Category Archives: Endgame

Understanding Queen Endgames

Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
From the publisher:

The Daunting Domain of Queen Endgames Explained! Knowing the abilities and limitations of the powerful queen is very valuable for mastering the secrets of the royal game, and this can be studied best in the endgame.

Queen endgames are very difficult, if only for purely mathematical reasons  the queen is the most mobile piece in chess, and the amount of possible options is incomparably higher than in any other type of endgames.

This book follows a dual philosophy as in the three previous works by the same authors: Understanding Rook Endgames, Understanding Minor Piece Endgames and Understanding Rook vs. Minor Piece Endgames. The 7-piece endings are dealt with in great detail. They are often so complex that pre-tablebase analysis almost always contains errors. Many new discoveries are revealed here. But to really understand the fight of a queen against a queen or minor pieces with rooks, these theoretical positions are of course not enough. So subchapters on the principles of each material configuration have been added.

All in all, this fantastic book is already on my (very short) “must study” list for chessplayers of different levels, including the top ten! I want to thank the authors for the courage which is required just to start working on such a complex topic, as well as for the very high quality of their work, which will endure for decades to come and will be very useful for many future generations of chessplayers. The foreword is by Vladimir Kramnik,14th World Chess Champion”

This titanic technical endgame tome is a  Magnum Opus with a forward by former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. The complexity of queen endings is obvious as the queen is the most mobile piece and the number of  variations becomes vast after only a few ply. This is probably the reason that this is the first work to cover queen endings in great depth. The complexity of these endgames is shown by a famous game from Vladimir Kramnik’s World Championship match versus Peter Leko in 2004. The first game of that match reached this position:

Leko-Kramnik World Championship 2014(1) Move 44 White to move
Leko-Kramnik World Championship 2014(1) Move 44 White to move

White played 44.Qf4??  which loses as demonstrated by Kramnik in the game and is covered in this book 44…g5! 45.Qf6 h6! winning, the point being that 46.Qxh6 loses the queen to 46…R8a6! After 45…h6 White cannot prevent Black from manoeuvring his rooks to win the kingside pawns. The natural move is 44.hxg6 exchanging pawns to reduce material which was thought, at the time, to draw. In fact Black stills retains winning chances. As the position has eight men the result is still not known definitively – this shows the richness of such endgames.

This publication also covers endgames that have had little coverage in the past such as Two Rooks + Pawn  v Queen.

Most first quick skim of the book did concern me slightly as I noticed some diagrams followed by 100+ moves with no annotations. On a deeper perusal, I realised that these examples are included as “longest wins” for certain material combinations. This emulates John Nunn’s longest wins in “Secrets of Pawnless Endings”. There is plenty of well annotated material within  practical games to bring out key ideas, for example the techniques to break down fortresses are examined in detail.

The book has ten main chapters traditionally based on piece configuration:

  • Chapter 1 Queen vs. Pawn
  • Chapter 2 Queen vs. Queen
  • Chapter 3 Queen vs. Rook
  • Chapter 4 Queen vs. Rook and Knight
  • Chapter 5 Queen vs. Rook and Bishop
  • Chapter 6 Queen vs. Two Rooks
  • Chapter 7 Queen vs. Rook and Two Minor Pieces
  • Chapter 8 Queen and Minor Piece vs. Queen (and Minor Piece)
  • Chapter 9 Queen and Rook vs. Queen and Rook
  • Chapter 10 Queen vs. Minor Pieces

Each chapter ends with some fruitful exercises to check if you were paying attention. The solutions are given near the end of the book.

Chapter 1 Queen vs. Pawn

This chapter obviously concentrates on the cases where the pawn is on the seventh rank. Here is the end of a Troitzky study:

Troitzky 1935 (end of study) White to draw
Troitzky 1935 (end of study) White to draw

1.Ke6!! and whichever way Black’s king goes, White moves into his shadow drawing: 1…Kf4+ 2.Kf7! draws or 1…Kd4+ 2.Kd7 draws

This next position looks arcane but the reviewer has has this position twice in blitz, once as the attacking side and once as the defending side: in both cases the defence was accurate to hold the draw.

