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Features

October 24, 2013

When paired up, pawns are powerful

In “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Frodo and Sam loom large in Middle Earth as its biggest heroes, despite their diminutive size. Much more powerful dragons, demons, elves and wizards dominate the landscape, like rooks and queens on the chessboard. But as a pair, Frodo and Sam win the day, like two advanced, connected passed pawns. With this hint in mind, please try to find black’s best move and plan.

White’s pieces ominously surround black’s king like orcs surrounding Helm’s Deep. White’s queen is poised to mate black on b7 with the support of its c6 pawn. Black’s queen, however, can temporarily hold the fort by retreating to c8, defending b7.

This allows black time to advance one of its connected, passed pawns on f3 or g3. One of these pawns will promote to a queen and turn the orcs back.

Specifically, black’s best move is to advance its f3 pawn to f2, which is a little better than advancing the g3 pawn to g2. No matter how white responds, soon black’s g3 pawn will also advance to the second rank. From there, one pawn supports the other to the promotion rank, like Sam carrying Frodo up the side of a volcano, and black gains a new queen.

For example, if white moves its rook to f1, black’s g3 pawn advances to g2. Here, the white rook is being overrun.

If in response to black’s f3 pawn moving to f2, white retreats its knight to d2, black’s g3 pawn advances to g2. Once again, white cannot prevent one of the pawns from promoting.

The lesson this week is that in the realm of chess, advanced, connected passed pawns are magical, for a pawn, like a wizard, can easily transform into a beautiful queen.

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