Category Archives: Endgames

Transposing Into Rook Endgames

Transposing into rook endgames when material up can be dangerous because there’s a tendency for them to be drawish. This is why my Dad thought for a long time before exchanging queens in this game.

The other interesting point is that he got his rook behind the passed d-pawn after which Black’s rook was forced to go to a very passive square.

Sam Davies

Botvinnik – Toran, Palma de Mallorca 1967

As with most of us my time is limited. My current chess practice involves solving Chessity daily tactics puzzles and following Nigel’s Endgame Course at his Tiger Chess website.

I was introduced to this excellent endgame through the course. This was instructive with regard to the importance of centralising the King. The move 22.Rxd5 kept the game alive.

Dan Staples

From Middlegame to Endgame

Kashdan vs Alekhine 1933, Black to Move

No great chess player complicates matters unless they find a simple solution. Alekhine was not an exception, White’s last move was Nb5 attacking the c7 pawn. Alekhine used little tactics to reach an endgame where his knight and passed pawn on the g-file are simply enough to win the game.

Here is the solution and the rest of the game.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Clever & Sneaky Defence from Smyslov

White exchanged into a pawn endgame here, thinking this had to be a win. But he missed Smyslov’s clever and sneaky defence with 45…hxg3 and 46…g4. White can even lose if he then moves his king across to attack Black’s queenside pawns.

Sam Davies

Advancing the Pawn without a Counterpart

My game below was played against the Metropolitan Police in New Scotland Yard which was a very interesting venue. The annotations are Nigel’s. The key things to take away for me were my risky Queen side castling and Nigel’s comments on my move 35.h4. He explained that 35.f4 was better and followed the ‘Capablanca rule’ in Chess Fundamentals that we should advance the pawn without a counterpart.

Dan Staples

The Centralized King

One thing I’ve been studying with my Dad lately is the power of the king in the endgame. This game is a very good example as Botvinnk’s centralized king made life very difficult for Black. It only needed a couple of tiny mistakes and he was lost.

Sam Davies

Saving A Draw

White was very resourceful in this endgame and saved a draw from a desperate looking position starting with the ingenious 77.a6!. Good defence is just as important as good attacking play.

Sam Davies

How Good is Your Endgame?

Many readers will be familiar with the popular magazine feature, known in various places as How Good is Your Chess? and Solitaire Chess, in which the reader is invited to predict the next move in a master game, and is awarded points for selecting good moves.

Some time ago I showed you a couple of lessons based on shorter and lower level games suitable for use at intermediate level (up to about 100 ECF/1500 Elo).

As part of the Chess for Heroes project, which I’ll come back to in more detail, quite possibly next week if nothing else interesting happens in my life in the meantime, I decided to produce a few lessons using king and pawn endings, with the games taken from the Richmond Junior Chess Club database.

Here’s the first one, which was tested successfully at RJCC the other day.

Set this position up on your board. At various points in the game you will be asked to select a move for either White or Black. Sometimes you will have three moves to choose from, and sometimes you will have a free choice. In this position it’s Black’s move.

If you find a winning move you’ll score up to 10 points. If you find a drawing move you’ll score up to 5 points. If you find a losing move or an illegal move you’ll score no points.

Choose a move for Black:
a) Kc6 b) Kd6 c) g5

10 points for Kd6 – head to the king side to attack White’s weak pawns
5 points for Kc6 – the wrong direction for the king
0 points for g5 – loses to an en passant capture

1… Kc6

Choose a move for White:
a) a4 b) f4 c) Kg3

5 points for Kg3 – get your king into play
0 points for a4 or f4 – creating targets for the black king

2. f4 Kd5
3. Kg3 g5 (Ke4 was one of many winning moves)

Choose a move for White (free choice)

10 points for hxg6 – a winning en passant capture
5 points for fxg5 or Kf3 – both these moves should draw
0 points for anything else

