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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Endgame Improvement (Read 39000 times)
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #60 - 08/21/17 at 07:59:39
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There really are a lot of ways one can study the endgame. Rene's method of asking questions (why this move? why not that move?) is one of the most effective, and not just for endgame study.

Regarding the initial question, I think a common reason for a weak endgame is a lack of practice. In the OP's case it was that he was usually winning before the endgame and hadn't built up the necessary experience to adjust from 'middlegame mode' to 'endgame mode', but you could also take the case of young players who fall into the habit of offering a draw because they find the endgame boring or don't have any idea how to win.

For that reason, playing out the Chess.com endgame drills would be a logical step - I know it helped me in this area.

If one is still stuck in the endgame after following some of the suggestions in this thread, it may be that you are overcomplicating things. Then I can suggest a simple approach:

Is the endgame dynamic or strategic?

If it's strategic, the priorities are:

- Piece activity
- Creating/fixing/liquidating weaknesses. Note that a passed pawn of ours counts as weakness for the opponent, as they will have to place a piece to stop our pawn queening.
- Stopping the opponent's counterplay
- Exchanging (if you think the more simplified position is winning)

If it's dynamic, then concrete calculation is the most important, so we may add the following:

- Forcing tries
- Pushing/creating passed pawns
- King safety (if there's more than 8 pawns worth of non-pawn material on the board)
- Prophylaxis (anticipating the most unpleasant idea of the opponent)

  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #59 - 07/30/17 at 19:26:20
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ErictheRed wrote on 07/28/17 at 17:11:49:
One thing about studying technical endgames, and K + Pawn studies, is that after doing that for a while, I always feel a great clarity of thought come over my play.  I "see" things better in all phases of the game, solve tactical problems better, can calculate better, etc.  I'm really in the pro-endgame camp, personally.

Thanks guys, have read people discussing the kind of crossover you both write about and which ErictheRed illustrates so well in the above quote.  With my poor memory I've no illusions but am hopeful that along with improving my endgame there might be a little of this as well. =)
  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #58 - 07/29/17 at 11:17:45
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I didn't do solitaire chess with them, but what I did do was annotate them. I wrote in the book every question I had and  investigated without a computer  until I had the answer, which I wrote down next to it. What's the point of this move? What if x.... But why not y?

This worked for me. Plus when I reread the book I can see what I was thinking and how far I've come (what was a question then is obvious now).
« Last Edit: 07/29/17 at 14:58:13 by ReneDescartes »  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #57 - 07/28/17 at 17:11:49
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One thing about studying technical endgames, and K + Pawn studies, is that after doing that for a while, I always feel a great clarity of thought come over my play.  I "see" things better in all phases of the game, solve tactical problems better, can calculate better, etc.  I'm really in the pro-endgame camp, personally. 

There's a huge difference between reading an endgame book and actually training, though.  I think that this is a big problem with chess improvement in general; it's easy to just read through a book but not do much work on your own, then wonder why you didn't actually improve.  There are a few highly technical positions that you need to just learn/memorize (Lucena's position, Philidor's, various K vs. K+P, etc), but for the most part you should be viewing every new position as one that you've arrived at in a game and try to solve it for yourself before looking at whatever your author says.  It takes a long time, but that's the only way to ensure that you'll actually improve.
  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #56 - 07/28/17 at 15:43:56
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You won't regret it. You become unafraid of simplifying; you become sensitive to the lurking endgame even as you pursue middlegame plans; your attack need not be pursued to mate but can be dissolved into a won ending that untrained players just wouldn't win. And you leave many opponents who thought they were as good as you or better wondering what happened to their wins or draws.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #55 - 07/19/17 at 18:38:27
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ReneDescartes wrote on 12/30/13 at 20:09:36:
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.


Thanks a bunch for sharing this, have wanted to spend some time doing an earnest but practical study of endgames and like this idea very much, plus all three books are highly recommended and available!


