Knights Need a Central Passed Pawn

Knights are an exception to the rule about “outside passed pawns”. In most endings, it is an advantage if your passed pawn is an outside passed pawn (e.g. it’s a Rook pawn). This is true, for example, in Bishop endings, Rook endings, Queen endings, and King-and-Pawn endings.

But Knight endings are often the exception. It can be better in a Knight ending to have a central passed pawn, like a Queen-pawn or a King-pawn, than an outside passed pawn (Rook-pawn or Knight-pawn). The reason is complex and related to the “short-range” nature of Knights. It is easier for a Knight to combine its duties of pushing the enemy King and Knight out of the pawn’s way, while also helping to defend the other pawns, if the passed pawn is central. Rooks, Bishops, and Queens are long-range pieces, and can combine duties of pushing an outside passed pawn while protecting their other pawns from a distance.

Related Chess Tactics

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