Throughout the 2016 World Championship match, analysts have made many references to the term "fortress". What does it mean, and how can I use it to my advantage?

  • 7
    The Wikipedia article is very comprehensive. Did you read it? Nov 25, 2016 at 20:21

2 Answers 2


A fortress in chess is a position in where the weaker side defends by making waiting moves, and where the stronger side cannot make any progress as long as the defender does not make a crazy move. A very well-known fortress position is the following:

[fen "6k1/6p1/5r1p/8/Q7/8/7P/6K1 w - - 0 1"]

It is impossible for white to make any progress if black just moves his king around in the corner, since the black rook denies the white king any possibility to infiltrate as long as it stands on f6. Since the rook is guarded by the g7 pawn, and the g7 pawn is in turn guarded by the black king, the only way to make progress would be to force the black king out of the corner. However, this is not possible.

The way you use it to your advantage in your own games is as always: understand the concept, and recognize when a fortress is possible in your own games.


It's a position with a big material disadvantage that still can be held.


White: Kg1 Pg2 Black: Kd2 Pg3 + Bishop anywhere

You are piece down but the opponent still can't win. Your position is a fortress.

  • 2
    Not necessarily a material disadvantage. In Carlsen-Karjakin 10, material was even but White had a large positional advantage (space, Black weaknesses) was trying to break through vs. an attempted Black fortress. Nov 26, 2016 at 1:37
  • I agree with that, draw by making waiting moves in any worse endgame position is better definition.
    – hoacin
    Nov 26, 2016 at 8:44
  • 1
    Also, your definition would include draws forced by perpetual, which is not a fortress. Nov 26, 2016 at 9:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.