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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Endgame Improvement (Read 40661 times)
ReneDescartes
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #30 - 06/10/14 at 18:52:28
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Back in the day I studied three good introductory technical endgame books in one summer, including Averbakh's slim volume Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge, and when I returned I immediately started beating the endgame c*** out of an opponent otherwise much stronger than me. Since a substantial percentage of games wind up as endgames, and since in addition you can steer games into the endgame (and into certain endgames!) voluntarily, I would be surprised if serious endgame work did not have a huge effect on your game.
  
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JohnG
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #29 - 05/31/14 at 15:14:20
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I am not sure to what extent it is a good idea to trust the advice of strong players. The problem is that many players improve without having a good sense of why they improved. The result is that you get all sorts of terrible advice about improvement.

For example, it is a common phenomenon that a player will spend time on x, get nowhere, spend time on y, get nowhere, and then spend time on z with great results. The player, being human, will mistakenly believe that only z can have possibly benefited him. In fact, the effects of x and y, lying dormant and waiting to be activated by additional knowledge, may also be important. A simple example is Michael de la Maza. He spent time on traditional things like positional play, endgames etc. and got nowhere. Then he studied tactics and made progress. What he failed to consider was the possibility that a player who skipped the other stuff and went straight to tactics might not get the same results.

So I am less interested in hearing what strong players believe helped them and more interested in finding out exactly what they did, setting aside any of their own judgement as to which parts were important. I see many players make progress without studying endgames at all. Everyone likes to give the advice to study endgames because it sounds good, but I don't see much evidence that learning endgames is very important below a certain level.

Of course, to be clear, studying endgames must have some marginal benefit. If you are deciding whether to study endgames or watch TV you will obviously gain more chess strength from the former activity. Furthermore, my own observations of chess players have lead me to believe that the really important distinction that affects chess strength is not between more and less efficient paths to improvement, but between more and less time and energy invested. Good players love the game and are always finding reasons to study and play. Weak players are armed with endless reasons not to study or play* ("not enough time," "no good local tournaments," "not in good form," "opening theory unimportant," "those endgames won't ever come up in practice anyway," "Capablanca didn't play my opening repertoire so his games won't help me" etc.). Pretty soon they are just reading blogs and not studying anything of much substance. Strong players play a lot and study tons of things, often quite haphazardly and inefficiently, but with a lot of passion, drive, and curiosity. So try to find something you are excited about and start working. Don't worry about endgames unless you enjoy them (okay, maybe KQ vs. K is essential, but I assume anyone here knows that one).

*There is more to life than chess, of course, and some of these excuses may just be healthy attitudes about the relative importance of chess.
  

"The move is the idea." -John Watson
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #28 - 05/31/14 at 14:01:00
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I guess that depends. Do you want to remain a low rated player, or do you aspire to become a master?

The masters aren't always right, and they do disagree with each other on many things. But they are close to unanimous in arguing that players need to learn to play the endgame, many stating that learning the endgame is more important than the many hours most class players spend on the opening.

They may disagree slightly about which endgames are most important, but pretty much all masters show basic mates then go on to pawn endgames. Pawn endgames are fantastic for learning more than just the pawn endgames, they also are excellent for teaching how to calculate without moving the pieces.

  
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msiipola
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #27 - 05/31/14 at 06:52:43
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If you want to learn something from (chess) books, you have to trust the author.

Some says Silman's endgame course book is not good because, it does not include some types of endings.

Others say endgame study is almost worthless for class players. Tarrasch had a different opinion on that.

Should I, a low rated class player, trust the masters or not?
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #26 - 05/19/14 at 07:46:21
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JohnG wrote on 05/18/14 at 14:54:13:
msiipola wrote on 05/18/14 at 05:51:01:
MilenPetrov wrote on 04/07/08 at 18:44:17:
OK, I would recommend Silman's Complete Endgame Course and then as a second source I suggest Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.


The Silman book covers all levels up to Master. If you like Silman's writing style, do you really need any other end game book? What's missing in his book?


  • BN vs. K
  • R vs. PP
  • NP vs. N
  • NP vs. B
  • BP vs. N
  • Any mention of key squares in KP vs. K


I wrote a more in depth review recently on Amazon. Look for two star reviews (it's probably bad etiquette to link in one's first post). I recommend 100 Endgames You Must Know by de la Villa as the best book for most players. Does a good job of being a serious book without straying into excessively esoteric material.


I was the one writing the other 2 star review (though not as well put as yours).
  

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JohnG
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #25 - 05/18/14 at 18:53:08
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I couldn't find any mention of even the most basic ideas in R v PP when I looked. Maybe the material is there and I missed it. It is also possible that this has changed in later editions. I would be happy to be corrected by someone who owns the latest version of the book.
  

