Choose Your Promotion

The word QUEEN has two definitions in chess. Let’s look at both.

QUEEN (def. 1) (+S) [n. A piece combining the moves of the rook and bishop, making the strongest piece at the beginning of the game.]

QUEEN (def. 2) (+ED, +ING, +S) [v. To promote a pawn to a queen]


OK, fine.


But what if someone wanted to promote to a Bishop, Rook, or Knight? You can’t Bishop a pawn. And Rooking a pawn doesn’t make sense either.


Now, it is possible you could Knight a Pawn, but only if the man’s name is Mr. Pawn and he does something really very good for the British Empire. But since we are only talking about chess, this doesn’t make sense after all.


Interesting is the fact is that you can King a piece in checkers (or “draughts.”). But you can’t Queen a piece in checkers or in chess (only pawns).




The umbrella term for promoting a pawn to Knight, Bishop, or Rook, is “underpromotion”. Which, at first, sounds like a demotion. But all it means is the piece the pawn is being promoted to is not the strongest piece possible, even if the underpromoted piece actually wins the game (as promoting to a queen can sometimes lead to an immediate stalemate).


By the way, the word PROMOTE is defined as [v. To upgrade a pawn, upon reaching the eighth rank, to a Rook, Knight, Bishop, or Queen, of one’s own color.]


You can’t promote your pawn to a piece of the opposite color, even if it will benefit you (and yes, this can happen).]


Confused? Good! Just wait until we start talking about OPPOSITION and ZUGZWANG.

Two Dances Of The Endgame



If you are fortunate to be a Queen ahead at the end of the game, congratulations! It means that you should be able to checkmate the enemy King.


There are many books that can show you how to checkmate, but I prefer this method.


It’s called the dance of the Queen (or the Chess Tango).


First of all, please note that the enemy King can only mated on the edge or corner of the board. We will let Black play first as this will show the method clearer than if White was to move.


Black moves away from of the side of the board and plays 1…Kd5.


Since Black did not move backwards, White just moves his King closer to the action; 2.Kg2. Black moves again with 2…Kc6, or one diagonal square backwards. White’s Queen moves in the same direction as the Black King, in other words she dances with him; 3.Qd4. We are now doing the tango.


Play might then continue as 3…Kc7 (one square backwards) 4.Qd5 (one square forwards) 4…Kb6 5.Kf3 Ka6 (one square to the side) 6.Qc5 (one square to the side) 6…Kb7 7.Qd6 Ka8.


At this point, The King is already on the Back rank, White’s bes plan is to let him just move along the back rank. So 8.Qd7 (watch out, 8.Qc7 is stalemate!) Kb8 9.Ke4 (White just moves his King closer) 9…Ka8 10.Kd5 Kb8 11.Kc6 Ka8 (what else?) 12.Qb7mate.




This is only slightly harder to win. The enemy King again must be driven to the side or corner of the board. And both the King and Rook must do the tango.


First of all, if it is White to move, he makes the dance floor smaller with 1.Rg5. Notice how the Black King simply cannot run away to b5. He is forced to dance.


So Black plays 1…Kb6. If Black King moves to c7 (one square backwards), the White Rook dances to g6 (again, one square forward).


Since the King has move to the side, White dance with his King with 2.Kc4. And so it goes on with 2…Ka6 3.Kb4 Kb6. And now that both Kings are so close enough to see each other (Kings have very bad eyesight), the Rook comes over to check up on them. Yes, its a bad pun, but 4.Rg6+ is the only way to make progress.


The rest of the game could continue as such: 4…Kc7 5.Kc5 (I want to keep my eye on you!) Kd7 6.Kd5 (to continue the dance!) Ke7 7.Ke5 Kf7 8.Ra6 (got to save the Rook!) Kg7 9.Kf5 Kh7 10.Kg5 Kg7 (he ran out of room!) 11.Ra7+ (needs to check up on the monarchs) Kg8 12.Kf6 Kh8 13.Kg6 Kg8 14.Ra8mate