Q v P (king outside winning zone) White to move
Q v P (king outside winning zone) White to move

White cannot win despite the proximity of his king. White can try 1.Qd5+ 1…Ke1!! is the only move to draw, 1…Ke2 loses to 2.Qa2! Kd1 3.Kd4! c1Q 4.Kd3 mating. White can also try 1.Qa2 Kc3!! is the only move to draw, 1…Kd1 2.Kd4! c1=Q 3.Kd3 mating.

This chapter goes on to cover many types of position with far advanced pawns against a queen.

Chapter 2 Queen versus Queen

Naturally the authors start with the notoriously difficult ending Queen and Pawn vs. Queen: their comment is “This can be very deep and tricky if the defending king can’t get in front of the pawn.”  Certainly an understatement as many strong GMs have gone down in drawn endings.  A whole volume could be dedicated to this fascinating endgame.

The authors systematically cover the rook’s pawn, knight’s pawn, bishop’s pawn and centre pawns. Some useful general rules are given for each pawn:

“Rook Pawn – In this case, the drawing zone for the defending king is usually quite large when the pawn is not far advanced, as the rook pawn does not provide good shelter. But the zone gets smaller as the pawn advances, and the main drawing zone is in the corner farthest from the queening square.”

A didactic example from Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 is given:

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 59 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 59 Black to play

Black’s king is badly placed restricting his own queen, so he should run to the a1-corner as fast as he can. 59…Kc5!? 60.h5 Qe8+ 61.Kh6 Kd5?! 61…Kb4 going closer to the drawing zone is more logical 62.Kg5 Qg8+ 63.Kf4 Qb8+ 64.Kg4

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 64 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 64 Black to play

64…Qb4+! An excellent move preserving the draw., 64…Qa7? loses to 65.Qf4!! cutting the Black king off from the a1-drawing zone and winning in the long run. It looks as though Black’s king might get near the pawn, but that is an illusion: he just restricts his own queen’s movements. 65.Kg5 Qd2+ 66.Kg6 Kc4 67.h6 Qg2+ 68.Kf7 Qb7+ 69.Kg8 Qb8+ 70.Qf8 Qg3+ 71.Kh8 Qe5+ 72.Qg7 Qe4 73.h7

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 73 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 73 Black to play

This a typical position from this ending, white has pushed the pawn to the seventh rank with his king hiding in the corner in front of the pawn. This is a tablebase draw but this has been known for many decades before the advent of tablebases.

73…Kd3?? loses, a bad mistake from a 2700 GM. 73…Kb3! draws but accuracy is still required. 74.Qf7+ (74.Kg8 Qe8+ 75. Qf8 Qg6+ 76.Kh8 Kc2=) 74…Kb2

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 75 White to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 75 White to play

This is the type of position that Black is aiming for. The authors explain why it is drawn with a pithy comment: “and White can’t win as the king must move too far from the pawn to move into a countercheck position.” For example: 75.Kg7 Qg4+ 76.Qg6 Qd7+ 77.Kh6 Qd2+ 78.Qg5 Qd6+ 79.Kh5

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 79 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 79 Black to play

Another excellent explanation from the authors: “White’s king wants to go to h1 or h2 to make counterchecks possible, but the pieces are then too far apart” (and un-coordinated) e.g. 79…Qd1+ 80.Qg4 Qh1+ 81.Kg6 Qc6+ 82.Kg5 Qd5+ 83.Qf5 Qg2+ 84.Kh4

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play

84…Qh2+ 85.Qh3 Qf4+ 86.Kh5 Qe5+ 87.Kg6 Qd6+ 88.Kf7 Qf4+ drawn

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 89 White to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 89 White to play

Black to the game after 73…Kd3??

