Chess Heroes: Endings

In earlier articles I’ve discussed other volumes in my Chess Heroes series designed to take students from round about 500 to 1500 strength. My opinion is that, while there are many books which teach you how the pieces move, and many more books written for proficient players, there’s very little on the market which will take someone who knows the moves to that level.

In earlier articles I’ve introduced you to the preliminary volume, and to the books dealing with checkmates, tactics and openings. The final book in this quartet covers endings.

Chapter 1 deals with the basic endings of KQ v K and KR v K, and ensures that readers are able to perform these checkmates quickly and confidently. These are the basis of everything that follows.

Chapter 2 looks at the ending of KP v K. A thorough knowledge of this is essential. You need to be able to tell at a glance whether any KP v K is winning or drawing. As throughout the book, there are quiz questions to test and reinforce the reader’s knowledge and skills.

In Chapter 3 we look at pawn endings in general. We start with some simple examples of how you can win with an extra pawn. Another important feature of this book is that, as well as quiz questions, there are pages of positions where one player has what should be a winning material advantage. Readers are invited to play them out against their teacher, a training partner or a computer, and then to check their moves against engine analysis. Being able to win simple endings with extra material is as important to the chess player as being able to sink short putts every time is to the golfer.

We then look at some ideas which are useful when playing more complex pawn endings: the outside passed pawn, the trebuchet, the spare move and the opposition, the breakthrough, special considerations concerning the a- and h-pawns and the race. Further quiz questions test the understanding of these important concepts.

Quite often both players promote in pawn endings, or one player promotes while the opponent’s pawn reaches the 7th rank. So Chapter 4 looks at the important ending of queen against pawn on the 7th rank, followed by a very brief look at queen endings. These, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, can be very scary, so providing too much detail at this stage of a player’s development will only be confusing.

Rook endings are the most common type of ending, so Chapter 5, on rook endings, is important. We look briefly at RvP, which comes up from time to time. We then introduce the Lucena and Philidor positions: vital knowledge in understanding the very common ending of RP v R.  Ideas to be considered in rook endings include when to trade rooks, when to trade pawns, how best to use your rook and how best to use your king. As you’d expect you’ll then find some positions to play out to see if you can win with an extra pawn, and some quiz questions to test your tactical and calculation skills in rook endings.

Finally, Chapter 6 looks at minor piece endings. We start with the KBB v K and KBN v K mates, although at this level this isn’t essential knowledge. We then look at some positions with KNN v KP. Moving on, we look at a few positions where you have an extra piece and explore how we might win these positions. The most important lesson here is to understand that KBrP v K, with the bishop not controlling the rook’s pawn’s promotion square is very often a draw. We then explain something about endings with bishops of opposite colours, and look at endings with bishop against knight. There are some positions for you to play out where you have a material advantage, and some final puzzles to conclude the book.

It’s – deliberately – a relatively slim volume, just telling you what you need to know in order to reach 1500 strength or thereabouts and not confusing you by providing too much information which won’t (yet) be of use.

Purchases and 5* reviews of this and the other Chess Heroes books will always be very much appreciated. Do spread the word about the Chess Heroes project.

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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