100 endgame you must know book review

100 ENDGAMES YOU MUST KNOW BOOK REVIEW

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

Introduction

  1. Basic Endgame: King + Pawn vs King, Rook vs Bishop, Rook vs Knight
  2. Basic Tests
  3. Knight vs Pawn
  4. Queen vs Pawn
  5. Rook vs Pawn
  6. Rook vs 2 Pawns
  7. Same coloured Bishops: Bishop + Pawn vs Bishop
  8. Bishop vs Knight
  9. Opposite coloured Bishops
  10. Rook + Pawn vs Rook
  11. Rook + 2 Pawn vs Rook
  12. Pawn endings
  13. Other material relations
  14. Final Test
  15. Appendix

Examples

Example1

White to play:

White King supports the pawn and prevent the Black King from standing in its way.

  1. f7 Ke7 (the only move available to the Black king) 2. Kg7

Example 2

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

  1. 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)

Example 3

Queen vs 7th rank Pawn




White to play
White Queen must check the Black King to prevent pawn promotion. Whenever Black King steps in front of the pawn, White King takes a step towards the pawn. This process continues till White King reaches third rank and assists in the capture of the pawn on g2.
1.       Qf4+ (The queen comes closer to the pawn) Ke2 2. Qg3 (this move ris necessary. Repeating checks do not improve the position and may lead to threefold repetition) Kf1 3. Qf3+ (the black King must step in front of the pawn) Kg1 4. Kg7 (white King approaches the pawn),  Kh2 5. Qf2 Kh1 6. Qh4+ Kg1 7. Kg6 Kf1 8. Qf4+ Ke2 9. Qg3 Kf1 10. Qf3+ Kg1 11. Kg5 ….
 

and so on till white King arrives and help Queen to deliver mate

Example 4

Pawn wins against the Rook





Black to play
In this position, side with rook to move loses if the rook in on one of the highlighted squares b5 and f5.
 
1…..Rf6+ 2. Kd5 (not 2. Kd7 Rf1 3. c8=Q Rd1+ 4. Kc7 Rc7+ and it is a draw)
Rf5+ 3. Kd4 Rf4+ 4. Kd3 Rf3+

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

  1. 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)

Conclusion

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
boringchessplayer@gmail.com

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