your pawns.  It is a skill which I have not yet mastered, but which I use to vanquish many an inferior foe.



This is a perfect example to start with.  A player who has read my Topic on knight positioning might play his knight to d4:



This is a good move.  It positions the knight to attack two of black’s pawns.  But it’s not white’s best play.  White’s best play is to use his pawns in a complex attack to achieve an immediate win.



This is white’s best play.  His plan is to sacrifice his rook and then use his pawns to force black to capitulate.



Black is clearly facing a lot of pressure here.  His pawns on a6 and b5 are under attack and he needs to deal with the rook as well.  It actually doesn’t matter what he does.  White’s attack is too strong to repel.  We’ll examine all the possibilities so I can show you how white can use his pawns to crush black.


It looks like black has two choices for recapturing the rook—using his own rook or using the pawn—but he actually doesn’t.  He cannot recapture using his rook:



While the rook is in motion, white can play a combination with his pawns to win black’s rook!


It’s worth pointing out here that white’s knight is blocking black’s rook on c8 from countering this combination.  I’ll not say any more on this subject, since I’ve just written a Topic covering it.




So black must recapture with the pawn:



Once black has captured the rook with his pawn, it is obvious that there is no possible defense for black.  White is threatening multiple combination attacks:




It is impossible for black to defend against both attacks at once.  He can defend against the first attack by playing his rooks to a8 and b8 but that leaves him vulnerable to the second attack.  Black’s best option is to capture white’s a pawn, but that is still no good:



White still has both combination threats.  This capture only slows him down a little bit, as he must use his king to recapture the pawn first.


The key to all of this is white’s correct use of his pawns.  White uses his a pawn on the side of the board to attack black’s b pawn and to bring his other pawns into the attack.  Black lost this game the moment he played his knight to d5. 


That was a most illuminating example if I do say so myself.  Now we’ll look at another example!




Here’s a very instructive endgame scenario.  Black looks like he has things under control but with proper pawn play, white wins here easily.


The first thing to note is that black cannot capture white’s d pawn.



If he makes this capture, white wins by advancing both of his pawns.  The bishop cannot stop both of them from promoting by itself.


The bishop can only capture one of the two queens!



Black is also restricted in where he can move the bishop.  If he moves his bishop anywhere but toward the h pawn, he loses.


Any of these moves allow white to promote his pawn by advancing it immediately.



So what if black tries to bring his king over to the corner to capture the h pawn?



Black’s next moves will be to move his king to g7 and his bishop to e7.  However, black cannot yet move his bishop, so white can play d6 with no worries:


The bishop cannot move to e7 to stop this pawn move because that would let white promote his h pawn.



Now black is stuck.  If he continues moving his king to attack the h pawn, white can advance his pawns and force one through:



Black will have to sacrifice his bishop here, but white will still promote one pawn. 


At this point white needs only to bring his king up to support the pawns and force one through:



So black cannot do anything to attack white’s pawns.  But if black doesn’t screw up, how does white force a win?



The first step is to bring the king forward to threaten the bishop.  Black will play his king to e7 to defend it.



Next white moves his king to g6.  His plan is to promote the h pawn and immediately play his king to h7 to defend his new queen:



This play would force black to sacrifice his bishop, so black is forced to play his bishop into the corner to block the pawn from advancing.  White wins now by playing his king all the way around to the far side of the board.




Black will play his king to d6 while white is coming across, but remember that black cannot capture the d pawn or white will win.  The black bishop is stuck in the corner.  If it leaves (beyond one square away) white can promote his h pawn.


And finally white wins by playing e7.



Black is forced to capture it, and white can advance his other pawn all the way.




Game over!


Topic 19 Official Strategy Puzzle Solution!


Here is the solution to the Topic 19 Strategy Puzzle.


Devilant’s Strategy Guide: Topic 20 Official Strategy Puzzle!


Black to win. (Astute readers (or readers who read this sentence!) will recognize this position from Topic 19.)