Isn’t the term triangulation somewhat familiar to us? I believe I’ve mentioned it on at least two occasions before – in this article and that article. It’s a commonly observed pattern in endgames in the game of chess. Essentially, triangulation is a tactic employed to force one’s opponent into a disadvantageous position called zugzwang, where any move made by them is unfavorable. Triangulation is sometimes referred to as losing a tempo or losing a move.
Triangulation is a strategy frequently observed in endgames involving only kings and pawns, where one king can navigate three adjacent squares forming a triangular shape while maintaining the fundamental position. In contrast, the opposing king has access to only two such squares. In this scenario, if a king executes a series of three moves to return to the initial square (triangulate), while the opposing king is unable to do the same, it results in the loss of a vital tempo. Consequently, both players end up in the same position, but with the advantage of the next move belonging to the player who triangulated. It’s worth noting that triangulation can also occur in other endgames, and occasionally even in certain middlegame situations.
Let’s analyze two typical examples.
Triangulation with a king
Triangulation with a rook
To master the art of triangulation, chess players must develop an intuitive understanding of endgame dynamics, precise calculation abilities, and strategic planning. Familiarity with pawn structures, king activity, and tactical patterns is essential for recognizing potential triangulation opportunities. As with any chess tactic, studying practical examples, analyzing grandmaster games, and engaging in tactical training can significantly enhance one’s triangulation skills.