  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #54 - 08/02/14 at 11:28:55
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My latest blogarticle discusses practical endgames: http://chess-brabo.blogspot.be/2014/08/practical-endgames.html
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #53 - 06/27/14 at 12:09:08
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MartinC wrote on 06/26/14 at 09:01:58:
I have to say that my impression of 'pure' B&B vs R endings is that the poor rook gets totally outgunned, so I'd have stayed well clear of anything like that on principle.

That was my point of view too before I fell into this in the game and reached the BB vs RPP ending. Now I would go for it, in this case on the rook side.

The additional point for training endgames is analogous to the discussion about starting to learn to play open positions. You cannot avoid endgames if your opponent plays appropriate.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #52 - 06/26/14 at 09:01:58
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In answer to the question about endgame study - any concentrated sort of study on chess (where you put in effort!) is good.

Endgame study is probably a good way to train pure calculation as the positions are often clean enough to really get a long way into, and to punish minor innacuracies quite hard. That all gets much less clear in most sorts of middlegames.

We're having a gently amused/pointlessly pedantic debate about the given position just because we're not sure if it really relates to endgames rather than something else Smiley I have to say that my impression of 'pure' B&B vs R endings is that the poor rook gets totally outgunned, so I'd have stayed well clear of anything like that on principle.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #51 - 06/26/14 at 08:11:08
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baeron wrote on 06/25/14 at 12:36:49:
Jupp53 wrote on 06/25/14 at 12:02:44:
Exchanging one pair of rooks this is an endgame for me with middlegame elements. But maybe this is one of my weaknesses to judge it this way. After the exchange of the rooks white forced the queen exchange, which lead to an endgame r+2p vs 2B.

The road to an endgame is often a small one. That's what I wanted to say and the game position has to do with different choices.

But in this case, are you sure that the lack of endgame knowledge was really the reason you exchanged rooks in this position? In other words, did you aim for the 2B vs R+2P endgame, or did you not foresee that white could also force the swapping of queens? Was Rab8 one of your candidate moves?
I agree with brabo that to me this looks more like a middlegame problem. As I said, I don't know much about these endgames apart from the very vague fact, that I've always suffered with a rook against the bishop pair. I'd have no firm idea how to try and use those two pawns extra to my advantage. But to me, even this vague idea is enough for me do decide that if possible I'd try to keep the heavies on board for a long as possible. That's by the way not saying that I would have found Rb8...

What were your feelings during the game once you found out that this endgame would certainly arise (after the exchange of Q's)?


At first I could not judge the position. Exchanging rooks was a wrong positional decision. Rb8 would have been more active but I didn't see it this way. Then I overlooked the Qa4-g4 manoeuvre white played. Both players misjudged the resulting position as better for white. Indeed it was better for black. So my feelings were fighting for a draw and activate the rook and defend the pawn. Indeed I should have used the pawns more active.

Having analyzed this with my trainer four hours I can tell that all my weaknesses came out. The endgame weakness was not the only one, but  in this case decisive.

And - if I had analyzed this only all by myself I wouldn't have detected this. I would have searched in the opening and the early middlegame for the reasons of the defeat.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #50 - 06/25/14 at 16:48:01
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As an weak player I get confused. The main question is still: Is endgame study waste of time or not?

I think doing endgame study and execises will improve your visualization and calculating ability. And not necessarily only the technique of delivering mate. Those players which have reach 2000+ has learned this in other ways. But will endgame study be a shortcut or tardy route?

I still have hard to belief that Capablanca and Tarrasch were wrong.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #49 - 06/25/14 at 12:51:59
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MartinC wrote on 06/25/14 at 12:31:21:
Even thinking of swapping rooks as black does look strange though


actually 1...Rxa3 2.Qxa3 f5 is the first line that popped into my mind, although it doesn't take too long to see it's not good Smiley
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #48 - 06/25/14 at 12:36:49
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Jupp53 wrote on 06/25/14 at 12:02:44:
Exchanging one pair of rooks this is an endgame for me with middlegame elements. But maybe this is one of my weaknesses to judge it this way. After the exchange of the rooks white forced the queen exchange, which lead to an endgame r+2p vs 2B.

