Saturday, December 1, 2007

You've Been Spared

With a heavy heart, the B vs. N endgame post I've spent far too much time on is being swept under the rug. As fascinating as it was, I just wasn't able to turn it into something clear and instructive.

I strongly recommend that, in your analysis of your own games, you spend some time on the endgames. After the game, make a note of what moves you felt (with 20/20 hindsight) were the key winners and losers, and then analyze them later with the help of a computer. Ask lots of "what if..." questions and follow the lines out.

One benefit is that, as you play through the possible variations, you tend to simplify to more basic endgames, and you get practice analyzing and solving them. Another is that you see how a more complicated endgame can transpose to a simpler one. Some beginners may have the attitude that studying a position that is unlikely to arise in their own games isn't worth their time. After you've studied endgames for a bit, you realize that:

a) certain types of endgames do arise fairly often (rook endgames and some basic pawn endgames, for example), and

b) that a big reason for studying basic endgames is being able to spot winning transpositions to won (or at least advantageous) endings. For example, you may realize after swapping minor pieces that your outside passed pawn should win for you. Or, given the choice of leaving your opponent with one of two pawns, you choose to leave him with the rook pawn because you know how to draw that King-plus-Rook-Pawn vs. King ending.

I'm working on a rook endgame at the moment and hope to have that posted soonish.

1 comment:

Wahrheit said...

I think b) is an excellent point that isn't emphasized enough by some otherwise excellent endgame books--all the tips about activating your king, rook behind passed pawns etc are useless if you don't know what you're playing for--a Philidor-type position if you're a pawn down in a rook ending, for example, That really guides the thinking way back when it's rook and 5 pawns v. rook and 4 or whatnot. I think there are perhaps only about 10 positions that you really need to know cold (Q v. P on the 7th, Philidor and Lucena, etc,) and the rest of the endgame you just think about getting to those positions.

Not comprehensive, not GM level, but very "practical" and efficient for the player with limited study time.