Chess End Game Lesson

End game between Jose Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine

Before getting into this end game between Jose Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, let me introduce myself. I, Jonathan Whitcomb, am a chess author, recently becoming available in the Salt Lake Valley for tutoring in private chess lessons (I live in Murray, Utah). Yet I sometimes teach by example, playing informal games of chess with children.

The following end-game study is not from an informal game; it’s from the World Championship of 1927 in Argentina: the 29th game, and it’s not child’s play. For players much more advanced than beginners, however, it can be very instructive.

End game between Jose Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine

Diagram-1: White to move and win in this end game in 1927

After fifty-five moves, Capablanca was a pawn ahead in a difficult end game with the challenger Alekhine. In a wide open end game, a bishop is often superior to a knight, but some grandmasters are experts at using a knight efficiently, and Capablanca was one of the greatest endgame players of all time.

How can White win here? First notice that if Ne5, the black king cannot approach the knight and d-pawn with Kf6 because Nd7 would win the bishop for White. At first glance it would appear that Black would simply move f5. But White would have a shocking way to quickly win: d6! The black king would still be kept out and the bishop could not take the d-pawn because of a knight fork with Nf7+. Let’s look at that variation, although it did not actually occur in the Capablanca-vs-Alekhine championship match.

56) Ne5   f5

57) d6!  . . . .

If Black moves fxg4+ then White wins with Kg2(!)

Diagram-2: The d-pawn cannot be captured and the black king cannot approach it

Notice that the knight has two potential forking squares: d7 and f7. If the bishop captures the pawn at d6, a knight fork on f7 wins that bishop; if the king tries to catch the d-pawn by moving to f6, a knight fork on d7 wins the bishop.

It does not matter if Black captures both White’s d-pawn and g-pawn by sacrificing the bishop. White’s knight and f-pawn are sufficient to win.

Consider the position after these moves:

57) . . . .  fxg4+

58) Kg2  . . . .

White wins this chess endgame, even thought it's Black's turn to moveDiagram-3: Black to move cannot stop the d-pawn

So one move later, in Diagram-3, what has changed? Essentially nothing. The bishop, knight, black king, and d-pawn are on the same squares, with the same possibilities of knight forks. Black may now approach with the king, with Kf5, but White would simply advance the d-pawn, threatening to queen it. If the bishop would then move to b6 or to e7 to cover the queening square, the knight could move to c6, soon forcing Black to give up the bishop after the capture of the queen.

Here are the moves in this chess endgame lesson:

58) . . . . Kf5

59) d7   Bb6

60) Nc6 . . . .

Did not actually occur in the game

Diagram-4: Black must sacrifice the bishop after the White pawn promotes

In the actual game in this World Championship match, White (Capablanca) won another pawn and eventually won the end game, giving future generations of chess players a beautiful chess lesson in how to win this kind of end game.



Jonathan Whitcomb plays chess with a child

Utah chess tutor Jonathan Whitcomb sometimes teaches by example


Utah Chess Coach Battle

Mr. Gustafsson [chess tutor or instructor] gave a simultaneous exhibition to end the chess event at the South Jordan County Library on June 22nd, and I [Jonathan Whitcomb, another chess coach or teacher] was one of about nine players who tested the skills of this expert. As far as I know, I was the only one of his competitors who did not lose. Most of the players were children. [Whitcomb vs Gustafsson was a draw.]

Salt Lake Chess Tutor

  • Chess Teacher Versus Beginner
  • Tutor Teaches by Example [playing games]
  • Chess coaches in western USA
  • Salt Lake Open – Tournament
  • Blitz Chess Tournaments in Utah

Chess Instruction in Utah

To begin, I’m Jonathan Whitcomb, a chess tutor living in Murray, Utah, so you won’t be surprised that I recommend getting private lessons from a chess instructor like me. Yet other options are available, if you would try a cheaper way to learn how to play and win. For the raw beginner, the player who knows the rules of the game but has little practical ability in winning, I recommend my book: Beat That Kid in Chess.


