This is the first of a series of posts that I will tag under EndgameBlues.

The foundation of strong chess technique is avoiding counterplay. Winning a chess game, or converting an overwhelming advantage into a full point in chessspeak, requires the player to have firm skills to put an end to complications to avoid any form of unforeseen, unexpected activity.

The theme of today's game is converting knight endgames with material advantage, specifically with the material advantage of a single pawn. A single pawn is the smallest form of material advantage and therefore it is the most difficult to convert into a full point. The difficulty decreases as the game simplifies, as stronger pieces move out of the board, adding to the relative strength of the pawn and opening up files to increase the likelihood of pawn promotion into a stronger piece.

For an instructive, classical treatment of the problem of conversion in knight endgames with minimal material advantage, look at the position after Black's 29th move, just after queens are traded in the endgame of Lasker - Marshall, World Chess Championship Match 1907, Round 2.

First, though, a short introduction of the players which is by all means unnecessary.

Mr. Emanuel Lasker is the second world chess champion and the current holder of the record of the longest holder of the world chess champion title. One of his most characteristic skills was his precision in endgames, which, in my opinion has served a great benefit for him over his common opponents in his day. He understood and applied endgame principles much stronger than his contemporaries.

One of his common opponents Frank James Marshall, renowed with his invaluable contribution to the chess opening theory, the Marshall Gambit of the Ruy Lopez which remains a topical line in the chess stratosphere today. He was a romantic attacker, a creative, original player. In chessspeak, he had a tendency of recreationally preferring to overvalue dynamic advantages over static features of chess middlegames without any particular change of stylistic variation on whether the position is a queenless and/or late-middlegame or even endgame.

One side faces the question of converting the material advantage into a win, the other side is obliged to make full use of the dynamism in the position to complicate the implementation of the conversion to achieve a draw.

Keep in mind the main theme, paying special care to the manevouring of the white knight. Consistently and strongly preferring to avoid all opponent counterplay avoiding the templation to {quick,mis}play the position. This is the foundation of strong chess technique as displayed by a world champion. Therefore I will repeat it in bold: Do not hurry, Avoid/Prevent all counterplay.

Viva Karpov, but we'll get to that later.

In the iframe below you may find the lichess study with my analysis of the game. Click here if the iframe does not work for you. If you prefer to browse the analysis with your personal chess UI of choice, here is the PGN file for your convenience.

Note, the lichess study has chat open for everyone so feel free to share your comments and variations. Cloning is also open for everyone so you can base your analysis on this one. Please drop a comment with your study link if you clone so people reading the main study will be aware of your version as well.