3.7. Knight and Two Pawns vs. Knight and One Pawn
In endings of knight and two pawns against knight and one pawn, the outcome depends to a great degree on piece-activity and pawn structure, and, above all, the proximity of pawns to the promotion square. Given the approximately equal king and piece-activity, a win is possible only when the superior side has the connected passed pawns or an outside passed pawn. The prospects of a successful defence are considerable with pawns on the same wing, especially when none of the pawns is passed or when they are blockaded.
With regard to the specific strategy employed in different types of positions, we may divide these endings into five basic groups:
1) with connected pawns – none of them passed
2) with connected pawns and one passed pawn
3) with connected passed pawns
4) with isolated pawns and one passed pawn
5) with isolated passed pawns
3.7.1. Connected Pawns – None of Them Passed
In knight, as well as pawn endings, a passed pawn – especially an outside passed pawn – represents considerable advantage. As a rule, knight and two pawns – none of them passed – cannot win against knight and one pawn. The exceptions are possible only in truly rare cases, that is, when the weaker side’s pieces are exceptionally passive. In endings where neither side has a passed pawn, the superior side might win only if it can by force capture the enemy pawn. Most of the time this is not possible since the weaker side can defend successfully even with a very passive king. This assertion is also corroborated by the ending of the game Zapata – Van der Wiel, Brussels, 1986.
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