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Keeping the King Active

In this article we will take a look at, how you can make the king a more active and useful player on the chess board. One way to illustrate this idea is to look into the endgame studies of Richard Retí published back in 1921. The studies show how the king is able to make more than one threat at a time.

First off, have a look at figure 1.

Position to illustrate The Richard Reti Study tactics
Figure 1 - White is in the move

Although white is in the move, you may think that this would be an easy win for black, since black - being two fields ahead of white - is heading south for a pawn promotion. But if white's king can threaten with a capture of black's pawn and a protection of his own pawn at the same time, then there is hope for a draw. You can review how this is done on the demo board below.

Demo board 1: It's a draw

Notice how white moves in a diagonal approaching both pawns at the same time. When the white king reaches f4, black's pawn can be stopped and it's a draw.

Next, let's take a look at a game, which was played between Frederick Yates and Frank Marshall in 1929. You notice how the exact same principles apply.

Demo board 2: It's another draw


Although you may not get into a similar situation in your own chess games, this has been a demonstration of, why the king should not be left passively on the board.

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