Closing The Gap – Queen versus 7th Rank Pawn Endgame

In the endgame, there is often a race for promotion. When this happens, it doesn’t matter so much how many pawns you have, as much as their ability to promote. This is because a queen is good at doing a mop up job. In this chapter, we will be looking at the situation where one side has promoted, and the other has a pawn on the seventh rank – a whisker away from promotion. This type of endgame is common, because it works with all the different pawns (a-h). The method that I am going to recommend is a simple one, which never fails. I call it closing the gap.

Closing the Gap With Your Queen

This study is taken from a recent blitz game of mine on Both sides have made 48 moves already. In this position below, white must ensure that black is not given a move to promote, as this will result in a draw.

White to move:

49. Qa7+ Kf1 (49…Ke1 50. Qe3+ zooming into the position) 50. Qa6+ Kf2 51. Qb6+ Kf1

Pattern #1: Bring your queen closer to the enemy pawn, through checks – to keep the black king busy – until it is right next to it.

52. Qb5+ Kf2 53. Qc5+ Ke2 54. Qc4+ Kf2 55. Qd4+ Kf1

This pattern is repeated many times until the queen is in a proximity to the black king. Let`s see what happens if the black king decides to go away from the pawn instead of in front of it, or to the side of it (shown in brackets).

56. Qd3+ Kf2 (56…Ke1 57. Qg3+ Kf1 see the board below – carry on with 58. Qf3+ to force the black king in front of the pawn). 57. Qd2+ Kf1 58. Qf4+ Ke1 59. Qg3+ Kf1

60. Qf3+ Kg1 The black king is now in the way of his own pawn. This gives us time to maneuver our own king into position.

Closing the Gap With Your King

By this stage, the queen on f3 has got into the best position, but she can’t deliver checkmate on her own. It is time to bring your king into the position. This takes time, but there is a simple systematic way to do this, shown below:

Pattern #2 : Whenever the enemy king blocks his pawn, use this tempo to move your king closer to the action.

61. Kc2 Kh2 62. Qf2 Kh1 63. Qh4+ Kg1 The black king blocks the path, so what should you do?

64. Kd2! Move your king into position! Kf1 65. Qf4+ Kg1 The black king is blocking his pawn, how do we continue?

66. Ke2 Moving our king closer to the enemy king, to support the queen. Remember that a queen supported by another piece can checkmate the lone king on the 2nd rank (or 2nd file). This is why we have to bring our king in. I play some unnecessary moves here, but they don’t hurt. If you are short on time, repeating the position once or twice (not 3 times! = drawn) can buy you precious time to find the win. Kh1 67. Qh4+ Kg1 68. Qg3 (68. Kf3! is a quicker way to win … Kf1 69. Qf2#) Kh1 69. Qh3+ (69. Kf2 g1=Q 70. Qxg1#) Kg1 70. Qg3 Kh1 71. Qh4+ This position is the same as after 67. Qh4+ Kg1 72. Qg4 Kh1

73. Kf2! g1=Q+ (73…Kh2 74. Qxg2#) 74. Qxg1# 1-0

In summary, to beat the 7th rank pawn with a queen, you have to first of all get your queen close to the enemy king. Then you bring your king in, to support the queen. Once the two are nearby, then you can start to watch out for checkmates.

Simplifying the Endgame to Your Advantage

Now, if you understand that certain endgames are won or drawn, then it makes sense to see where you are heading in the late middlegame. If you can reach the position shown in diagram 1 then you know you have got the win in the bag, so all you have to do is simplify the position to get there.

Here is the same game, after I play 40. Kb4

In this position above, there is only 1 move that allows black to draw, and that is 40…g5 The idea of this is push the g-pawn down the board, and when it reaches g3, it will clear the way for black`s e-pawn. Meanwhile, white will try the simple plan of promoting the a-pawn. If you are interested in the actual sequence of moves, then here it is: 40…g5 41. Kc4 (41. Kxa4 loses to 41…g4 42. Kb4 g3 43. fxg3 Kxg3 44. a4 e3 and it is clear to see that black promotes first) 41…e3 42. fxe3 Kxe3 43. Kb4 g4 44. Kxa4 Kf2 45. Kb4 Kxg2 46. a4 Kf2 47. a5 g3 the race has begun 48. a6 g2 49. a7 g1=Q 50. a8=Q The race ended in a draw. Both sides promote on within one move of each other, and get a queen.

1 Tempo can Win You the Game

By tempo, I mean a single move. If you have an extra move (or tempo) then you can promote first and go on to win. If you miscalculate the number of moves it takes your opponent to promote, and the number of moves for you to promote, then you can end up entering a losing variation. What you should do is calculate as deeply as you can in concrete endgame positions. There are few pieces on the board, so this task should be relatively easy.

In the game, my opponent did not find the drawing move, and played a losing move.

40…e3?? 41. fxe3+ Kxe3 42. Kxa4 Kf2 43. Kb3 Kxg2 44. a4 Kf2 45. a5 g5 46. a6 g4 47. a7 g3 48. a8=Q g2

Here we are, back at diagram 1, I trust you know how to win the game from here!


8 thoughts on “Closing The Gap – Queen versus 7th Rank Pawn Endgame”

  1. Hey there! How are you? I really enjoy articles on chess as I’m a chess player and I compete regionally in my country. I’m aware of most of the moves but I never came across this particular strategy/tactic. I just can’t wait to try it. I’m aware of moves like “Check mate in 3-5 moves” and stuff like that but never heard of this before. 

    1. This endgame is always a win for the player with the queen, with correct play, because you can repeat a recurring pattern, which allows your king to get closer and closer. Eventually you win the pawn. Just be careful that it isn’t stalemate when you do this! 

      Do you have a FIDE grade?

  2. This is a great article because it provides strategies to make sure you improve your game performance. I remember playing chess when I was younger and I had this friend that would destroy me in a few moves. He never taught me the tricks but I always told him that I was going to win one day 🙂 No luck since then by the way.

    There is no doubt that using the Queen the right way can win matches day and night. Thank you for sharing!

    1. If you really want to improve at chess, the best thing that you can do is start to solve tactics puzzles on a regular basis. These tactics decide the games played between beginners, and by cutting out blunders, you won’t lose vast amounts of material. If you want further advice about improving, let me know.

  3. Wow , you mke it sounds so easy, it is too advanced but I have been going back to your previous posts and read about the strategy about how to play chess. To be honest, I have never played it before, might have know how to one point in my life but forgot all about it. Any suggestion on where to start? 

    1. Yes. The first place to start is to ensure that you know all of the rules of the game perfectly, and the objective of the game. My post:… covers the basics. I would recommend going through the beginner course, so you understand all of the basics. Let me know if you need any help.

  4. I am so happy to have found your site.

    I have always wanted to play chess, but have never really got round to it, but having read through your post I can see that your instructions are clear and easy to follow, and they are beautifully and clearly laid out. I’m afraid that my knowledge of chess is restricted to the names of the pieces and the moves which they may make!

    So even though this particular lesson is way too advanced for me at present, you have inspired me to definitely go through your Beginner’s course and eveally learn to play chess at long last. And I can see that with your help I will be able to get really good at it.

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to take up this fascinating game.

    Chrissie 🙂

    1. I am glad that your interest of the game has been rekindled. 

      Don’t forget that every grandmaster was once a beginner. If you persist, and play regularly you may well become a strong player. Please let me know if you have any questions about the content covered.

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