The road to an endgame is often a small one. That's what I wanted to say and the game position has to do with different choices.

But in this case, are you sure that the lack of endgame knowledge was really the reason you exchanged rooks in this position? In other words, did you aim for the 2B vs R+2P endgame, or did you not foresee that white could also force the swapping of queens? Was Rab8 one of your candidate moves?
I agree with brabo that to me this looks more like a middlegame problem. As I said, I don't know much about these endgames apart from the very vague fact, that I've always suffered with a rook against the bishop pair. I'd have no firm idea how to try and use those two pawns extra to my advantage. But to me, even this vague idea is enough for me do decide that if possible I'd try to keep the heavies on board for a long as possible. That's by the way not saying that I would have found Rb8...

What were your feelings during the game once you found out that this endgame would certainly arise (after the exchange of Q's)?
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #47 - 06/25/14 at 12:31:21
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Semi endgame by the time you lose one pair of rooks.

Even thinking of swapping rooks as black does look strange though, because Rb8,b5,c5,b4 etc is just so automatic.
(and I'd presume strong too.).

White's rook on a3 is hardly very well placed Smiley
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #46 - 06/25/14 at 12:02:44
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Exchanging one pair of rooks this is an endgame for me with middlegame elements. But maybe this is one of my weaknesses to judge it this way. After the exchange of the rooks white forced the queen exchange, which lead to an endgame r+2p vs 2B.

The road to an endgame is often a small one. That's what I wanted to say and the game position has to do with different choices.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #45 - 06/25/14 at 10:52:19
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Jupp, the position which you show is still a middlegame for me (with or without exchanging the rooks). In fact I am sure you can look to any endgame-book and you won't find a position even a bit resembling to what you are showing. So I don't believe that via studying endgames that you will make the right decision in such kind of position.

B.t.w. with the open white king and blacks heavy pieces still on the board how can one think that white is ever better.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #44 - 06/25/14 at 10:33:01
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It's not about a holy grail.

When I started with a trainer he first told me how to think and asked me to train tactics. Now he repeating that tactics each day is the daily fitness of a chess player and in each game he tells me something about my holey endgame knowledge.

Take the following position. White is nearly 2200. Black is about 1950.

* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
*

It's black to move. Both players thought white is better and black played 1... RXR? with an about equal position. After 1... Rb8 it's black having the better chances. At least this mistake came from a lack of basic endgame knowledge (and experience, because having avoided always positions with unequal material) about the endgame Rook + 2Pawns vs. 2 bishops.

If I were happy with my level of play I would continue as before and staying there. But so I know studying endgames has to be my next step.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #43 - 06/25/14 at 09:24:56
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Ah, at long last a topic I'm fully qualified to comment on, if only for the fact that both my national and international rating is just a few points below 2100.

I only know very, very little about endgames. Yes, I've played through Philidor, Lucena, Vancura et al at some point in my "career", but I've forgotten it all almost instantly. I could probably not mate with KNB, certainly not within 50 moves. I've "read" Shereshevsky, tried to solve some of Müller's exercises every now and then, but basically I have no clue. But then again, I do not have a clue about openings, strategy and tactics either. My calculation is wretched, I drop pieces left right and center. I am most definitely not a hacker. I commit positional mistakes that make grandmasters faint, at times my pieces threaten me with a strike, unless I start treating them better. And yet, I somehow managed to keep my level around 2050-2100 for the last 15-20 years. And this is only thanks to my opponents, whose holes in their game are obviously just as big as mine.
Yes, I do get outplayed in the endgame every now and then. But miraculously, I even sometimes win in the endgame. And yes, I do sometimes drop a half point on account of not remembering a technical position (I can recall a case of R+f+h vs R). But this happens exceedingly rare. The vast majority of my games are decided in the middlegame, even if some games then spill over in a not very exciting endgame.
Now, you tell me that it's easier to play the middlegame while knowing what to look for in endings. That's true. But, it'd also be easier to play the middle game while knowing where the pieces belong, what pawn strutures to aim for or avoid, how to secure outposts, which pieces to exchange and so on. And preferrably not dropping a piece in the process.
When I land in an endgame I just try to get by as good as I can, i.e. play "normal" chess, trying to understand what my opponent wants, what I may want, how to get there. Sure, studying  the endgame deeply would yield results. But studying pawn structures, common plans, combinations and - yes, there I said it - even openings might just about yield as much.
So basically I agree to some extent with JohnG: every serious study of chess is beneficial. But at 2100, it is not immediately logical to me that endings - especially technical ones that I forget within two days - are the (one) holy grail to improvement.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #42 - 06/25/14 at 08:47:16
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Agree with Bibs, I think you can do almost anything you like and reach the same goal (say the 2100 mark) through various different routes (e.g. I know many people that have not really studied any openings and still play at that level). So if the question is strictly if you could do it without endgame study, then yes most probably you could do it.

