Pawn endings: where we are headed

In the next week or so, I'd like to wind up talking about this famous position, first published in the Chicago Tribune in 1901.

    Emanuel Lasker and Gustavus Reichhelm, Chicago Tribune, 1901    White to play and win


Emanuel Lasker and Gustavus Reichhelm, Chicago Tribune, 1901

White to play and win

This is a famously mind-bending endgame study: I'm old enough to have been mystified by it for for forty years. There are some mysteries about the history of this position, too:

Gustavus Charles Reichhelm (1839-1905) was a strong player from Philadelphia and chess columnist for the Philadelphia Times. Reichheim tuned pianos for a living (as did Chicago's Albert Sandrin, the legally blind winner of the 1949 U.S. Open). If Reichheim was regularly publishing in Philadelphia, how did this masterpiece come to be published in the Tribune of all places? 

Emanuel Lasker, world champion from 1894 to 1921, knew Reichhelm and had played him on an earlier American tour. Lasker was in Philadelphia during his 1901 American tour, so it's possible that he and Reichhelm analyzed this position together during Lasker's Philadelphia visit. I vaguely recall reading that both Lasker and Reichhelm had published different versions of this position. If someone could clarify the publication history and find the original on microfiche, I'd appreciate it.

Here are a couple interesting, if mildly contrived, Chicago angles to the Lasker-Reichhelm study. It's well-known that after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933 and leaving Moscow in 1937, Lasker ultimately settled in New York. But according to Isaak and Vladimir Linder, Emanuel and Martha Lasker briefly lived in Chicago with Martha's daughter. This was news to me. Here's a game Lasker played in Chicago at that time.

Second, it's been argued that one of the greatest plays of the twentieth century, Samuel Beckett's Endgame, was inspired in part by the Lasker-Reichhelm study.   The Hypocrites' production of Endgame is running at the Den Theatre, 1329 N. Milwaukee, until April 5th.

Oh, yes, pawn endings.  We need to talk about the opposition (see Mesgen's lesson plan) and about key squares (see my earlier post) a bit more first.  The opposition is merely a tool to fight for key squares. It's not the only tool.