Pawns on Only One Side Draw

In an endgame, if there are pawns on only one side of the board, then itís very drawish. This is true of knight endings, bishop endings, rook endings, queen endings, and pawn endings. Thatís every single type of ending! With so many draws, this is one reason why the endgame advice is that to win ďswap pieces but not pawnsĒ. To win an endgame, you need pawns that can become Queens.

The reason these one-sided endgames are so often drawn is that itís hard for either player to create a passed pawn. The King is blocking the pawns. And each playerís pawns are blocking the otherís pawns. And thereís no swinging side to side trying to win extra pawns on one side of the board or the other. The defender only needs to defend one part of the board now. The chances of Queening a pawn are pretty low.

Thereís also not many pawns left on the board in these endings. The fewer pawns on the board, the more likely a draw. Itís easier for the weaker player to swap all the pawns, or to sacrifice a piece for the last pawn or two. A lot of pawnless endgames are drawn even with an extra piece.

But it isnít always true that pawns on a single side draw. It is true only of quite simplified endgames, where each player has only a single piece each. Not all such endings are drawn. If you have an extra piece, the win is still easy.

And a lot of equal endgames can be won with pawns on one side, so long as thereís enough fire-power on the board. Whereas a single rook ending is drawish, a double rook ending where each player has 2 rooks will often still have many tactical traps. If each player has a Queen and Rook, thatís hardly an endgame at all, and itís certainly not drawish. Even endgames with a few pieces, like each player having a Rook and a couple of Knights or Bishops are still very tactical, with many chances of winning.

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