Then if we want to address this subject from the practical point of view, it usually pays more to study first the areas where there lie your weaknesses.
Maybe off-topic but a fun to read and in a way enlightening book for me was Khmelnitsky's Chess Exam (you take the exam and it pinpoints your strenghts & weaknesses, plus some advice on how to work on them).
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #41 - 06/25/14 at 04:22:22
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JohnG wrote on 06/25/14 at 01:09:16:
I agree that:
  • Endgame study is more beneficial to one's game than e.g. watching TV.
  • Some of the benefits of studying theoretical positions manifest themselves in non-theoretical positions.
  • Endgame study can be fun.


But with all that understood I am interested in another question: will not knowing these endgames act as a deal-breaker? Will someone who is otherwise quite strong fail to make, say, 2100 because he does not know these positions? You provide some very good arguments in the abstract, but my experience is that many players do indeed reach 2100 without knowing a Lucena from a Philidor (hmm arguing reason vs. experience with Descartes Roll Eyes ). I also know players rated well below 2000 who know a good range of theoretical endings. Of course, these players would be worse off not knowing the endgames with all else equal, but they would be much better off having invested the same time in studying tactics and game collections.


You can get to 2100 without knowing much in detail about anything really. But it does not make it advisable to omit key areas of study. Lucena and Philidor - these are elementary and should be learnt very early.
You will win a number of games by just hacking, as lots of players cannot defend. But if you are hapless at endgames, that will certainly hold you back.
I fail to understand this line of questioning. What remains confusing?

Study the basic endgames.
Study GM games.
Study tactics.
Study some openings.

And you will do better.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #40 - 06/25/14 at 01:09:16
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I agree that:
  • Endgame study is more beneficial to one's game than e.g. watching TV.
  • Some of the benefits of studying theoretical positions manifest themselves in non-theoretical positions.
  • Endgame study can be fun.


But with all that understood I am interested in another question: will not knowing these endgames act as a deal-breaker? Will someone who is otherwise quite strong fail to make, say, 2100 because he does not know these positions? You provide some very good arguments in the abstract, but my experience is that many players do indeed reach 2100 without knowing a Lucena from a Philidor (hmm arguing reason vs. experience with Descartes Roll Eyes ). I also know players rated well below 2000 who know a good range of theoretical endings. Of course, these players would be worse off not knowing the endgames with all else equal, but they would be much better off having invested the same time in studying tactics and game collections.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #39 - 06/24/14 at 23:31:32
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OK, I think John is missing the point here.

1) Your entire game, including the opening, becomes much stronger if you understand the implications of the simplifications that could occur.  If you know that simplifying in x way is a draw and simplyifying in y way is a win, you have a very powerful weapon at your disposal. You can steer actively toward certain positions, and if your opponent doesn't know what you're doing, it's almost unfair. I'm sure you can already head toward opposite-color bishop endings to try to a draw. Probably you can sacrifice to achieve a wrong-color bishop vs. rook pawn ending for the same purpose. Well, the more positions you know, the more of this sort of thing you can do. Knowledge is power.

