To my horror, Chess Tactics for Beginners
actually includes king and pawn endgames. Who do they think they are, insinuating crucial endgame knowledge into tactical software?
I am finding these KP endgames to be quite challenging. Hence, I'm using it as an opportunity to bone up on the theoreticals. In particular, the opposition. I used to think that once you have the opposition, you win. Obviously, this is false, as the following position demonstrates:
Black to move, white has the opposition, so white wins right? Obviously, since white's king is outside the square of black's pawn, the opposition doesn't matter. So when does it matter? It matters, for one, when the defender's king is inside the square of the pawn (I use 'defender' to denote the side without the pawn, 'attacker' to denote the side with the pawn).
In those cases where the defender is
in the square of the pawn, the attacker needs to get his king in front of the pawn with opposition
to win. The opposition isn't even necessarily a useful way to get
in front of the pawn. The only absolute is that you want the king in front of the pawn with opposition. Unfortunately, this means you have to do a lot of calculation, a lot of counting squares, to time it just right so that you achieve the holy grail of landing in front of your pawn with opposition. Is this right? If so, crap. I hate calculating, especially in the endgame when my brain wants to go to Hawaii. I was hoping for a simple square-of-the-pawn-style shortcut algorithm that would protect my precious brain from having to think in these simple endings. Am I right that no such algorithm exists? Also, what is the definition of being 'in front of' a pawn? Does it always mean on the same file
in front of it?
Another apparently cool factoid I learned about is the opposition when the kings are not aligned on the same diagonal, file, or rank, the so-called 'misaligned' opposition. A player in this case has the opposition if it is the opponent's move and the rectangle drawn around the kings has the same color at each corner. So, for instance, in this example whoever isn't moving has the opposition (note same color of each corner of rectangle, which will happen whenever there is an odd number of ranks and files between the kings):
This is nice and simple. So, if it is white to move, black must be very happy, as black has the opposition and is in the square of the pawn, right? Much to my dismay, wrong. White or black to move, white wins from this position. So my question is, what good is the misaligned opposition for the defender, and does anyone have an example where having the misaligned opposition actually does some good for the defender. That is, is the concept only apparently cool? (I found a similar problem with the diagonal opposition: put the black king on e6 in the above and it is still a win for white, with white to move).
Confused as usual...