A Fascinating Endgame Study

Many chess players think that the endgame with 2 knights versus pawn(s) is a waste of time. But I like endgames in general, and the challenge of this endgame as perhaps the most difficult there is, was enough to make me dig into the books.

Alexey Troitsky

Black to move, White wins.

(If White were to move, there would be mate in 5. Take a couple of minutes to figure out how.)

The winning procedure for White (after the obvious 1…Ka1) takes 54 moves in the solution, and the following steps are undertaken:

  1. White needs to Change Front from Kc2/Nc4 to Kb3/Nd3
  2. Transfer of the knight to f3, preparing to ‘change horses’
  3. Force the pawn from h4 to h3, changing reserve knight from Nh3 to Nh2
  4. Return with the (other) knight to d3, trapping the king in the a1-corner once again
  5. Change front from Kb3/Nd3 to Kc2/Nc4
  6. With 20.Nd2+!, White begins forcing the Black king towards the h1-corner
  7. With the pawn on h3, the reserve knight on h2 can be sacrificed – leading to mate in the h1-corner
  8. The h3-pawn has passed the Troitsky Line, which means that White cannot mate in ALL 4 corners. In this case, the a8-corner is not an option, so the Black king cannot allowed to escape there
  9. If Black stays near the h1-corner, White transfers the active knight to g4 (Bolton’s Position), eventually forcing Black to capture Nh2, forcing mate
  10. In the main continuation, the king is mated in the h8-corner after a king triangulation, change of front and the initiation of the final assault by releasing the reserve knight from h2

Click here to see the solution to the study.