There are a plethora of books on the endgame in the market- but often due to the technical nature of calculations and apparent “dryness” of the positions, most amateur players may find reading such books confusing and intimidating at the same time.
This is where “100 Endgames You Must Know” by Grandmaster Jesus De La Villa comes in to assist chess players of all levels- beginner to expert to learn, analyze and understand the intricacies of the Endgame.
The book focuses on endgames which have a statistically high probability of an occurrence in a game and goes about to explain in lucid and simple language through chess diagrams how to play various endgame positions.
For an amateur chess player, it is not unusual to possess books of various chess openings adorning the bookshelves or chess videos occupying gigabytes of hard disk space on laptops where Grandmasters espouse secret weapons that may allow a player to obtain a winning position in the middle game. Often amateurs spend countless hours scouring through diagrams and chess notations on the “sidelines” section of the book in the hope to surprise and gain an edge over their opponent. However, as experience shows that it is seldom that games are won when a player obtains a winning advantage in the middle game. More than often, the game stretches out till the end game where you may be up a pawn or even two, but alas! the stubborn opponent would not give up. But now you are in unchartered territory- clueless and lost, and without a plan of action. You may have the advantage till the middle game but it is useless if you cannot retain that advantage in the endgame and subsequently convert it to win the game.
Endgames are fiendishly complex, notoriously slippery, and ruthlessly unforgiving to a mistake. Perhaps this is why- most amateur players shy away from spending time to hone their endgame skills. However, there are limits to the advantage you may eke out of opening preparation, and against a stronger player, the result will very likely be decided in the end game.
Contents of the book
- Basic Endgame: King + Pawn vs King, Rook vs Bishop, Rook vs Knight
- Basic Tests
- Knight vs Pawn
- Queen vs Pawn
- Rook vs Pawn
- Rook vs 2 Pawns
- Same coloured Bishops: Bishop + Pawn vs Bishop
- Bishop vs Knight
- Opposite coloured Bishops
- Rook + Pawn vs Rook
- Rook + 2 Pawn vs Rook
- Pawn endings
- Other material relations
- Final Test
White to play:
White King supports the pawn and prevent the Black King from standing in its way.
- f7 Ke7 (the only move available to the Black king) 2. Kg7
Imprisoning the stronger King
White to play
Black King is threatening to play Kb2 to cut off White King and secure path of pawn on a-file to the Queening square. White King must retain control of critical c1 and c2 squares
- Kc1 (preventing Kb2 while threatening Kb1) Ka2 (only move to prevent White King from blockading the pawn on a file) 2. Kc2 (White will not allow Black King out of the corner) a4 3. Kc1 a3 4. Kc2 Ka1 5. Kc1 (Black can make no progress and the position is a draw)
Queen vs 7th rank Pawn
and so on till white King arrives and help Queen to deliver mate
Pawn wins against the Rook
White King cannot avoid checks. The only square where White King is safe from the check is b7 square.
5. Kc2 Rf2+ 6. Kb3 Rf3+ 7. Kb4 Rf4+ 8. Kb5 Rf5+ 9. Kb6 Rf6+ 10. Kb7 (White is winning)
Example 5: Philidor Position
Black to play
White is a pawn up but Black by utilizing Philidor Position set up can force a draw
- Rg6 (basic defensive position. King stands in the way of pawn while rook stands on 6th rank to cut White King’s progress. Remember the rule- keep the rook on 6th rank until the pawn moves) 2. e6 Rg1 (as pawn has reached 6th rank, the White king loses shield against rear checks).
3. Kd6 Rd1+ 4. Ke5 Re1+ 5. Kf6 Rf1+ (White king cannot escape checks, the position is a draw)
The money spent on “100 Endgames You Must Know” is an investment that keeps giving returns. This book is extremely useful from a practical point of view. It is ideal for chess players of all levels- from beginners to experts. Simple language and detailed chess diagrams make it an interesting read- even for those chess players who are uninitiated to the study of chess endgames. After reading only the first 25% of the book (pawn endgames)- you may experience confidence in heading to endgames and may surprise opponents with your panache in handling seeming complex pawn endgames. It is no exaggeration that such knowledge may help a chess player to convert an advantage to a win or salvage a seemingly lost position. One may always return and re-read the book from time to time to refresh memory. This book should be in the collection of every aspiring chess player.
Writer: ARJUN VERMA