JOSÉ R. CAPABLANCA
First Principles: Endings, Middle-Game, and Openings
The first thing a student should do, is to familiarize himself with the power of the pieces. This can best be done by learning how to accomplish quickly some of the simple mates.
1. SOME SIMPLE MATES
Example 1. — The ending Rook and King against King.
The principle is to drive the opposing King to the last line on any side of the board.
Example 1: White to play
In this position the power of the Rook is demonstrated by the first move, Rh7, which immediately confines the Black King to the last rank, and the mate is quickly accomplished by 1.Ra7 Kg8 2.Kg2
The combined action of King and Rook is needed to arrive at a position at which mate can be forced. The general principle for a beginner to follow is to
keep his King as much as possible on the same rank, or, as in this case, file, as the opposing King.
When, in this case, the King has been brought to the sixth rank, it is better to place it, not on the same file, but on the one next to it towards the center.
2...Kf8 3.Kf3 Ke8 4.Ke4 Kd8 5.Kd5 Kc8 6.Kd6
Not 6.Kc6 , because then the Black King will get back to d8 and it will take much longer to mate.
If now 6...Kd8 7.Ra8 mates at once.
7.Rc7 Ka8 8.Kc6 Kb8 9.Kb6 Ka8 10.Rc8 mate.
On move 5, Black could have played 5...Ke8 , and, according to principle, White would have continued 6.Kd6 Kf8 the Black King will ultimately be forced to move in front of the White King and be mated by Ra8. 7.Ke6 Kg8 8.Kf6 Kh8 9.Kg6 Kg8 10.Ra8 mate.
Example 2: White to play
Since the Black King is in the center of the board, the best way to proceed is to advance your own King thus: 1.Ke2 Kd5 2.Ke3 As the Rook has not yet come into play, it is better to advance the King straight into the center of the board, not in front, but to one side of the other King. Should now the Black King move 2...Ke5, the Rook drives it back by 3.Rh5+. On the other hand, if 2...Kc4 then also 3.Rh5 If now 3...Kb4, there follows 4. Kd2, but if instead 3...Kc3 4.Rh4 , keeping the King confined to as few squares as possible.
Now the ending may continue 4...Kc2 5.Rc4+ Kb3 6.Kd3 Kb2 7.Rb4+ Ka3 8.Kc3 Ka2 It should be noticed how often the White King has moved next to the Rook, not only to defend it, but also to reduce the mobility of the opposing King. Now White mates in three moves thus: 9.Ra4+ Kb1 10.Ra8 Or Rook to any square on the a-file, forcing the Black King in front of the White. 10...Kc1 11.Ra1 mate. It has taken eleven moves to mate, and, under any conditions, I believe it should be done in under twenty. While it may be monotonous, it is worthwhile for the beginner to practice such things, as it will teach him the proper handling of his pieces.