The Knight

Among the masters Capablanca early in his career became noted for his maneuvers with this piece. Among the composers the end-game studies of Henri Rinck stand out. The former represents the best technique of the fighting tournament expert, who evolves his combinations over the board. The latter charms by the daring of his imagination, and the artistry of his execution.

First let us consider several actual games. These constitute the most practical study of this theme. They emphasize that in certain positions the Knight's moves hold great resources. On the other hand, artificial endings may lead us to overvalue the Knight in actual play. At Bad Kissingen in 1928 Capablanca was opposed by the Dutch expert, Max Euwe, then in his middle twenties. Capablanca played the opening carefully holding the draw in hand, as is his custom with the black pieces. The result—early exchanges in which Euwe joined, seeming content with the ending that was produced.

black (capablanca)

black (capablanca)

white (euwe) After 16. K—K 167

White continued:

Now we have an apparently innocuous end-game after only seventeen moves. But Black has the Bishop, by modern theory presumed to be superior to the Knight. Mr. Kashdan believes the Bishop is superior to the Knight in all end-game positions. Some observers exclude situations where most of the Pawns are on the board in unbroken lines, such as we have here. The further exception must also be noted where numerous pieces are on the board, and considerable mid-game play remains.

At any rate the game continued:

Aggressive play, probably foreseen by Black throughout the early exchanges.

The hemming in of the Bishop by P—K 4 and P—K 5 must not be permitted.

But it cannot be prevented, so Black makes the best of it.

BLACK (CAPABLANCA)

BLACK (CAPABLANCA)

As hectic an end-game as was ever witnessed in Master Play.

Anything might happen now. Not often does Capablanca expose himself to such critical turns.

black (capablanca)

black (capablanca)

white (ewe) After 30 .., K x P

31 Kt—Q 8—White knows he is in a desperate situation.

KtxR P would offer only slight hope against Black's advance of the K R P.

Black boldly gives up the Bishop, for the third Pawn. It looks like the simplest road to victory, but—

K-R6

43 Kt—K 5—Drawn. Thus Euwe with a lone Knight, drew against three Pawns, in a battle with the greatest exponent of Knight-play of modern times.

In their match in 1931, Capablanca early gave up his Rook for Knight and Pawn. The game that ensued is worthy of the closest study. Expert opinion would probably hold that the Rook should win, yet the power of the Knight in skilful hands is strikingly exemplified. The game must have afforded the Cuban master no little satisfaction in view of the preceding ending.

black (capablanca)

black (capablanca)

white (euwe)

white (euwe)

Off-hand most experts would state that the single Pawn Black wins is not sufficient to save the game. However, the game proceeded.

19 PxP

Here White misses his first winning opportunity.

black (capablanca)

black (capablanca)

white (euwe)

After 18 .QxQ Kt P

white (euwe)

After 18 .QxQ Kt P

23 QxQ

black (capablanca)

black (capablanca)

WHITE (EUWE)

After 33. RxQ

WHITE (EUWE)

After 33. RxQ

Here once more an ending is reached, which would seem to be won for White. Capablanca shows his skill with the Knight, but it should hardly have sufficed to draw.

The resources of the Knight are many in the hands of the Cuban.

36 KxP KtxBP, ch.

42 PxP KxP

Now to turn to the end-game composers, and to note a few studies which reveal the power of the Knight.

By Henri Rinck black

The important point is to note how every possible flight square of the Queen is covered by the checks of the Knight, in combination with the Rook.

By Henri Rinck black

By Henri Rinck black

white

White to play and win.

174 MODERN CHESS ENDINGS

In conjunction with the Bishop the Knight performs wonders:

By Henri Rinck black black

white

White to play and win.

Pawn;

K—K5 K—B 6 K—B 5 K—Kt 5 K—B 6 K x Kt K moves.

By Henri Rinck black

white

White to play and win.

By Henri Rinck black

By Henri Rinck black

2 B—K 8, ch. K—R 4 otherwise the Kt checks and stops the Rook Pawn.

5 Kt—Kt 21 P—R 4 the mate by Kt—R 4, ch. cannot be stopped otherwise

7 P—Kt 5 mate—one of the finest of Rinck's endings!

In the next study the first move is clearly indicated, but the quiet second move is typical of the composer.

By Henri Rinck black

By Henri Rinck black

white

White to play and win.

white

White to play and win.

2 B—Kt 3—a simple, quiet move in the best manner of the composer. The Black queen is given the whole board but is trapped everywhere.

3 P—Kt 4, ch., etc., and wins. Another fine study of a slightly different order.

By Henri Rinck black

By Henri Rinck black

white

White to play and win.

3 BxP

4 BxP

By Leonid Kubbel black

By Leonid Kubbel black

One more example from Kubbel.

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White to play and win.

white

White to play and win.

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