3) Standard endgame positions are not isolated after the fashion of deep theoretical opening positions. That is the beauty of endgame theory--the game evolves toward, not away from, the positions in question. The Lucena position, for example, is not a freak occurrence. If your king is ahead of your pawn and your rook behind it, then you can consciously force many, many rook endings into a Lucena. If you don't know how to play a Lucena, you will be thrashing about aimlessly instead and winning by accident if at all.

4) The methods used in the standard theoretical positions are of use in many other positions. By studying standard positions, you become proficient at deploying the technical resources available in endgames. Body-checking, bridge-building (with the bishop as well), endless rains of checks, corresponding squares in a trebuchet, checking distance of three squares' separation, losing a tempo--such motifs, which you can only get a clear idea of by studying exact technical positions, occur over and over in other positions. Although largely confined to the endgame, they are very much analagous to tactics in their general applicability there. After I studied technical endgames I became much stronger at strategic endgames as well.

5) If your tactical understanding gets too far ahead of your endgame understanding, then your game will suffer as surely as it would the other way around. Endgame study will pay off at least as well as extra tactical study for someone strong who knows relatively little of it. Do you really want your weakness to be inability to finish?

This discussion reminds me of the composer Roger Sessions' comment that the better a composer's classical training and technical skill, the more respect he will have for Bach and for what the composer gained by studying Bach. Endgames are not inessential, period. Capablanca and Tarrasch were not wrong or being snobs when they began their books with the endgame.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #38 - 06/11/14 at 21:53:06
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A couple thoughts:
Many theoretical endgame ideas are simple and can be learned for life in a matter of minutes.  You get a lot of bang for your buck, just like with stock middlegame patterns like the Bxh7 sacrifice, Anastasia's mate, trapping a greedy queen (e.g. Qb6-a3-Qxb2-Na4), stock knight forks (Qxd5-QxQ-Nc7+ or Qc6-Bb5-QxB-Nc7+), etc.

There are stock endgame patterns that I think any 2100 player should have in his/her pocket just like the above stock middlegame/opening patterns.  It seems arbitrary to downgrade their importance because they occur in the "endgame", which is itself an arbitrary category.

Examples of stock endgame patterns that can be learned cold in <15 minutes each: passive back-rank defense works in R vs R+P against a rook or knight pawn; knowing when B + rook-pawn is a draw or win; B vs R draws simply in two of the corners; Q vs P draws with pawn on B7 or R7 if other king far away; using the "square" to determine if a king will catch a runaway pawn; K+P vs K; etc.  Lucena and Philidor are also in this category.

Of course, it is easy to attack a straw man.  Obviously almost everyone should ignore complicated endgame theory: e.g., mating with two knights against a pawn or the niceties of R+BP+RP vs. R (all I know is to put the defending rook in the far back corner and play harassing checks).  Learning stock endgame patterns/ideas is no different than learning stock middlegame patterns/ideas-- why would it be?

I would start with Pandolfini's Endgame Course for theoretical endgames (i.e., the Fireside book, not the tan "Workshop" book for Russell which I do not recommend).  Other worthy books that (I believe) helped me are Averbakh's Essential Endgame Knowledge and the endgame chapter in Tarrasch's green "Chess" book. 

This post strictly deals with theoretical or technical knowledge rather than EG strategy.  Just my opinion.  Fortunately i am not a "strong player" so my opinion should be worth a lot! Grin
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #37 - 06/11/14 at 21:15:29
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fling wrote on 06/11/14 at 19:58:27:
Well, I would say that with what you just posted, the only thing essential to study would be part of the rules, e.g. having the cell-phone off, how the pieces move etc. Or what else do you consider essential?


Some understanding of tactics and strategy.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #36 - 06/11/14 at 19:58:27
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Well, I would say that with what you just posted, the only thing essential to study would be part of the rules, e.g. having the cell-phone off, how the pieces move etc. Or what else do you consider essential?
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #35 - 06/11/14 at 19:20:44
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It may be that I'm doing a poor job of articulating my position, but in any case I think people are misunderstanding me. I agree that studying endgames yields tangible benefits. I agree that you will lose rating points if you don't study them. The same can be said of all forms of chess study. I am making a distinction between things that it is beneficial to study and things that it is essential to study. 99% of endgame theory falls into the former rather than the latter category in my opinion.

