Study of the Month - A short history of endgame study castling II

by Siegfried Hornecker
6/25/2022 – Free association is an interesting mechanism to make up introductions for articles. Let us try: "Music was my first love and it will be my last", John Miles sang many years ago. The "Children" of Caissa rather would see their "Circle of Life" in Chess, where the WCCT-7 theme might have been predicted by Phil Collins in "Against All Odds" (who also performed the song named in the previous quotation): "Take a look at me now! There's just an empty space!", the bishop in the Kozłowski study might say this. | Photos: Pixabay

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A short history of endgame study castling II

O-O-On the road again

Continuing where we left off in April, we dive again into endgame studies which involve castling. With many pioneering studies out of the way, the relevant and interesting studies become less in proportion to the complete range of possible castling studies, but the overall frequency of those in the database increases.

We will begin with a small reminder study, set a few years after where we left previously, as nothing interesting happened in our theme during that period.


Alexander Herbstman & Vladimir Korolkov, Vecherni Leningrad 1948.

White to move and draw

After 1.b7 B:f7+ 2.e6! Black wants to castle. But let us look at the position in the diagram. What was the last move of Black? Certainly not with the rook on h8. But also certainly not with a pawn, or with the bishop on g8. So it must have been with the king on e8. But that means...
what does it mean when a king already moved? Oh, yes, he can't castle anymore! So Black can't castle kingside, and thus has nothing better than 2.-B:e6+ 3.Ka1 Kf7 4.b8Q R:b8 stalemate.

Combining castling with other themes makes sense. The following study shows how this can be done in a good way:


Tigran Gorgiev, Trud 1950, commendation.

White to move and win

After 1.0-0-0+ Ke7! 2.Re2+ Ne3 3.R:e3+ Kf6 4.Rf1+ Kg5 5.Rg3+ Kh4 there are two winning moves. Can you find at least one of them, and also how they continue? The solution, as well as all other studies from this month, as always is in the replayable entries at the end of the article.

Bottlik won the Magyar Sakkélet 1951 tourney (1st/2nd prize shared) with a study that uses too much material to show White castling to both sides. In the same year, an endgame study that I think I quoted already once in this article series was published for the first time. It is good enough to quote it again.


Jindřich Fritz, Centurini MT 1951, 1st commendation.

White to move and draw

I don't have deeper information on this tourney, so I assume it was commemmorating Luigi Cavaliere Centurini (1820-1900), Genoa's endgame theoretician and member of commissions and institutions for education and science. In 1865 he wrote an analysis of the "gambetto grande", a variation of the King's Gambit that begins with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 e:f4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4. Unfortunately the sources I find don't make it clear how White follows up now, but we learn that the gambit was already known to Polerio in 1590. With the name "gambetto grande", the big gambit, it seems likely that White sacrifices the knight either on f3 or f7 (Polerio gambit or Allgaier gambit). It also does not help that names of gambits change locally or over time (such as the proverbial Müller Schulze gambit, or Leipzig opening/gambit, 4.N:e5 in the Four Knights game, which nowadays has another "horrible", in both meanings of the word, proverbial name). Possibly a reader can provide Yours Truly with a scan of the supplement to Eco della scienza 1865 where this treatise was published? See the contact information below this article.

Let us return to the endgame study. White must be careful with how he begins. 1.b7 Bc5 2.Bf4! is necessary, as 2.Be5? 0-0+! would end in a disaster. But what is gained after 2.-Ba7 3.b6 Bb8! 4.B:b8 0-0+ which seems like an easy win for Black? How can White secure the draw?

A systematic maneuver

Parallels between a study by Hildebrand and a famous study with systematic maneuvers, as well as another classic, can be found. This subset of three endgame studies and a prior schema deserves a closer examination. Of course there was a well-known schematic idea by Szaja Kozłowski. (By the way, exact life data is searched for - can anyone find the birth date in church books or administrative documents from the first half of the 20th century in Poland?)


Szaja Kozłowski, Swiat Szachowsky 1931.

White to move and win

The proof why 1.g7? does not win takes quite a few moves, the solution 1.Rg7+! K:h8 2.Rh7+ Kg8 3.g7! is a clear example of the theme used many years later in the seventh WCCT (the World Chess Composition Tournament): The same position repeats but with a piece of White removed which proves to be advantageous. From Kozlowski's idea, two strategems became clear: If in the final position another black pawn is on f6 and the white king is on f5, 3.-K:h7 4.g:f8R forces an underpromotion. Simply modifying the position as is for this does not work (Evgeny Dvizov tried it many years later), but alread František Richter in 1933 must have known this to not work when he incorporated the stalemate into a modified version of the study.


Alexander Hildebrand, Springaren 1955, 1st/2nd prize.

Black to move, White draws

After 1.-Rh2 the passed pawns on the queenside seem like less a threat than the lone g-pawn. Indeed, White would be completely lost if he could not castle kingside. Readers will easily find that the checkmate threat after 2.0-0! g2 requires checks to counter, so it should be easy to spot how White draws now.

The author reworked his study and sent that version to another tourney.


Alexander Hildebrand, "Problem" 1957, 2nd commendation

White to move and win

Drawing the conclusions from the previous study, the now adept reader might see how White can win after the introductory 1.Rh7+ Kg8 2.g7 Ra6+ when he looks at small differences between the setups. Escaping the checks without exposing the king to a check by Rf8 is possible. But the master missed an even more elaborate setting that a young Georgian star would find nearly two decades later.


