Will you be able to occupy one of the key squares and win the endgame? Find out how...

Look at the following position.

How are you going to calculate whether white can win or not? Are you going to calculate variations? Do you have to count all the moves until the end?

If you haven't heard about the key squares, it may take a while before you find the solution.

So let me tell you about the key squares and you'll always find the right way of play in these positions.

The most important thing to know about key squares is this:

If your king can occupy one of the key squares, this will secure the victory, no matter where your opponent's king is.

Now where are those key squares in your pawn ending?

The squares with an X are key squares. A pawn on its own half of the board has three key squares.

And as soon as the pawn is on the other half of the board, there are some more key squares.

Do you notice the differences?

The key squares are always relative to your pawns position.

Now, let's look at the first position again.

If you"ve mastered the theory about the key squares, you'll be able to solve this position quickly.

First, determine where the key squares are. The pawn is on the other half of the board, so:

White has the move, can he win? You know now,white will win if he reaches a key square. Can he achieve this?

Actually it's very easy for white. 1.Kb6, and after 1....Kc8; 2.Kc6, Kd8; he already achieves the goal by 3. Kd6.

And now white has a winning position. Black can't defend the queening square 3...Ke8; 4.Ke6, Kf8; 5.Kd7, and the white pawn will promote.

The rook's pawn is a totally different story. It has only two key squares, and reaching them with a king does secure a win (as long as the pawn is safe).

Here are the key squares. They don't change with the marching of the pawn.

Now it's easy again.

Take a look at the following diagram.

Now answer the following question. If white is to play, will he win?

You know how to solve this now.

You only have to answer one question.

Is white able to reach a key square?

And after 1.Kc4, Ke6; 2.Kc5, Kd7;3. Kb6, Kc8; (or any other try)

You'll notice the King is unable to reach any of the key squares, so black can secure a draw.

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