Friday, December 3, 2010

The Rule of the Square

Prospect moved to 6-2 yesterday without a hard fought win over Fremd which was much closer than the 57-11 score indicated. After an hour an a half of play, each team had one win, Prospect was in trouble on two boards, and the other four boards were tense games that could have gone either way.

A vital question in any king and pawn ending is whether a king can catch a pawn before it queens. Of course it is possible to simply calculate out the moves, but the quickest way to figure it out is to apply the Rule of the Square. Take the distance from the pawn to the end of the board and draw an imaginary square extending towards the defending king. If the king can move into the square on his move, he can catch the pawn. If he cannot move into the square, he cannot catch it.

On 3rd Board, Fremd's Mihir Awati reached this position as Black with seven seconds left on his clock against Caleb Royce. The Rule of the Square would have told him that his king would have reached the White pawn before it queened, but he was unable to calculate out the moves quickly enough and he lost on time. It was a very tough loss as Mihir had played very well in time pressure for many moves to reach this position. On the other hand Caleb had also missed a chance to win using the Rule of the Square a couple moves earlier with twelve minutes left on his clock.

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