An endgame with a king and two knights against a king is very unusual, compared to similar positions with a different set of pieces. Despite the existence of checkmate positions, a king with two knights is incapable of enforcing them against a well-executed and relatively straightforward defense.
However, there is an exception. Ironically, even though a king accompanied by two knights cannot compel a checkmate against a single king, there are scenarios where this combination can successfully force checkmate against a king and other pieces. The additional material of the defending player allows for moves that obstruct the defending king from being stalemated.
The most typical situation happens when the defending player still has a pawn that isn’t too close to the promotion rank. Let’s analyze the following endgame:
It isn’t an easy task, and many strong players would struggle to achieve a victory in a similar position. Remember these fundamental tips:
- Blocking the opponent’s pawn is essential; otherwise, it will move to the transition field and then to the promotion field, making it more difficult for us to win. If we fail to prevent it from getting to the promotion field, we will have to capture it, which would not be advantageous for our victory.
- The goal is to force the opponent’s king to the edge of the board using only our king and one knight. However, accomplishing this is challenging, and we must employ a blocking piece to do so. To achieve this, we need to push the opponent’s king towards our knight, as it will restrict the available space for the opponent’s king and ultimately lead to their retreat towards the edge of the board.
- If the opponent’s king is already closed in the immediate vicinity of the corner square, the blocking knight joins the fight, and we force checkmate using the method already known to us.
Besides that, the opponent’s pawn must be far enough from the promotion rank, or it will promote before the blocking knight would finish the task. Alexey Alexeyevich Troitsky, a Russian chess theoretician and composer, conducted an extensive analysis of this endgame and identified a rule as a result of his study. This rule is known as the Troitsky Line:
If the pawn is securely blockaded by a white knight no further down than the line, then Black loses, no matter where the kings are.
And that’s it! The realm of chess endgames is exceedingly varied, and it requires a considerable effort to attain proficiency in all the essential scenarios and positions. Nonetheless, improving our game to a more advanced level necessitates this endeavor.