A Queen Study

Wan Yunguo (2472)-P. Kotenko (2359)
Moscow Open
Russia, Feb. 1 2015
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c4!? [This variation of the Ruy Lopez is quite rare. Its main purpose is to have a strong point at d5 and limit Black’s responses. Here is another game: 5.c4!? Nf6 6.Nc3 Bd7 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Be7 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.O-O O-O 11.h3 Re8 12.Qf3 c5 13.Bc2 Bc6 14.Bd2 Nd7 15.Nd5 Bf6 16.Bc3 Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Nf8 18.Rfe1 Ne6 19.b4 a5 20.bxc5 Nxc5 21.Rad1 Qb8 22.Rb1 Qa7 23.e5 Rad8 24.Nf6+ gxf6 25.Qg3+ Kf8 26.exf6 Re5 27.Rxe5 dxe5 28.Qg7+ Ke8 29.Qg8+ Kd7 30.Bf5+ 1-0 (Ilia Smirin (2480)-Janis Klovans (2420), Baltic Republics Ch., Kuldiga, Latvia, 1987)] 5…Nf6 6.d3 Be7 7.h3 O-O 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Nc3 Bf6 10.Ne2 Re8 11.O-O Nf8 12.d4 exd4 13.Nfxd4 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Rxe4 15.Qd3 Bf5 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.Ng3 Re5 18.Qf3 c6 19.Rad1 Qe6 20.Qc3 Rd8 21.Rfe1 Re8 22.Rxe5 dxe5 23.Qb4 b5 24.cxb5 axb5 25.Bb3 Qc8 26.Nxf5 Qxf5 27.Rd6 Rc8 28.Qc5 Qb1+ 29.Kh2 Qxb2 30.Qa7 Ng6 31.Bxf7+ Kh8 32.Bxg6 hxg6 33.Rxg6 e4 34.Qe7 Ra8 35.Rg4 Qf6 36.Qxe4 Kg8 37.Rf4 Qd6 38.g3 Rf8 39.Rxf8+ Kxf8 (The last two moves were played so White would reach a winning queen endgame. However, having a winning advantage does not mean an easy-to-win advantage.)


40.Kg2 b4 (With both queens controlling the center the game is almost equal. Except White has an extra pawn.) 41.h4 c5 42.g4 g6 43.g5 Kg7 44.Kh3 Qc7 45.Qc4 Qe5 46.Kg2 Qc3 47.Qe4 c4 48.Qe7+ Kg8 49.Qe8+ Kg7 50.Qe7+ Kg8 (White of course could force a draw here. But he wants more. And advancing his pawns is the best way to increase his advantage.) 51.h5! gxh5 52.g6 Qg7 53.Qe6+ Kf8 54.Qd6+ Ke8 55.Qb8+ Ke7 56.Qxb4+ (If this move was not a check Black would have reasonable chances for a draw with …Qxg6+. This should be White’s method; willing to jostle for position and make a number of threats until it is safe for him to press his advantage.) 56…Kf6 57.Qxc4 Qxg6+ (Every pawn trade makes the position clearer to understand.) 58.Kh2 Qf5 59.Qd4+ Kg6 60.a4 Qa5 61.Qd3+ Kh6 62.Qe3+ Kg6 63.Qf4 Qd5 64.Qc7 Qf5 65.Qd6+ Kh7 66.Qd4 Qa5 67.Qd7+ Kh6 68.Qc6+ Kg7 69.Qb5 Qc7+ (Naturally White would win after a queen trade.) 70.Kg2 Qf4 71.Qd7+ Kh6 72.Qc6+ Kh7 73.Kf1 Qd4 74.Qc7+ Kh6 75.a5 Qd3+ 76.Kg1 h4 77.Qc6+ Kh5 78.a6 Qd4 79.Qe8+ Kg4 80.Qe6+ Kh5 81.Kg2 Qa1 82.Kh2 Qd4 83.Qe8+ Kg4 84.Qe2+ Kf5 85.Qf3+ Kg6 86.Kh3 Qa4 87.Qg4+ 1-0



“CUE” Less

During the big storm we had just before the weekend my wireless keyboard fell from my desk. I guess it was the thunder. But in any case I work up one morning to find my keyboard lying upside down on the floor.


When I turned it over, the CUE key had snapped off and was just gone. I couldn’t and still can’t find it. The CUE key is the first letter of a standard keyboard and is the 17th letter of the alphabet, just in case you didn’t know.


Normally, this might represent a problem, as the letter CUE is a rare one and one can write a letter and even a complete essay without this letter.




Since many things I do write about concern chess, this represents a more serious problem. Here are some chess terms I can’t type due to the missing CUE.


(X)ID [n. Short for (X)ueen’s Indian Defence, a standard defence for Black]

(X)UAD [n. A tournament with four players]

(X)UEEN (S) [n. The strongest piece at the beginning of the game. It combines the moves of a Rook and Bishop]

(X)UEEN (ED, ING, S) [v. To promote a pawn to a (x)ueen]

(X)UEENSIDE (S) [n. All the s(x)uares from the d1 to left and top of board]

(X)UEEN’S GAMBIT (S) [n. [n. A standard opening for White

S(X)UARE (S) [n. The basic unit of a chessboard]


Things are even worse with Descriptive Notation.


Now it is possible to play an entire game of chess without mentioning the (x)ueen.


Pasadena, 1932
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 Nc6? (4…d6) 5.d5 Nxe5 6.c5 Nbc4 7.f4 1-0


Fidlow-I. Mayer
Berlin, 1950
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.dxe6 dxc3 6.exf7+ Ke7 7.fxg8=N+ Rxg8 8.Bg5+ 1-0


But such games are (x)uite rare.


I finally found my backup keyboard. It is not wireless, but still very functional. Now I can continue my chess endeavors and not have to worry about batteries.