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  3. Please Help with Pawn Endgame

Hi guys, may I ask for some tips regarding this pawn endgame? Was holding the c3 pawn very important to ensure victory?

The way to win this pawn ending was while white was distracted taking the pawn on c3 to quickly create a past pawn on the kingside by playing f5 and then f4. Then after white is forced to take on f4 your h pawn is too quick. You shouldn't waste moves trying to push the c pawn as white will end up taking it anyway.

You were wrong to allow the pawn's endgame in the way you did. As you were one pawn down it was lost from the start of it. Pawn endgames with one pawn less are almost always lost. So you should have played 34...bxc4 to get even in pawns. Three moves earlier you could have won a pawn and the game with 31...cxd3.
Now white immediately blunders in the won position for him: with 36 b3 he makes a hole in his pawn structure where your king can enter. He should have brought up his king 36 Kg2. In pawn endings the kings should march to the centre.
39...c2 was losing. Just 39...f5 would have won for you. It creates a threat to break through on the king's wing with ...h4 or ...f4 if his king goes towards your c3 pawn.
With 42...f5 you could still hold a draw, but 42...Kf3 was just losing as his b-pawn queens.

(1) Position after 35...Kf6 :
White has a passed pawn on d5, but he is about to loose it because Ke5xd5 is unstoppable. Material is even, but White has two tempi with which he can do something constructive. What can he do with only two tempi ?
36.b3?? makes his queenside majority useless. With 36...b4, Black has no problem neutralizing three pawns with two pawns, because the c-pawn is backward.
The two tempi should be used by White to infiltrate his king. That's the source of his advantage. 36.Kg2! Ke5 37.Kh3 Kxd5 38.Kh4 and Black cannot keep his kingside majority. White's g-pawn will be exchanged for Black's f-pawn and then White will win the game on the queen side because his majority has no weakness in which Black can infiltrate.

(2) Position after 39.Ke3 :
All the pawns are disconnected, except White's a and b-pawns. White has a passed d-pawn, Black has an advanced passed c-pawn. Black needs one tempo to capture the d-pawn, White needs two tempi to capture the c-pawn. What can Black do with an extra tempo ?
Black can create an outside passed pawn with a central breakthrough f5-f4. If White's king captures the c-pawn, his king is "outside the square" of the h-pawn (he can't catch it in a race). Black's material deficit (the sacrificed f-pawn) does'nt count because his passed pawns are too quick. White's passed pawn are d and f-pawns, easy to catch with Black's centralized king. Black has outside passed pawns (c and h-pawns).
The breakthrough is the main tactical weapon in a pawn endgame.

@Checkmatealot @A-Cielbleu @tpr Thanks for the constructive feedback! Anyone has fantastic resources for these sort of pawn endgames?

There are few helpful principles (the opposition, the "square" of a passed pawn, how detrimental are backward and doubled pawns,...). This example was very good and representative : pawn endgames are often purely tactical. With enough time, they can usually be calculated to a finish.

You have two tactical devices in pawn endgames : breakthroughs and mined squares. As usual, if you see a lot of them, you improve. Where to start ?
a) There are two big types of breakthroughs : the one in your game (a bishop pawn draws a knight pawn away from a rook pawn) and 3p vs 3p (start with a5-b5-c5 vs a7-b7-c7 and kings far away ; 1.b6! cxb6 2.a6! bxa6 3.c6-c7-c8:Q). Other types exist too but they are less frequent.
b) About mined squares, triangulation is the simple case and can be learned first ; after that, you can move to more complicated cases.

The dedicated book "The final countdown" by Van Riemsdijk & Hajenius is good. All other general endgame books: Averbakh, Fine, Dvoretzky, Euwe... also treat pawn endgames.

Pawn endgames are relatively rare in practice. As they can be calculated, one side has reason to avoid it. That is one reason why rook endings occur more frequently.

I have the endgame book 'Fundamental Chess Endings' by Karsten Müller and Frank Lamprecht which is quite thorough on all types of ending so some of it might be a bit advanced but if you're keen on improving it's the type of thing you should read.

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