Why is it important to leave the opponent's pawn in this situation?

From over 7kk games only 426 ends with KNN against KP, of which 286 games (67.1%) is draw.

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In the two knights endgame, how should we block the pawn to force checkmate? In @SmallChess's answer, GM Samuel seem have made many mistakes...


1 Answer 1


Endgame where two knights against a lone king is a draw, you can't force a checkmate. However, with a pawn the side with the two knights can setup a mating net without running into stalemate. That's why it's always important to leave a pawn.

Just a few days ago, Karjakin demonstrated the technique against a very strong US grandmaster. Please note in the final position, it's a stalemate without the black pawn. Please go through the game, note how Karjakin never attempted to win the final pawn.

White is threatening Nh6, Nf7#. Again, this setup is impossible without the black pawn.


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  • Yes, I mean this game. I didn't know that it was important to leave a pawn. Thanks for answer. Oct 27, 2018 at 13:19
  • Maybe you have any info about this? Oct 27, 2018 at 13:20
  • @Dillingerèmorto What else are you interested to know?
    – SmallChess
    Oct 27, 2018 at 13:21
  • Emmm, about blocking a pawn. Need to block before pawn crossed the center line? In this game Samuel's do many mistakes... Oct 27, 2018 at 13:26
  • @Dillingerèmorto I'm not an endgame analysis expert. Someone else here might answer you better. Please wait a few more hours.
    – SmallChess
    Oct 27, 2018 at 13:27

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