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 74 White to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 74 White to play

74.Qd7+ Ke2?! (74…Kc2 lasts longer but does not save the game anymore: buy the book to find out how White wins) 75.Kg8 White is going to shuffle his king along to the adjacent file to Black’s king to setup a crosscheck: 75…Qg6+ 76.Kf8 Qh6+ 77.Qg7 Qf4+ 78.Qf7

Carlsen-Gashimov Move 78 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Move 78 Black to play

78…Qh6+ Notice how Black’s choice of checks are severely restricted because of his king’s placement 79.Ke7 Qh4+ 80.Ke8 Qa4+ 81.Kf8! Now we can see again why Black’s king is badly placed: Black has no good checks.

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 81 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 81 Black to play

81…Qd4 82.Qh5+ Kf2 83.h8Q Qd6+ 84.Kf7 Qd7+ 85.Kg6 1-0

A very important ending to study and learn from a World Champion.

Muller & Konoval give an example of good defence with the king in the drawing zone where the defending side does not let the draw slip at any point:

Markowski-Piket Istanbul 2000 Move 57 White to play
Markowski – Piket Istanbul 2000 Move 57 White to play

Piket played 57.Qe8+ and drew: buy the book to see the excellent defensive effort.

Here is an old game where modern tablebases really show how difficult these endgames are:

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 80 White to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 80 White to play

White played 80.Qc1? The amazing 80.Qh1!! is the only move to draw, for example 80…Qd7 81.Qf3+ Ke8 82.Qa8+ Ke7 83.Qh8! Qd6+ 84.Ka7!

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play

Drawing, a beautiful geometric display of the queen’s power with the white queen moving around all the corners in a few moves. 80…Qe5! 81. Qb1

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 81 Black to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 81 Black to play

81…Qf6+? (A mistake improving White’s king for free particularly as White’s checks are restricted because of potential cross checks, the natural 81…h2! wins, e.g.: 82.Qb7+ Kf6 83.Qf3+ Ke7 84.Qb7+ Kd8 85.Qa8+ Kd7 86.Qb7+? Qc7 and white has no good check, so he loses) 82.Ka7!  and white drew with excellent defence 82…Kg7 83.Qg1+ Kh7 84.Qe3 Qa1+ 85.Kb8 Qb2+ 86.Ka7 Qg2 87.Qd3+ 87…Kh8 Although White’s king is in the drawing zone, Black’s king is on a neighbouring rank making counterchecks possible, so white played 88.Ka6! (88.Qe3 also draws)

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 88 White to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 88 White to play

88…h2 89.Qd8+ Kh7 90.Qc7+! Staying on the h2-pawn so Black cannot interpose the queen, and White drew 14 moves later by repetition.

If the defending king can get in front or very near the pawn, it should do so:

Bakutin-Novitzkij Tula 2000 Move 63 White to play
Bakutin – Novitzkij Tula 2000 Move 63 White to play

63.Kd3! h5 64.Ke2! now the draw is easy as white does not fear a queen exchange.

Sometimes the defending king has to keep both options open: here is a brilliant example:

Dominguez Perez - Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 60 Black to move
Dominguez Perez – Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 60 Black to move

Black looks to be in trouble as his king is a long way from the drawing zone and will interfere with his queen. However Nakamura found 60…Ke5!! 61.Kg7 Qc6! Keeping Black’s options open 62.h6

After 62.Qg6 Qb7+ 63.Kh8 Qa8+ 64.Qg8 Qc6 65.Qg5+ Black changes plans and runs to the drawing zone as White’s king is badly placed in front of the pawn, he just has time to do this 65…Kd4!! 66.Qg7+ Kc4 67.h6 Kb3 68.h7 Ka2=

Dominguez Perez - Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Variation Move 69 White to move
Dominguez Perez – Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Variation Move 69 White to move

62… Qg2+ 63.Qg6 Qb7+ 64.Qf7 Qg2+ 65.Kh8 Qa8+ 66.Qg8 Qf3

Dominguez Perez - Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 67 White to move
Dominguez Perez – Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 67 White to move

67.Qg6 (67.h7 Qh5 68.Qg7+ Ke6! draws as Black’s king cramps White’s pieces.) 67…Qf8+ 68.Kh7 Qf3 69.Qg7+ Ke6 70.Kg8  Qh5 71.h7 Qe8+ 72.Qf8 Qg6+ 73.Kh8 Qf7 drawn

Knight Pawn – “With a knight pawn, play is similar to a rook pawn, but the winning chances are better as the pawn provides  better shelter. There is still a drawing zone in the far corner.”

