[Title "Black to move"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "8/p2N1pk1/1pn1p1p1/2p1P2p/5P1P/2P3P1/PP6/6K1 b - - 0 1"]

I thought that I had advantage as White since I was able to temporarily cutt off Black king. I have underestimated Black's counterplay on the queenside with ...Na5, misplayed it and drew.

The more and more I analyze on my own, the more and more I start to wonder: Did I have any winning advantage at all, or was my position just "prettier" ?


You definitely had an advantage, but it's a bit of a challenge to turn that into victory. If you don't use all of your advantages and his disadvantages, it can quickly turn into a draw.

In this position, your main advantage is your Knight - it can jump very easily between very useful squares d7-f6-e4-d6. Your King can be activated very easily in the next few moves, while black King is quite passive and has limited movement due to your Knight and Pawns (both yours and his) blocking him. Moreover, your Knight can't be threatened at d7, so it's your decision when to move it (and give his King some breath).

His ...Na5 is a logical choice from his side, but you have nothing to fear, your aim is to get your King closer to the center (Kf2-Ke3) and also put Pawn on b3 (not if he pulls back with his Knight, of course) to disable any chances of his Knight getting through (preferably he plays Nc4 before you play b3, so you play that move with gaining a tempo).

However, the problem you have is that you can't go too far away with your King. Ideally you would come to the Queen side and take his Pawns, while his King watches helpessly; but you can't do that as he threatens Ne7-Nf5, which leaves your g3 Pawn at his mercy if your King isn't there to defend it. Now, you can try to exchange your g3 Pawn (Kf3 or Nf6 followed by g4), but that leaves you with weak h-Pawn which he can attack easily with his King (Kh6-Kh5) or/and his Knight (Nf5).

The best thing to try (after b3 and after your King is a bit activated on e3-d3) is to get your Knight back to e4 (Nf6-Ne4) to defend g3-Pawn so you can proceed with your King to the Queen side:

[StartFlipped "0"]
[FEN "8/p2N1pk1/1pn1p1p1/2p1P2p/5P1P/2P3P1/PP6/6K1 b - - 0 1"]

1...Na5 2. Kf2 Nc4 3. b3 Na5 4. Ke3 Nc6 5. Kd3 Ne7 6. Nf6 Nf5 (6...Nd5 7. Ne8+ Kf8 8. Nd6 Ne7 {Otherwise, you win a Pawn with Nc8} 9. a4 a6 {Black is lost otherwise, he either lets your Knight to c8 or your King inside} 10. a5 bxa5 11. Ne4 Nd5 12. Nxc5 Nc7 13. c4 Ke7 14. Nb7 {And you are a Pawn ahead}) (6...Nc6 7. Kc4 a6 8. Nd7 Ne7 9. Nxb6 Nf5 10. a4 Nxg3 11. Kxc5 f6 12. Nd7 {And now you don't have any trouble promoting on the Queen side on time}) 7. Ne4 Ne7 8. Kc4 a6  9. Nd6 Nc6 10. Nc8 Na5+ 11. Kd3 b5 12. Nb6 Nb7 13. Nd7 a5 14. a3 {Now black has no good moves} Kg8 15. a4 c4+ 16. bxc4 bxa4 17. c5 Nd8 18. Kc2 {You can pick up his a-Pawns and push c-Pawns afterwards} 1-0

But note that I didn't perhaps show the best black defense here. Although, to be honest, with his King that limited, he didn't have many options. If he tries to get his Knight to f5 before he provoked your b3, you can play a4-a5 and his defense on the Queen side is ruined. He can only perhaps try to push his Queen side Pawns and pray that he can somehow block you in time, although it's a very hard fight for him:

[StartFlipped "0"]
[FEN "8/p2N1pk1/1pn1p1p1/2p1P2p/5P1P/2P3P1/PP6/6K1 b - - 0 1"]

1...Na5 2. Kf2 Nc4 3. b3 Na5 4. Ke3 c4 5. b4 Nc6 6. Nf6 Kf8 7. Ne4 b5 8. Nd6 a6 9. Ne4 Ke7 10. Nc5 a5 11. bxa5 Nxa5 12. Ne4 Nc6 13. a3 Kd7 14. Nd6 f6 15. Nxb5 fxe5 16. fxe5 Nxe5 17. Kd4 {And now you win a Pawn and have an easy way to victory} 1-0

All in all, your advantage was a bit more substantial than just "prettier" position, at least in my opinion.

