Given this position with king and multiple pawns per side (white to move):

3k4/p4ppp/1p2p3/8/8/1P4P1/P3PPKP/8 w - - 0 26

Engines give a 0.0 evaluation. Assuming your opponent plays best moves, my understanding is that it should be reasonably easy also for humans to draw this game. But what's the technique? I know that you need to bring your king to the center, and it also involves opposition, zugzwang and preventing the opponent's king to get behind your lines. Is there a proper, formal way of doing it? I mean something like counting how many pawn moves either side has "before contact".

  • 4
    King and pawn endgames are not easy. Nov 8, 2022 at 12:40
  • 2
    I can only tell you what to avoid: since White moves first, the king lands on the 4th and Blacks only on the 6th. Do not try to outflank, you probably lose any race. Oppose. Don't move pawns b6 and e6 in a whim, they might block the white king when you lose opposition. Try to totally lock the kingside, since 4 against 4 gives the danger of the "tub of doom" formation, where a breakthrough is always possible. Do not push your pawns so silly that White has tons of tempo moves. Nov 8, 2022 at 20:30
  • 1
    @HaukeReddmann how would the "tub of doom" formation look like?
    – Hauptideal
    Nov 8, 2022 at 21:14
  • 2
    @Hauptideal: you should immediately recognize it (maybe from Caro-Kann): Ph5g4f4e5/Ph6g7f7e6. White might always play f5 (exf5 gives a free pawn on e, not taking an even worse on h after g5 and f6, and Black to move can't put a cork on it either - f6 f5 - so the black king must stay in the vicinity. If e.g. in the OP position wKa6/bKb8+tub of doom, Black is busted.) Nov 8, 2022 at 21:26
  • 1
    @HaukeReddmann ah yes, this looks familiar
    – Hauptideal
    Nov 8, 2022 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


This endgame is not easy at all and indeed Black has to be very careful. As White life is a bit easier since we have a better chance to activate our king, but there's still a game of chess to be played here. Even with few pieces on the board chess is an extremely complicated game. For example, I once maanged to win the following position (as Black, Black to move) to a 1700-rated opponent in a 90+30 game:

8/p4p2/3kp1p1/1p5p/3P4/PP2KPPP/8/8 b - - 0 40

Step 1 of our plan should be moving our king to the 4th rank and keeping it stable there. 1.Kf3 Kd7 2.Ke4 Kd6 could be a reasonable continuation.

Depending on how Black sets up, we'll probably need some pawn moves like a4 or f4 to stop the enemy pawns from kicking our king our of the 4th row. For example Black pawns on b5, e5 and f5 at the same time could be bad news In most cases we also want to avoid making unnecessary pawn moves so we can 1: avoid turning them into weaknesses and 2: have some tempi to waste in case we reach a potential zugzwang situation. Think of something like the "e" pawns getting traded, Black pawns on f5 and b5, White pawns on b4 and f4, Kings on d6 and d4, and the a, g and h pawns still alive in some square.

But it's hard to define a general "technique" or "method" to guarantee a draw. Instead, each of Black moves will generate several lines where we must calculate precisely. For example Black can try to attack our queenside with something like 1.Kf3 Kd7 2.Ke4 Kc6. Now White has to choose between a3, Ke5 or Kd4 and I don't think we can come up with a rule to help us decide other than calculate each line as deep our ability lets us (specially since in practical play we won't probably just be trying to hold a draw but also punish Black's most ambitious attempts)

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.