"The move is the idea." -John Watson
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #24 - 05/18/14 at 18:10:57
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So he doesn't even mention "two connected pawns on the 6th beat a rook"? If that's true, I agree it's strange. But a club player doesn't need to know more than the rule itself and possible be aware that there are some exceptions with checks/mating threats.
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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JohnG
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #23 - 05/18/14 at 16:47:25
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Is this position (with either side to move) so hard to understand? Unimportant for a club player? I have trouble believing that.
  

"The move is the idea." -John Watson
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #22 - 05/18/14 at 15:49:59
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JohnG wrote on 05/18/14 at 14:54:13:
  • BN vs. K
  • R vs. PP
  • NP vs. N
  • NP vs. B
  • BP vs. N
  • Any mention of key squares in KP vs. K



I agree on key squares and on the "rule of the square" mentioned in your Amazon review. The usefulness of the others for class players is very much debatable. I more-or-less know BN vs K because it's become such a clichéd test of endgame knowledge, but never had it in a tournament game. I know next to nothing about the others you list, and my technincal endgame knowledge is roughly average for my level (2100). A case could be made that all the endgames Silman does cover are more important in practice.

"The best chess book is the one you actually study" some wise person wrote on this forum. Many amateurs will actually be motivated to study this book by the innovative order and Silman's chatty style. And there are still a number of positions in it I must admit I haven't mastered.

But taste is very individual! I was surprised to find some of the (to me) most enlightening explanations of basic rook endings in that much-chastised "boring", "impractical" and "encyclopedic" work, Rook Endings by Averbakh and Kopaev (from the Comprehensive Chess Endings series).
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #21 - 05/18/14 at 15:24:24
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I found that Keres' Practical Chess Endings to be a good starting point. I worked through the book to learn the basic endings and then moved on to the more advanced texts mentioned above.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #20 - 05/18/14 at 14:54:13
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msiipola wrote on 05/18/14 at 05:51:01:
MilenPetrov wrote on 04/07/08 at 18:44:17:
OK, I would recommend Silman's Complete Endgame Course and then as a second source I suggest Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.


The Silman book covers all levels up to Master. If you like Silman's writing style, do you really need any other end game book? What's missing in his book?


  • BN vs. K
  • R vs. PP
  • NP vs. N
  • NP vs. B
  • BP vs. N
  • Any mention of key squares in KP vs. K


I wrote a more in depth review recently on Amazon. Look for two star reviews (it's probably bad etiquette to link in one's first post). I recommend 100 Endgames You Must Know by de la Villa as the best book for most players. Does a good job of being a serious book without straying into excessively esoteric material.
  

"The move is the idea." -John Watson
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msiipola
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #19 - 05/18/14 at 05:51:01
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MilenPetrov wrote on 04/07/08 at 18:44:17:
OK, I would recommend Silman's Complete Endgame Course and then as a second source I suggest Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.


The Silman book covers all levels up to Master. If you like Silman's writing style, do you really need any other end game book? What's missing in his book?
  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #18 - 12/30/13 at 20:09:36
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I'm definitely in the "learn technical endings first" camp. Years ago, I studied three basic technical endgame books at the same time, including Averbach's Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge.

Every time I have studied technical endings, my strategic endgame play has improved. This is partly, I think, because I know better which simplifications are threats; partly because most strategic endgame principles--active rook, active king, two weaknesses, centralized pieces,  threatening the right exchanges, etc.--are actually quite operative in technical endings; and partly because calculation  plays a role in almost every endgame, and technical endings train you to express your positional knowledge through calculation, though at times of a sort different from middlegame calculation.

The best book for studying technical endings is the book whose style you like best, the one whose explanations you understand and that keeps you motivated. Lots of books have a good selection of material including the absolute essentials plus a selection of very desirable semi-essentials. I found that using two or three books, with Averbach in the lead, gave me valuable multiple perspectives on the material.

Today if I were doing this I might use De La Villa (who writes a little like Capablanca) and Silman (who writes a little like Grouch Marx), with Averbach in the lead.
« Last Edit: 12/30/13 at 22:48:03 by ReneDescartes »  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #17 - 12/26/13 at 12:28:25
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Any Bel/Mikh best avoided.
Indeed Mikh particularly seems to produce dismal materials with some consistency.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #16 - 12/26/13 at 12:16:36
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Ivan wrote on 05/04/08 at 08:56:44:
What about "Tactical Chess Endings" by John Nunn and Beliavsky/Mikhalchishin's book on Endgame Strategy? They are both somewhat dated, but given that endgame theory does not change rapidly, I doubt that this is a serious concern.

I found at least one big error in the Beliavsky/Mikhalchisin book: the second exercise of rook endings 'What is correct: 1.Rd6 or 1.Re8+ ?' is losing for white, which can be easily checked with a tablebase, in fact their proposed solution (1.Re8+) loses faster than 1.Rd6
  
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