Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hello Patzer, We Are Corresponding Squares!

Would be a great help in pawn endgames. But unfortunately, squares do not talk to us. Yesterday I had a sudden feeling that I have no proper knowledge about corresponding squares.

This is the state of my ignorance: Two kings struggle to get to a so-called key square. If the attacker gets it, he will win. If the defender gets it, he will draw. The means of this fight is opposition, a special kind of zugzwang. The geometric opposition is a special case of corresponding squares, if there is only a single pawn around. If there is a pawn landscape, the simple geometry is somewhat distorted, because certain squares are blocked to the kings. Therefore the corresponding squares cannot be recognized by simple means like in short, distant or diagonal oppositions. I have to find out in every case, asking a square: Hello, are you a corresponding square, and where is your counterpart? Not so easy!

I asked Google for help. And I found it at an unexpected place: Wikipedia. Wikipedia, it seems, is one of the best chess books, at least as far as pawn endgames are concerned. The authors reference to one of the leading experts, Karsten Müller. All very compact, math style. Clear rules. Exceptions. Excellent for brushing up knowledge, but maybe also for learning from scratch.

The most important concept I learnt yesterday was that you cannot figure out corresponding squares without knowing the key squares. These are the goal, and the corresponding squares are the way to the goal.

The second most important concept: There are key squares for attack and key squares for defense, and these are not the same!

In principle, I have got this stuff. But I know quite well that real understanding is a long-distance journey. It must lead from single pawns to simple pawn landscapes with very few blocked squares to complex landscapes with secret king pathways through the jungle. I want to become a jungle fighter. Wish me luck!

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