The play is complex and there are many subtleties with slight differences being crucial as we shall see below.

Here is a superb example of drawing technique from Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009:

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 63 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 63 Black to move

Where does Black put his king? 63…Kf1! (63…Kd2? loses in 91 moves as the king is cut off from the drawing zone!) 64.b5 Qc7+ 65.Kd5 Qb7+ 66.Qc6 Qf7+ 67.Kd6 Qf4+ 68.Kd7 Qf7+ 69.Kc8 Qf8+ 70.Kb7 Qe7+ 71.Qc7 Qe4+ 72.Ka6 Qa4+ 73.Qa5 Qc4 74.Qa1+ Kg2

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 75 White to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 75 White to move

Black’s king has reached the drawing zone. It is still very easy to go wrong.

75.Qb2+ Kh1 76.Qh8+ Kg1 77.Qg7+ Kh1 78.Qb7+ Kh2 79.Qc6 Qa2+ 80.Kb7 Kg1 81.Qc1+ Kf2 82.Qc5+ Kf1 83.b6  Postny comments :The pawn has reached the 6th rank already, although it is still a draw theoretically. For the defensive side it’s very easy to go astray, but, somehow I managed to give the right checks. 83…Qg2+ 84.Ka6 Qa8+ 85.Kb5 A crucial position, Black’s king is temporarily out of the drawing zone and cannot go back immediately.

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 85 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 85 Black to move

85…Qe8+!  The only move to draw 86.Ka5 Qe1+ 87.Ka6 Qa1+ 88.Qa5

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 88 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 88 Black to move

88…Qf6! 89.Qb5+ Kg1 90.Qc5+ Kh1 91.Ka7 Qa1+ 92.Kb7 Qg7+ 93.Qc7 Qf8 94.Qd7 Qf2 95.Qd5+ Kg1 96.Qg5+ Kh1 97.Kc6 Qc2+ 98.Kd6 Qh2+ 99.Qe5 Qh6+ 100.Kc5 Qc1+ 101.Kd5 Qd2+ 102.Qd4 Qg5+ 103.Kc4 Qc1+ 104.Qc3 Qf1+ 105.Kb4 Qb1+ 106.Qb3 Qe1+ 107.Kb5 Qe5+ 108.Ka6 Qa1+ 109.Kb7 Qg7+ 110.Kc6 Qf6+ 111.Kc5 Qe7+ 112.Kd4 Qf6+ 113.Kd3 Qf5+ 114.Kc3 Qe5+ 115.Kb4 Qe1+ 116.Qc3 Qb1+ 117.Ka5 Qa2+ 118.Kb5 Qd5+ 119.Qc5 Qd3+ 120.Kc6 Qg6+ 121.Kb7 Qf7+ 122.Ka6 Qa2+ 123.Qa5 Qe2+ 124.Ka7 Qf2 125.Qd5+ Kg1 126.Kb7 Qf8 127.Qd4+ Kh1 128.Qe4+ Kg1 129.Qe3+

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 129 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 129 Black to move

Postny comments again: For a moment I thought that I was losing. The queen covered the a3 square, and Kb7-a7 followed by the pawn advance just one move before the fifty move rule seems inevitable. But… 129…Kh1! 130.Ka7 Qf2!! This stalemate trick saves the game. 131.Qe4+ Kg1 132.Kb7 Qf7+ 133.Kc6 Draw due to the fifty move rule. ½-½

The next example shows how difficult this ending really is:

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 77 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 77 Black to play

Black’s king is not yet in the drawing zone. Black played the obvious check 77…Qe7+? which loses 77…Qe3! (77..Qc5? loses to 78.Qd3!) does draw, e.g. 78.Ka8 Kh3 79.b7 Qe4 80.Ka7 Qd4+ 81.Qb6 Qa1+ 82.Qa6 Qd4+ 83.Ka8 Qe4

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation Move 84 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation Move 84 White to play

This is drawn despite Black’s king not being in the drawing zone but it is close enough! 84.Qa2!? cutting the Black king off from the drawing zone (by analogy with the line below) does not win here.

