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.
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?
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