Pawn endings: the importance of a tempo

I posted a link to yesterday's blog post on the Facebook group Chicago Area Chess (you should join if you already haven't) and I asked local instructors how they teach these basic (and not-so-basic) pawn endings. I was honored to get a reply from Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov. I will steal Mesgen's reply for today's post and continue with key squares tomorrow.

Great article Bill,
At the end you ask, "How do you teach these endgames to your students"?  For the rating range 700-1200, here is how I start teaching pawn endgames,

I set up this position:

WhoseMoveIsIt.jpg

I ask the student, "Will White win or this is going to be a draw"?  After some thought, the student claims either a win or a draw. I then say, "This is the wrong answer, give yourself another minute...."  I can only imagine what's going on in my student's mind, something like "Why would this crazy coach give me a minute to think for a position with only one answer left??" Anyways, after a minute I hear this: "Oh yeah it's a win!" or "Yeah it's a draw."  Then I would again say that this answer is wrong.

Here comes confusion in the student's mind and only now is it a perfect moment to explain the importance of a tempo.

What was your answer?

If you answered, "It depends on whose turn it is," that is an OK answer.

And if you answered, "If it is White to move, it is a draw, and if it is Black to move, White wins," that's a perfect answer.