Back to the game 78.b7 Qe3+ 79.Ka8 Qe4

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 80 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 80 White to play

80.Qb5? 80.Qa3!! cutting the king off from the drawing zone wins, followed by moving White’s king down to the same rank as Black’s king which is similar to the line below 80…Qf3? (80…Kg3! draws) 81.Qb4+ Kh3 82.Qc5?! Qe4

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 83 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 83 White to play

83.Qc3+? Sloppy, improving Black’s king for free and the queen is much better placed on c5; it was time to move the White king down to the rank that Black’s king is on: 83.Ka7! wins, e.g. 83…Qa4+ 84.Kb6 Qb3+ 85.Ka6 Qa4+ 86.Qa5 Qc4+ 87.Qb5 Qe6+ 88.Ka5 Qa2+ 89.Kb6 Qf2+ 90.Qc5 Qb2+ 91.Ka6 Qe2+ 92.Ka5 Qa2+ 93.Kb5 Qe2+ 94.Qc4 Qb2+ 95.Qb4 Qe5+ 96.Ka4 Qe8+ 97.Ka3

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 97 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 97 Black to play

97…Qb8 98.Kb3 Kh2 99.Kb2 Qe5+ 100.Kb1 Qf5+ 101.Ka1 wins

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 102 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 102 Black to play

Very instructive. This is a typical winning manoeuvre in queen and pawn vs queen.

Back to the game after 83.Qc3+? Kg2

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 84 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 84 White to play

84.Ka7 Qe7 85.Kb6 Qd8+ 86.Qc7 Qd4+ 87.Qc5 Qb2+ 88.Kc7 Qg7+ 89.Kc6

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 89 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 89 Black to play

A key position and a common problem for the defending side, which check should I make? Black choose the wrong check and lost. 89…Qg6+? The authors offer some general advice here: “As Black’s king is on a light square, it was better to operate on dark squares”: 89…Qf6+! Drawing 90.Qd6 Qc3+ 91.Kd7 Qg7+ 92.Qe7 Qd4+ 93.Ke8 White is trying to bring his king across to the same file as Black’s king.  Qh8+ 94.Qf8 Qe5+

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 2 Move 95 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 2 Move 95 White to play

95.Kf7 loses the pawn to a fork 95…Qd5+ drawing instantly

Back to the game, after 89…Qg6+? 90.Qd6 Qe8+?!

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 91 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 91 White to play

91.Qd7?! (91. Kb6! Qe3+ 92. Kc7 Qa7 Kc8 wins quickly, now we see why Black’s queen should operate on the dark squares) 91…Qg6+

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 92 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 92 White to play

92. Kd5? White could have centralised the queen and effected a memorable manoeuvre to win 92.Qd6! Qc2+ 93.Kd7 Qh7+ 94.Qe7 Qd3+ 95.Ke8 Qg6+ 96. Kf8 Qf5+ 97.Kg8 Qd5+ 98.Kh8 Qh5+ 99.Qh7 winning

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 3 Move 99 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 3 Move 99 Black to play

Notice that this winning motif is effectively the same idea as the king manoeuvre down the a-file and b-files rotated ninety degrees!

In the game: 92…Qd3+ 93.Ke6 Qg6+ 94.Ke5 Qg5+ 95.Ke4 Qg6+! 96.Ke5 Qg5+ 97.Kd6

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 97 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 97 Black to play

97…Qf6+? The final mistake allowing White to improve his queen. 97…Qf4+ 98.Kc6 Qa4+ 99.Kc7 Qa5+ 100.Kc8 Qc5+ draws 98.Qe6! 98…Qd8+?! 99.Kc6 Qh8 100.Qa2+ Kf1 101.Qb1+ and queens the pawn, White won 4 moves later.

Here is a pretty study showing  a neat idea:

Van Vliet 1888
Van Vliet 1888

How does White break the pin to get his pawn home?

