3.4.2. Pawn on Sixth Rank
345. In knight endings of crucial importance is the pawn’s distance from the promotion square. The greater the distance, the slimmer are the prospects of winning! This important conclusion is made evident already with the pawn on the sixth rank. That is, whilst all typical positions with the pawn on the seventh rank are relatively easily won, the weaker side has good chances of saving the game when the pawn is on the sixth rank. The general rule is: the drawing chances are the better the farther away the pawn is from the rim of the chess-board! We shall first consider the positions with the rook’s pawn maximally supported by own king. Black loses, as a rule, due to the lack of manoeuvring room, since the winning penetration of the pawn on the seventh rank can only be prevented by defence from the rear and the right flank. However, although White keeps on threatening to deflect the enemy knight from the critical square a7, the realization of advantage can be incredibly difficult due to the existence of as many as three dangerous traps, that is, three positions where Black unexpectedly may get away with draw. In all three positions the common denominator is that the black king has succeeded in attacking the enemy pawn from behind, whereas the white knight has not achieved the optimal position.