4. fxg5 fxg5
5. f4 gxf4+
6. Kxf4 Ke6

Choose a move for White:
a) a3 b) Ke4 c) Kg4

5 points for Ke4 – taking the opposition (a4 and b4 also draw)
0 points for a3 or Kg4 – both of these moves should lose

7. Kg4

Choose a move for Black:
a) b5 b) Kd5 c) Ke5

10 points for Ke5 – Black will be able to approach the white pawns
5 points for b5 – this should lead to a draw
0 point for Kd5 – this will lose after Kf5

7… b5

Choose a move for White:
a) a3 b) b4 c) Kf4

5 points for Kf4 – the only move to draw by keeping the black king from advancing too far
0 points for a3 and b4 – both these moves should lose
8. a3 a5 (Black had the same choice as on the last move. Again Ke5 was winning.)
9. b3 (Again, White had the same choice as on the last move. Kf4 was still a draw, as was b4.)

Choose a move for Black (free choice)

10 points for a4, b4 or Ke5 – all these moves should win
5 points for Kf6 – this move should lead to a draw
0 points for any other move

9… b4
10. axb4 axb4
11. Kf4

Choose a move for Black (free choice)

10 points for Kf6 – Black wins by taking the opposition
5 points for Kd5 – this leads to a race in which both players promote
0 points for other moves – White will win the h-pawn

11… Kf6
12. Kg4 Ke5
13. Kf3

Choose a move for Black (free choice)

10 points for Kf5 – taking the opposition
5 points for all other moves

13… Kd4

Choose a move for White (free choice)

5 points for Kf4 – leading to a drawn position with black queen against white pawn on h7
0 points for anything else

14. Ke2 Kc3
15. Kd1 Kxb3
16. Kc1

Choose a move for Black (free choice)

10 points for Ka2 – the quickest way to win
8 points for Ka3 or Kc3 – these moves are less efficient
5 points for Ka4 or Kc4 – both these moves lead to a draw

16… Ka3

Bonus question 1: what would you do if White played Kb1 here?
a) Ka4 b) Kb3 c) b3

10 points for Kb3 – winning by taking the opposition
5 points for Ka4 or b3 – both these moves lead to a draw

17. Kc2 b3+

Bonus question 2: what would you do if White played Kb1 here?
a) Ka4 b) Kb4 c) b2

10 points for b2 – winning as White has to play Kc2
5 points for Ka4 or Kb4 – both these moves draw as long as White plays correctly

18. Kc1

Choose a move for Black (free choice)

10 points for Ka2 – forcing promotion
5 points for other moves – all of which are only drawn

18… b2+
19. Kb1 and the game was eventually drawn

At the end of the exercise you’re assigned a Chess Hero rating:

95-120: Chess Superhero

70-94: Chess Hero

45-69: Trainee Hero

Below 45: Future Hero

If you teach chess at this level, please feel free to use this yourself. I may well decide to change the marking scheme in future, perhaps awarding 5 or 0 points rather than 10 or 5 in questions where there are only winning and drawing options: I’m still thinking about this.

Richard James

Connected Passed Pawns

A few weeks ago I posted this endgame win by Kopylov over Botvinnik using connected passed pawns. In the Rhyl congress yesterday I did something similar, getting some powerful passed pawns that were much stronger than my opponent’s. His piece sacrifice seemed a bit desperate but the engine confirms that Black is winning anyway:

Sam Davies

Knight vs. Bishop Endgame

In practice it has been shown that a bishop is usually stronger than the knight because of its mobility, but there are always some exceptions. Do remember that in such endgames position of the kings and pawn structure matters a lot. Here are some general pieces of advice with instructive examples:

The pawns are both the side and the position is more dynamic – the bishop is usually better

The pawns are on both sides and the bishop has no targets; generally the knight is better

If pawns are on just one side of the board and position of the king is not passive, then usually a side with a pawn down holds because the defender can sacrifice a piece for a pawn or pawns and can achieve an easy draw. We can conclude that if there are pawns on one side only, most of the time the game ends in a draw.

Ashvin Chauhan