There are plenty of 2100 players who know little or nothing about endgame theory. There really is no such thing as a 2100 player who knows nothing about tactics. That is my only point.

  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #34 - 06/11/14 at 15:40:12
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I have to disagree as well

I'm a 2100 player and honestly don't remember the last time I had to show that I knew KQ vs K or KR v K. Maybe it could be argued that these are only essential at a lower level Smiley If Carlsen forgot how to mate with K+R (absurd as the idea is) no-one would ever know.

As for K+P endings, Lucena, Philidor and other basic techniques - if I didn't know these I can think of many recent games where I could potentially have lost rating.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #33 - 06/11/14 at 15:37:40
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When I was rated 1899, I played in a five round tournament. At the end of four rounds, three players had 4 points and one had 3.5 points. The players with perfect scores were rated ~2250, ~1950, and myself. I was paired against the master while the other "A" player was paired against the master with 3.5 points (I think there that's how the colors worked out).

Both games went into the endgame, and amazingly, both games saw the lower rated player reach the winning side of a Lucena position. I knew how to perform it while the other A player did not. I ended up winning the tournament outright because of that single bit of knowledge.

I know, the chances of such a thing happening are extremely small, but it did happen. The story was written about in the state chess news magazine (they had such things back then).

My rating went from 1899 to 2001 in a single event.

So yes, learning specifics such as the Lucena position can have direct, tangible benefits. Not knowing that information cost at least one A player financially and in terms of ratings. I know that my endgame knowledge has saved many lost games and won games that would otherwise have been drawn. Many times, I aim for endgames that my opponents were not aware were won or drawn before we reached them.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #32 - 06/11/14 at 15:15:50
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I certainly wasn't saying that endgame study would have no effect of improving one's game. You will benefit from any time you spend studying concrete positions or games in a serious way. However, there is a difference between some form of study being beneficial and it being essential. For example, I cannot imagine a 2100 player having the tactical ability of a 1400 player. By the time you are that weak with tactics (routinely missing simple knight forks and such) you simply aren't going to be 2100. My point is just that almost no knowledge of theoretical endgames is quite that essential. Knowing K+Q vs. K and K+R vs. K is probably absolutely necessary. Knowledge of theoretical endgames beyond those will be beneficial, and acquiring it can be quite a lot of fun, but I don't believe that anything more is essential. In other words, not knowing K+P vs. K, Lucena, or Philidor will not act as a deal-breaker for reaching 2100.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #31 - 06/11/14 at 08:08:38
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Also adds confidence in other areas of the game, e.g. playing attacks or gambits or playing it safe, etc. knowing that you get another shot in the endgame if things go wrong.

Lastly, you may also reconsider playing some openings discarded in the past because of an annoying endgamish line (e.g. 'exchange variation' in various openings).
  

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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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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.
  

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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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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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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.
  

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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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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.
  

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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).
  

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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.
  

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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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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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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #15 - 05/04/08 at 08:56:44
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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.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #14 - 04/14/08 at 04:47:09
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Read Silman's Endgame Course for a thorough grounding on the basics of endings, possibly coupled with "Just the Facts" by Lev Alburt. If you know everything in these books, you will then be able to move on to more complicated endgame manuscripts.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #13 - 04/07/08 at 20:51:20
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Quote:
But not everyone plays like Garry..)


Fernando, what do you mean ? It' s not like he's got a wand, he's just pushing wood like the rest of us !
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #12 - 04/07/08 at 18:44:17
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OK, I would recommend Silman's Complete Endgame Course and then as a second source I suggest Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual. But latter you should study slowly and carefully. It is not a book for a week or two.
And if you want something for start then simply try Starting Out Series. There are 3 books released till now - SO Pawn endgames, SO rook endgames and SO minor poece endgames. I read SO rook endgames (even I am more advanced) and it is very nice. Now reading So minor piece Edngames and it is also worth considering.

