Study Endgames

Tactics are all very well; you can go reasonably far in chess if you are very good at tactics and not much else. But that is crude hacking, not chess, and adopting such a primitive style would put a ceiling on your possible improvement. You will do better in the long run if you are well-rounded.

In particular, the hallmark of the master has always been endgame skill. Think of Emanuel Lasker, Akiba Rubinstein, Jose Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Anatoly Karpov, and Bobby Fischer. Some of these famous masters are known as tacticians, some as strategists, but they were all great endgame players.

Nowadays opening study is all the rage—there must be twenty opening manuals published for every book about endgames, or maybe the ratio is 50:1 or 100:1. Tactics books are also popular. One book out there—written by an amateur, not a master—encourages players to improve by studying only tactics. This is not the time-sanctioned way to become a better player.

I have always had great respect for the hard-won wisdom of the past. The fathers that begot us may not have had iPads or smart phones, but they knew what they were doing, in chess and other areas of life. Their good advice includes:

Business before pleasure.

Don’t spend more than you earn.

Study endgames.

Tim Hanke