Puzzle Academy Content Update 3, including two complete endgames

Puzzle Academy now includes 26 new levels, including 10 new endgame skills, covering two complete endgames king and pawn versus king, and queen versus pawn.

Join Premium now and start learning chess tactics systematically with Puzzle Academy, or read on for details and examples about the new content.

Watch a video with an overview of the new skills and levels, and example of the queen versus pawn endgame:

Updated curriculum

There is now too much content for one curriculum. Therefore, the Puzzle Academy curriculum is now split into courses.

See a list of all courses here: Puzzle Academy Courses
Click on a course to see the detailed curriculum.

Force unlocking

The order of unlocking and mastering skills in Puzzle Academy is regulated by the Puzzle Academy skill tree. This ensures that you are only learning skills where you have mastered all prerequisites. Experienced players can use quick start, to start Puzzle Academy with skills corresponding to their rating.

Today we are introducing "Force unlock", so that experienced players can try to unlock any additional skills, irrespective of the skill tree. For example if you want to skip checkmate patterns, you can now still unlock checkmating with bishop and knight from our endgame course.

To force an unlock, go to the details page of a skill (via the Curriculum or the statistics page), and select "Force Unlock".

Endgame training with Puzzle Academy

Last month we published the first endgame training positions with fundamental checkmates, and the checkmate with bishop and knight. This month we continue with two complete endgames: King and pawn versus king, and queen versus pawn. You can read more about endgame training positions in this blog post.

Complete endgame king and pawn versus king

You can now learn and practice the complete endgame of king and pawn versus king. This includes five new skills and 14 new levels, covering all possible situations that can occur in this endgame.

In the "Fundamentals" course, there is a new skill "The rule of the square" with two levels. If you already know the rule of the square, unlocking this skill should be very easy. It still makes sense to add it to your practice pool, so you can learn to recognize these situations quickly.

In the "Endgames" course, there are four new skills, where you can learn and apply the concepts of "Opposition" and "Key squares". Here is an example, where you have to apply both concepts:

Click the diagram to solve the puzzle, and view the solution.
This endgame is very important, and now you can master all possible situations and play it confidently.

Complete endgame queen versus pawn

Also included are five new skills with eight new levels to cover the complete endgame of queen versus pawn.

The five skills correspond to all situations that can arise in these endgames. Usually the endgame is easily winning for the queen, unless the pawn is far advanced and supported by the king. The endgame is still winning, with the exception of bishop pawns and rook pawns. Here the king can hide in the corner and the side with the queen is unable to make progress because of possible stalemates. However, if the opponent's king is too close, there are checkmate threats, and the side with the queen is winning.

Here is an example where White can win against the rook pawn by creating checkmate threats:

Click the diagram to solve the puzzle, and view the quickest solution.
This endgame is also very important, because it can often arise from other endgames when one side promotes a little bit quicker than the other. You can now practice all possible situations with Puzzle Academy, so you can assess and play them confidently and quickly.

Additional new levels

In the "Combinations" course, I've added "Clearance for promotion" level 2. Here is a nice example:

White just captured a pawn with 1.Rxd3, hoping for 1...Rxd3 2.f8=Q, which would be a draw.
However, Black can win with the surprising 1...Rxf7!. White is forced to capture the rook with 2.Kxf7, because any other endgame would be lost. Now Black wins with the clearance 2...Kc2, and the rook is placed on the worst square of the board, and cannot prevent promotion.
Note that the intermediate check 2.Re8+ would not help because of 2...Kf7 with a counter attack on White's rook.

In the "Checkmatte patterns" course, there is now "Smothered mate" level 5. For example:

Click the diagram to solve this puzzle.

In the "Defence" course, there is now "Stalemate" level 2. Here is an example:

Black is attacking the knight on b3. The knight cannot move away, because it has to defend the promotion square a1. White is unable to defend the knight. Still, White can draw with 1.Na1! Kxa1 2.Kc1 (or Kc2) with stalemate.

In the "Attacking" course, there is now "Double attack" level 2. Here is an interesting example:

White has just sacrificed a piece for two pawns on b5, and is now forking the queen on c7 and the bishop on d6 with 1.Nxb5. If Black runs away with the queen, White will capture the bishop on d6 and will be two pawns up with a winning position. However, Black can win with 1...Bxh2+! 2.Nxh2 Qc6. Black has returned the piece for a pawn, but after the recapture the diagonal b7 - g2 is opened up, and Qc6 is a double attack, threatening checkmate on g2, and the knight on b5. Black wins the knight, and White remains with only one pawn for the piece, which is not enough.

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Future development and your feedback

Work has already started on additional endgames and levels, stay tuned for the next update.
As always your feedback is important and welcome, please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Martin Bennedik

Founder of ChessPuzzle.net, International Correspondence Chess Master