Regards
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #11 - 01/09/08 at 17:21:56
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I'd recommend Mednis' Rate Your Endgame as the absolute best book for you.  It's along the lines of Shereshevsky's book, in the sense of what it covers, but the explanations are much better and it shouldn't be over your head (Shereshevsky can be a bit over my head, and I'm rated about 2120 USCF).

The best part of the book is that you take one side of an endgame, and then try to figure out the best move.  I realize this isn't a new approach, but it's ideally suited for the study of technical positions.  Mednis goes out of his way to explain why plausible looking moves are not good, which authors like Shereshevsky don't.  Also, I don't think there's a better way to actually improve your play than by practicing playing.  You can gain all the knowledge in the world, but you need to practice putting that knowledge to use, calculating variations, weighing up which of two continuations is better, etc.  I think if you honestly want to improve your practical play, there's no better book than Rate Your Endgame (unless you're 2300+ maybe).

Some of the positions in Mednis' book are quite complicated, too, but they're explained much better than in Shereshevsky's book.  Shereshevsky is more "learn by osmosis", so I'd recommend doing that one after Mednis' book.

Edit: if you don't know any theoretical positions at all, then I think Averbakh's short book on endgame basics (forget the name) is really all you need in this area, and you can get through it quickly and then get on to other books.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #10 - 01/08/08 at 21:25:03
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Grandmaster Secrets: Endings by Andy Soltis.  It sounds like exactly what you need.


  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #9 - 01/08/08 at 20:47:02
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You can replace Maizelis with Karsten Muller Pawn Endings. It is 100 times better (edited and explained. Maizelis is a 1950's book)

it is possibly the best book on endings ever written.

If you don't know your endings really well, DON't get Dvoretskys... he assumes everyone is GM strength...)

(For example Garry Kasparov praised Dvoretsky's. But not everyone plays like Garry..)
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #8 - 01/08/08 at 20:43:36
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Sorry, but I utterly DISAGREE.

FIRST you need to know your theoretical positions. I learned those with Maizelis, Averbakh, Smyslov and Levenfish and Keres (excellent in his time).

THEN, you get shereshevsky and other excellent books (Exchanging to win in the endgame by Nesis another). These books don't make sense unless you know the theoretical positions.

Now you are a pretty strong endgame player. This study may take you a while, but I did it 20 years ago and the endgame is still my strongest area.. and THEORY DOESNOT CHANGE  Smiley Smiley
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #7 - 11/25/07 at 04:25:59
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Greetings,

Apart from the Shereshevsky book, I'd also recommend Lars Bo Hansen's "Secrets of Chess Endgame Strategy" - like the first book, it covers much the same ground starting from the (late) middle-game dealing with the decision to enter a endgame.

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Chess-Endgame-Strategy-College/dp/1904600441/ref=p...

As wonderful as Capablance was as a endgame virtuoso, the virtuoso was considered to be Akiba Rubinstein.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akiba_Rubinstein
http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4188

P.S. You will certainly enjoy van Perlo's book on Endgame Tactics - they hardly feel like endgames!

Kindest regards,

Dragan Glas
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #6 - 11/04/07 at 04:43:44
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If you want something that is going to give basic info so you are ready for more in depth works then get a book titled Easy Endgame Strategies. DOn't be fooled it is a very good basic work on the endgame.
  
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #5 - 10/30/07 at 16:53:02
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #4 - 10/30/07 at 11:50:38
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I have long had much the same problem. The "basic" and "fundamental" endgame books don't help that much when you don't have a feel for multi-piece endings. It seems some players get this naturally, but I'm definately not one of them! Anyway, in addition to the Shereshevsky book I want to recommend the two endgame books by Andrew Soltis: "Grandmaster Secrets: Endings" and "Turning Advantage into Victory in Chess".