  • I have upvoted your answer for now. I have also removed "a8 trick" and properly flipped the board, you can see the edit to learn how I did it. You gave me few winning ideas so i will try them on the board and see what happens then. We shall "speak" soon... Regards! – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 1 '16 at 17:11
  • I have tried some of your ideas vs computer, but it defended successfully... I will devote little more time for analysis, as I really want to find winning line for White. If I find nothing, I see no reason why I would not officially accept your answer... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 2 '16 at 17:17

I put the position into the analysis board on Lichess and ran through what it thought was the best play by both sides. I'm not sure how good the engine is, but it came up with this as being a draw.

[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "8/p2N1pk1/1pn1p1p1/2p1P2p/5P1P/2P3P1/PP6/6K1 b - - 0 1"]

1... Ne7 2. Kf2 Nc6 3. Ke2 Ne7 4. a4 Nf5 5. Kf3 Ne7 6. a5 bxa5 7. Nxc5 Kf8 8. Ne4 Nf5 9. Nd6 Ke7 10. Nb7 a4 11. Nc5 a3 12. bxa3 Kd8 13. Ne4 Kd7 14. Ng5 Nh6 15. Ke3 Nf5+ 16. Kf2 Nh6 17. Ke3 Nf5+ 18. Kf3 Nh6 19. Ne4 Nf5 20. c4 Kc6 21. Ke2 Nh6 22. Kd3 Nf5 23. Ke2 Kd7 24. Kd2 Kc6 25. Kd3 Kd7 26. Kc3 Kc6 27. Kb3 Nd4+ 28. Kb4 Nc2+ 29. Kb3 Nd4+ 30. Kc3 Nf5 31. a4 a5 32. Kd2 Kc7 33. Ke2 Kc6 34. Kf2 Nd4 35. Ke3 Nf5+ 36. Ke2 Kb6 37. Kd3 Kc6 38. Kc3 Kc7 39. Kd3 Kc6 40. Kc3 Kc7 41. Kc2 Kd7 42. Kd2 Kc7 43. Ke2 Kd7 44. Kf2 Kc6 45. Kf3 Nd4+ 46. Ke3 Nf5+ 47. Kf3 Nd4+ 48. Kf2 Nf5 49. Ke2 Nd4+ 50. Kd2 Nf5 51. Kd3 Kd7 52. Kc2 Kc6 53. Kb2 Kd7 54. Ka3 Kc6 55. Kb3 Kd7 56. Ka3 Kc6 57. Kb3 Kd7 58. Kc2 Kc6 59. Kd3 Kd7 60. Ke2 Kc6 61. Kf2 Kb6 62. Kf3 Nd4+ 63. Kg2 Nb3 64. Kf3 Nc5 65. Ke3 Nxa4 66. Kd4 Nb2 67. Ng5 a4 68. Kc3 a3 69. Nxf7 Nxc4 70. Kb3 Kc5 71. Nh8 Kd5 72. Nxg6 Ne3 73. Kxa3 Nf5 74. Kb4 Nxg3 75. Kb5 Ne2 76. Ne7+ Ke4 77. Kc5 Kxf4 78. Nc6 Kg4 79. Nd8 Kf5 80. Kd6 Nd4 81. Nf7 Nb5+ 82. Ke7 Nc3 83. Ng5 Kxe5 84. Nxe6 Kf5 85. Ng7+ Kg4 86. Nxh5 Kxh5 87. Kd6 Kxh4

Around move 60, I was starting to think it would be a draw by the 50 move rule, or maybe repetition, but it ended up being insufficient material.

  • 1
    Thank you, +1 for the effort. I am still analyzing this endgame on my own since I have no engine... I haven't forgotten about this question, I just work really hard to analyse all the possibilities. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 11 '16 at 14:54
  • 1
    lichess analysis board seems to only look ahead 18 plies (hover over the thinking bar), which is much worse than what stockfish does by default if you use it on your own box. – hkBst Jun 12 '16 at 13:03
  • Also your analysis seems to suggest an advantage for black: it is a knight ahead after move 87. – hkBst Jun 12 '16 at 13:05
  • A knight against a pawn, and about to capture the pawn next move. Still definitely drawing. And White only sacs the knight to prevent the black king from capturing the pawn, and then escorting the black pawn to promotion. – Jivan Scarano Jun 18 '16 at 4:39

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