David Gurgenidze, Gantiadi 1974, 1st/2nd prize.

White to move and win

The Dutch author ("Spoorloos", translated as "The Vanishing") and chess curiosities collector Tim Krabbé wrote about this study in his "Schaakkuriosa" even before Yours Truly was born. Indeed here after 1.Rh7+ Kg8 2.g7 Ra6+ the same idea as in the previous two studies is pushed to its limits. Humans will have an easier time than computers finding the next 22 moves(!), but the final steps after that...?
(By the way, Werner Keym is among the most avid collectors and composers of chess curiosities in Germany. He recently was at the center of a curiosity himself, as his 80th birthday was at the 22nd of February: 2/22/22, or in German notation 22.02.2022 - a palindrome!)

More, more, more


Genrikh Kasparyan, Szachy 1956, 2nd prize.

White to move and draw

White is advantageous in material but the passed a-pawn is very dangerous. There is only a thin margin for error from both sides. White can draw only by active play: 1.f7+ K.f7 2.Nd3! a2 saves the knight, but forces White into a crammed position in the corner. 3.0-0+! Ke6 4.Ra1 e4! Black plays on the highest niveau of chess, finding the correct way to proceed. 5.Nb4 Ra4! 6.N:a2 Bf6! Everything seems lost, White apparently can only resign as he will remain a piece down. Maybe a world class player might find the way to draw, but even those will have to use all of their imagination, so nearly all readers will want to head straight to the replayable entries. There are no tricks like "0-0-0-0-0" with a king on b1. Everything happens under the normal chess rules...

Not under the rules of chess but under the rules of psychology is a phenomenon known as "pareidolia". Let us test it on the chessboard.


Ernest Pogosyants & Abram Gurvich, Shakhmatnaya Moskva, 21 November 1964. Correction by Peter Krug, "Estudios Artistices de Ajedrez" 2016.

White to move and win.

You immediately spot that White can castle queenside. So after seeing all the previous endgame studies with castling, you know that this will become important...
1.Nd4 e:f3 2.Kf2!
Pareidolia! You spotted the face of castling, but it is not there! It is just a mirage! As a small consolation, you might deliver the final blows after 2.-f:g2 to punish Edward and his king.

Panic in the disco? No, Panecki at the discussion! His 1965 study combines castling with a pretty neat idea.


Jerzy Panecki, Szachy 1965.

White to move and win

It isn't pareidolia again, as the only reasonable way to continue is 1.0-0 Q:g7 2.Rf3+ Kh4 3.Kg2 with the threat of checkmate on h3. The checkmate seems unavoidable, so Black can only res...ourcefully sacrifice his dancing queen (her first move was 1.-Q:g7, so it contains "17"). She can dance to c3, is this the end of her life? See that girl, watch that scene, how do you win? 3.-Qc3 leads to stalemate if White takes on c3, but is there any other option? As a small hint, 4.Nf1 Qd4 (among others) doesn't lead anywhere...

Of note is now the International Friendship Team Tourney. We had an entire article about that a few months ago, as a reaction of my horror of seeing war in Europe again. Let us only keep in mind that N. Littlewood in 1965 tried to show an endgame study with en passant, castling and pawn promotion. This is the theme named after Joaquim (de) Valladão Monteiro, the Valladão task. This would have deserved an article on its own, but there would not have been enough example that a broad audience can enjoy. My personal rendition of the theme won the "König & Turm" tourney many years later, it is included as a bonus study this month.

A sad truth is that not every endgame study is correct, but often their content is worth seeing. An editor is left with the unfortunate choice of showing the incorrect study, correcting the study, or not showing it at all. I took the third option with the Littlewood study, as its core was broken, but in the following study only the first move was defective by a second solution. The study can be saved easily by either removing the first move, or replacing wQa8 with wPe7 in the diagram. As "Ende" is German for "end", the name of the Dutch composer is fitting to end this second part of the article series.


Johan van den Ende, Schakend Nederland 1966.

White to move and win (see text above)

Please ignore that 1.Qa5+ Kh6 2.Ne5! also wins for White, as found by Daniel Keith 40 years after the first publication of the study. Instead, let us look at the solution.

White must play actively, so 1.Qe8+ Kh6 2.N:g4+! Q:g4 3.Qh8+ Kg5 4.Qg7/Qg8+ Kh5 5.Q:g4+ K:g4 is the way to proceed. Having reached material equality, White can abuse the bad position of the pieces of his opponent. How should he proceed?

This is the end. My only friend, the end.

Let us end this article the way it started, with another musical quote. Next month we likely will talk about contemporary studies from a strong rather new composer who studies questions like "Are we human, or are we dancer?" We can't offer Flowers however.



Siegfried (*1986) is a German chess composer and member of the World Federation for Chess Composition, subcommitee for endgame studies. His autobiographical book "Weltenfern" (in English only) can be found on the ARVES website. He presents an interesting endgame study with detailed explanation each month.
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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/26/2022 11:36
(Of course the dual isn't Rg2 but Rh7.)
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/26/2022 11:25
If you can stop the solution a move earlier, as you suggested in the Van der Ende study, you can also start the solution a move later - I don't see the added worth of the moves 1 Qe8+ Kh6. That takes me to the question how a tournament jury handles situations like this: you could argue that the author is responsible for the initial position, but isn't he also responsible for the intended solution? (Which would put people in the right saying Rg2# is a dual.)
Theochessman Theochessman 6/25/2022 02:39
Why is there this trippy effect on the pictures?
It makes me dizzy and nauseaus.