The Opposition is a special zugzwang used in pawn endgames to force a draw or stalemate or to push your pawn through and convert it to a queen. It occurs when only a king and a king and a pawn are left on the board. In chess a king can’t put himself in check so if two kings are squaring off the king that must move first will be the one that yields ground to the other king, this is the basis of The Opposition. The best way to understand it is to see it in action so here is the classic example of The Opposition, Gligoric vs Fischer in Yugoslavia 1959:

chess notation

Place the white king on c4 with a white pawn on b4. Place the Black king on c8. Black to play and it is the first move below which enables black to draw.

  1. …   Kb8
  2. Kb5 Kb7
  3. Ka5 Ka7
  4. b5 Kb7
  5. b6 Kb8
  6. Ka6 Ka8
  7. B7+ Kb8
  8. Kb6

To fully appreciate this go through it making other moves for the black king and you will start to get a feel for how the zugzwang opposition is used. You have to study it, it wont just fall into your lap. Here is an aggressive example of The Opposition where black queens his pawn. Place white king on c2 and black king on c4 with a black pawn on e3. White to play.

  1. Kc1 Kc3
  2. Kd1 Kd3
  3. Ke1 e2

These types of situations happen often and every chess player should have good understanding of them in order to avoid or cause them. When figuring out your middle game see how it leaves your pawns and take The Opposition into account, will you have it or will they?


Endgames in Chess
Pawn Endgames