Battle of Endgames: 1

My good friend and former colleague at Richmond Junior Chess Club, Ray Cannon, has just published a book which I think you might find interesting.

It’s called Battle of Endgames: 1066 Stratagems for you to Conquer and comprises – you’ve guessed it – 1066 endgame puzzles. In each case there’s just one move that will guarantee you the desired result, either a win or a draw. Some of them are easy, some decidedly tricky. Some you may well have seen before, but others will be new to you.

If I show you a few examples you’ll know what to expect.

This is Stratagem No. 2. White to play.

Try to solve it for yourself before reading on.

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You know that KNN v K is a draw, so you have to save your pawn to win, or do you?

The obvious move is 1. Nc4+, with a fork coming up next move. It doesn’t quite work, though. 1.. Kb5! enables the black king to get back in time to capure the pawn. The winning idea is the surprising and beautiful 1. Nc7! Rxe7 2. Nc4#! Black can only avoid the mate with 1.. Kb6, but this time the king won’t be in time to capture the pawn.

Here’s Stratagem 17. Again it’s White’s move.

What would you play here?

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The only way to win is to sacrifice your bishop: 1. Bxb6! Bxb6 2. a5! Kc7 3. b5! (other moves also win but this has to be played whenever Black plays Kf8) 3.. axb5 4. a6! and the bishop can’t stop both pawns. If you’ve ever played the very instructive minigame with bishop against three pawns you might recognise the idea.

It’s also interesting to note that 1. Be3, for instance, is too slow; 1.. Kf8! 2. Bxb6? Bxb6 3. a5 Bxa5! and this time, with his king one square closer, Black wins the pawn ending.

Regular readers will know that I’m very big on teaching endings. Solving positions like these is, in my opinion, invaluable for most players: certainly much more so than memorising stupid opening traps. This excellent book is highly recommended for anyone rated, say, 1000 to 2000, although, as Julian Simpole notes on the back cover, ‘this book would benefit master-standard players’. For those of you who teach pupils at intermediate level or above, again you’ll have a wealth of great coaching material at your disposal.

The book is published by Amazon: you can buy it here

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

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