Chess Tournament for Kids in Utah

By Jonathan Whitcomb, author of Beat That Kid in Chess

The Utah state elementary school chess championship tournament was held on Saturday, March 14, 2016, at the University of Utah. I was delighted to photograph the event and see the hundreds of children who participated and the countless family members who supported them in this USCF-rated event.

Utah state elementary school chess championship

Parents and kids check out the pairings for the first round of the tournament

Sixth Grade Section of the Tournament (about 60 players)

Details on the final scores of the sixth-grade division of the competition are not yet available from the United States Chess Federation, but here are the pairings for the sixth-round final games (scores through the first five rounds and pre-event ratings included):

Anna Lee (5.0; 991) versus Gatlin Black (5.0; 1509)

Bhattacharyya (4.0; 398) versus Kyle Tracy (4.0; 855)

Benjamin Ludlow (4.0; 722) versus Robb Schonlau (4.0; unrated)

Phillip Liu (4.0; 639) vs Paul Carter (4.0; unr)

Sarah Day (4.0; 596) vs Jason Elzinga (4.0; unr)

Cj Padilla (4.0; 360) vs Henry Chen (3.0; 845)

Ilaisa Toa (3.0; unr) vs Angie Li (3.0; 797)

C Christensen (3.0; unr) vs Leya Joseph (3.0; 790)

Callum Dingley (3.0; 475) vs Benjamin Huber (3.0; unr)

Joseph Stay (3.0; 355) vs Jackson Sheen (3.0; unr)

Colton Hunter (3.0; 170) vs Cody Roberts (2.5; unr)

Kimball Snapp (3.0; unr) vs Mark Pilzer (3.0; unr)

Camero Voorhees (3.0; unr) vs Rachel Arlen (3.0; unr)

Ben Bramwell (3.0; unr) vs Angela Zhou (3.0; unr)

Finn Pead (3.0; unr) vs Lou McCracken (3.0; unr)

Josh McMurray (2.5; unr) vs Logan Tanner (2.5; unr)

Jared Jameson (1.5; unr) vs Allison Cao (2.0; 555)

Natha [Nathan?] Hartley (2.0; unr) vs Thoma [Thomas?] Matthew (2.0; unr)

Tedd Ekstrand (2.0; unr) vs Austin Snarr (2.0; unr)

Mi Drollinger (2.0; unr) vs Logan Luker (2.0; unr)

Doruk Toydemir (2.0; unr) vs Eli McDonough (2.0; unr)

Ashi Peterson (2.0; unr) vs Dalli Bingham (2.0; unr)

Kaylana Price (2.0; unr) vs Saxon Mendoza (2.0; unr)

Thush Reppale (2.0; unr) vs Elaine Nielson (2.0; unr)

Grant Hardy (1.5; unr) vs Georg [George?] Wintriss (1.5; 420)

Evan Ikeda (1.5; unr) vs London Pettit (1.0; unr)

Jack Taylor (1.0; unr) vs Emily Carroll (1.0; unr)

Leif Swenson (1.0; unr) vs Abigail Strong (1.0; unr)

Alex Carroll (1.0; unrated) versus Makenna Worley (1.0; unrated)

Eddie Slobodow (1.0; unr) vs Spence Crawford (0.0; unr)

The above pairings are for the final (sixth) round of the tournament, for sixth graders, with White on the left and Black on the right.

The following photos are from the sixth-grade division:

One of the last games completed (6th graders)


one of the last children's chess games



Speed chess tournament in Utah in 2016

Fourteen wins in as many games—that gave 17-year-old Kayden Troff a clear victory at the University of Utah, on Saturday, February 27, 2016, in the open section of the Utah Speed Championship.

Chess book best for beginners

For the novice chess players who know the rules but little else about chess

Chess for Kids in the United States

Chess Life for Kids is the official publication of the United States Chess Federation (US Chess) for age 12 and under. A subscription to this leading chess magazine is one of the benefits of Scholastic membership in US Chess.