Knowing Classic Endgames

The last Bundesliga weekend saw Mickey Adams win a superb bishop ending against Rainer Buhmann (below). To the inexpert eye, the bishop ending reached after 36 moves may look drawn, but the threat of a white king penetration via h4 in fact leaves Black in serious trouble, if not actually lost.

I was struck by the similarity of this ending to that in the game Larsen-Polugayevsky, Le Havre 1966, which I analysed in detail in my book, “The Greatest Ever Chess Endgames”. A player like Adams is of course capable of winning such a position, even without knowing of the predecessor, but lesser mortals such as ourselves are far more likely to assess and play such an ending well, if we are familiar with a previous master example. The study of great endgames from master play should therefore be an indispensable and regular part of every serious player’s ongoing chess study.

Steve Giddins