Monday, May 3, 2010


It occurred to me that there are more different endgame positions than there are openings positions, by a huge amount, and yet, endgames aren't popular with the chess public. There are all kinds of reasons why people feel that way but if you are to win more games, none of them stand up to scrutiny.

I have been going over Nigel Davies' book play the Catalan. There are endgames in it! There are allusions to how the upcoming endgame will be drawn or won IF this or that move is played. And these are recent games! So endgames are still being played. Sometimes that is the ONLY way to win.

To get a couple things out of the way: pawn endgames can be very difficult; Rook endgames are supposedly the most common. In general Q+N is better than Q+B. Routine stuff. Recently I got in two very FAT books on the endgame, one by Grivas and one by Flear. I wonder what I was thinking. I've had some interest but no sales yet. The Panchenko books on the endgame haven't sold yet either. I was optimistically "thinking" (if you want to call it that) that what is important to me about endgames are:
a) pattern recognition;
b) confirming the status of your current game position and your Elo ranking;
c) they are still necessary to know; and
d) satisfying when you can extricate yourself or find some cool win.

Going back to the first paragraph--I suspect many readers believe that there are TOO many endgame positions to know (of course there are!). On the other hand, I remember a Dzindzichashvili video where he said there are endgame positions strong players know are won or drawn long before they get there, and thus can plan on making it happen. Is that, or is it not, invaluable information?

One of the books I am throwing out in front of you is Glenn Flear's Practical Endgame Play--beyond the basics. The subtitle is very interesting: the definitive guide to the endgames that really matter. Wow! That's what all of us are after--definitiveness.

In John Nunn's recent book Understanding Chess Endgames he builds an edifice of 100 position types which are fundamental and intrinsic to many endgames. This book is positively worthwhile even though different from Grivas' basic book: Practical Endgame Play -- mastering the basics, the essential guide to endgame fundamentals. Davies' book on the Catalan SHOWS me I do have to know opening theory these days, which can be very cluttered. I wish I could JUST study the endgame.

Hey! Game 6 of the world championship is going on today. I've run into chess friends who didn't even know it was happening. Tells me two things: poor publicity AND they don't read this blog!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. [slightly edited from my previous comment]

    Hey! Game 6 of the world championship is going on today' and it had a very interesting endgame; one that I had never seen before, involving Queen, Rook and extra Pawn vs Queen, Rook, Knight and Pawns. The material deficit side but dynamically superior side eventually won an extra but had traded the rooks, which petered out the attack against the king, however there was still plenty of life in the position.

    It was eventually drawn but it was hair raising nonetheless. You see the side with the extra pawns (2) had a protected passed pawn on the sixth rank, which eventually (just the passed pawn) made it to seventh, tying down the knight and queen so they could perform their usual mating magic (which if you know endgames is the reason why Q+N is a force to reckoned with).

    You would think that the Queen and Pawn could negotiate some kind of attack however with a Pawn on the seventh being pushed by the Queen behind it, one or the other piece has to blockade. If the Knight blockades he can no longer attack the pawn, if the queen blockades she can attack the pawn but now the king is at the mercy of the opposing queen's check. Also there was not too much freedom of action else as the two remaining pawns for the superior side were very far apart and easy target for the Queen to captures with check.

    Still I am sure both sides needed to remember their endgames as to what would happen with Q+N vs Q+2P or Q+3P and other possible scenarios as well Q vs Q and various remaining pawns.

    In the end, however due to the new "fighting" spirit or just poor sportsmanship inspired by Topolov of no draw offers, the game continued until threefold repetition unfolded.

  3. So as not to edit my comment again: in the second full paragraph it should say 'so they could NOT perform their usual mating magic'.

    Great game check it out at


  4. So, is Glenn Flear's endgame book to be recommended ? or are the Nunn or Grivas book to be preferred ?