I have actually seen some progress in my thinking process by adopting his methods, particularly his explanation of "Mismatches", Plans and "Endgame Mood". The one quibble I have with Soltis is that in his emphasis on how to think, he is a bit too eager to downplay the value of concrete theoretical knowledge. Ambitious players really should have good thinking methods AND good knowledge! Smiley
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #3 - 10/29/07 at 18:39:23
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I'll second Alias. Reading your post (and before even reaching to your 1-4 steps), I was thinking to recommend Shereshevsky's book. It deals exactly with your problem, i.e. firstly your mindset & secondly what lies there before the purely technical part of the endgame starts. It will also help you sometimes approaching the middlegame in a different way (e.g. schematic thinking or the 2 weaknesses/targets strategy).

A bit of a warning: This book seems a bit tough for your current level - but the ideas are easy to grasp & employ (I am planning to re-read it sometime in the future if I become a bit stronger in tactics and also in technical endgames).

A second suggestion: How is your positional play? If you manage to improve that part of your game, some late middlegames may become easier to follow. For that you can use a 'middlegame' book (e.g. Silman's Reassess your Chess) or your coach. But this is more of a positive spill-over effect than directly addressing the real problem.. (i.e. all in all get Shereshevsky  Smiley)
  

"I play honestly and I play to win. If I lose, I take my medicine." - Bobby
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Alias
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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #2 - 10/29/07 at 14:34:46
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Study Shereshevsky's "Endgame Strategy" carefully. Put is as number one. You can decide on further plans after reading that.
  

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Re: Endgame Improvement
Reply #1 - 10/29/07 at 09:21:33
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Flear's endgame books may be an idea. Iirc they are called "improving", "mastering" and "practical endgame play". The first 2 I have and they are good, the 3rd I think of buying.
These books have a different approach then most endgame books (esp mastering the endgame). Iso going through the typical endgame stuff he goes for one typical form (say r+2 vs r+1) and shows both the theory as well as how players do it in practice including his own mistakes. He also includes examples originating from the middle game.
  

If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.
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Endgame Improvement
10/29/07 at 08:27:11
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Hi.

I am the absolute worst endgame player you've ever heard of, and I need your help! I'm a 1900 USCF adult player who has improved mostly by tactical problems. Over the past year I've really improved my opening play with the help of a chess coach and now feel pretty comfortable with that phase of the game. I love, love, love to attack and sac material and up until the last 6-12 months didn't really have to care that my endgame was rubbish (never got there  Roll Eyes ). Now I'm regularly getting into even endgames or endgames where  I have a definite (but not winning) advantage. Then I lose over and over and over. All those great books that end lines with "The rest is simply a matter of technique" might as well say "Feel free to resign now, as you'll never win these positions".

It's not a matter of being unfamiliar with endgame theory (at least what I understand to be necessary for my level). I've studied Silman, Just the Facts, Pandolfini's endgame book and bits and pieces of Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual. I'm perfectly happy to demonstrate K+N+B v K or any of the basic R+P v R positions or even more complicated rook endgames. I know these sorts of problems by heart. K+P endgames? Not a problem. Theoretically won or drawn positions that I can quiz myself on and practice vs fritz are not a problem at all. I can't claim to know all the nuances of these, but once I get to where I can calculate into one of these position, I rarely have a problem. My problem is the late (queenless) middle game to early endgame where I have to devise a plan to improve upon my position. So here's the plan I have devised. Let me know if there are major improvements that I can make:

1. Excelling at Technical Chess - I'm reading through this without a board to understand the main ideas and following the variations as well as I can blindfold.
2. Capa's Best Chess Endgins - Read once I've finished my first quick read through of Aagaard's book.
3. Chess Strategy by Shereshevsky - Carefully study after Capa's book.
4. Here I want to read through a good self-anotated book by an endgame master really paying attention to the endgame play (Rubinstein, Karpov, Korchnoi, Botvinnik maybe?)

Then decide where to go from here. Perhaps I'll have a good enough feel for the way to plan in the endgame that I'll be able to go back and learn more of the theoretical concepts. I'm about 2/3 thorugh Aagaard's book right now and I realize that I have failed frequently because I try to play the endgame the same way I play the middlegame. Apparently dynamics aren't nearly as important! Who knew?
  
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