Power of a Single Pawn


Endgames have been a fascinating area of study for a long time now. Today we deliberate on one of the most basic situations as far as the use of pawns in endgames is concerned. Take a look at the following scenario:

As we can see, White here has an advantage in terms of the number of pawns. Let us see how it goes if it is white’s turn to move.


The most obvious option that may come to the mind of most of you is the pawn to c5. How does that work? Black has only one pawn. White has blocked that pawn with a pawn to b5. If white moves his/her pawn to c5 and black refuses to capture, white can simply capture.  Then nothing is going to stop that pawn from getting a promotion to a queen. If black captures, then both black and white will be eyeing a promotion.


What is the best move for black here? Obviously, it is to capture the pawn at c5. Now, who has a better chance at promotion? White needs to move its pawn three squares in order to get a queen. Black needs four squares to do so. Moreover, it is white’s turn to move first. They will reduce the three square gap into two squares. This means that white will get its queen two steps before black can promote its pawn to queen. Clearly, white is the one who is going to win in this position.


This is the most basic pawn break one needs to know in order to make the right decisions. Can you, as the readers of the article, see how things would change if it was Black’s turn to move?

International women Grandmaster and National Master. Bronze medals in Ukraine championships - U20 and rapid among women. Current national Ukrainian rating is 2283.

Master's degree in English language, of University, foreign languages faculty. I speak Ukrainian, Russian, English, Spanish and Catalan languages.

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