1.Qb4! mutual zugzwang 1…Qh1 (1…Qd5 2.Qa4+ Kb6 3.Qb3+ Qxb3 4.b8Q+ wins; 1…Qf3 2.Qa4+ Kb6 3.Qb3+ wins; 1…Qg2 2.Qa3+Kb5 3.Qb2+ wins) 2.Qa3+ Kb6 3.Qb2+ Ka6 4.Qa2+ Kb5 5.Qb1+ Qxb1 6.b8Q+ skewering the queen

Amazingly this idea occurred in a game and White  missed the neat win, but won anyway.

Bishop Pawn

This is completely different. If the defending king can’t get in front of the pawn or at least very near the pawn, the attacker usually wins as there is no drawing zone in the far corner. This is best pawn for the superior side.

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 65 White to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 65 White to play

White played 65.Qe5+? (A bad mistake from a 2500 player, 65.Qc3+ draws as Black’s queen is poorly placed.) 65…Qe4! Black gives up his h-pawn to centralise his queen and get his f-pawn going 66.Qxh5 f5 White has restored material equality but is now lost as the centralised Black queen is dominant and the f-pawn is much more dangerous than White’s a-pawn. 67.Qh3+ Kd2 68.Qh2+ Kc3 69.Kb5 f4 70.Qh8+ Kb3 71.Qf8 f3 72.Qf7+ Kxa3 Black has eliminated the a-pawn which wasn’t strictly necessary. The win is simple from here as Black’s queen is so well placed.

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 73 White to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 73 White to play

73.Qf8+ Kb2 74.Qf6+ Kc2 75.Ka6?! Accelerating the loss. When the kings are close to each other on files or ranks, the stronger side should always be on the look out for a sequence to exchange queens.

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 75 Black to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 75 Black to play

75…Qd5?! (Black could have exchanged queens with 75…Qd3+! 76.Kb7 Qb3+ 77.Ka8 Qa3+ 78.Kb7 Qb2+) 76,Qf4 Kd3 77.Qg3 Qc4+ 78.Ka7 Qc5+ 79.Ka8 Qd5+ 80.Ka7 Ke2 81.Qg4 Kd3 82.Qg3

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 82 Black to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 82 Black to play

82…Qd4+! 83.Ka6 Ke2 84.Qh3 f2 85.Qh5+ Ke1 86.Qa5+ Kd1 87.Qh5+ Kc2 88.Qe2+ Kc3

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 89 White to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 89 White to play

89.Kb7 Qg7+ 0-1 in view of 90.Kb8 Qf8+ 91.Kb7 Qf7+ 92.Kb6 f1Q

A central pawn

This is similar to the bishop’s pawn, but the winning chances are slightly less. There is no drawing zone for the defending king in the far corner:

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 68 Black to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 68 Black to move

There is no chance for a draw here with the central pawn as Black cannot be prevented from advancing the pawn to the queening square: it just requires patience, care and a lot of moves.

Black played 68…Qa1+ (the natural 68…Qf5 unpinning the pawn is better.)

Black played well, not letting the win slip at any point until this position at move 110:

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 110 Black to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 110 Black to move

Black played 110…Kf4?? which throws the win away as white has a brilliant draw utilising the fact that the pawn is unprotected by the queen and the star cross perpetual check. Better was 110…Qb3 protecting the pawn and preparing cover for the king on the queenside viz.: 111.Qh2+ Ke4 112.Qg2+ Kd3 113.Qg6+ Kd2 114.Qg5 Qc4 115.Ka8 Qd4 116.Kb7 Kc3 117.Qg3 Qd3 winning

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 118 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Variation 1 Move 118 White to move

The reviewer makes this observation:

Notice how Black’s king has migrated over to the file adjacent to White’s king ready to setup cross checks in a few moves. This cannot be prevented wherever White’s king is on the board with two exceptions:

  • The weaker side can draw if the defending king gets in front of the pawn
  • or reaches a small drawing zone on the short side of the pawn.

The only other drawing mechanism is to setup the star cross perpetual check or a variant of it which is shown below.

111.Qh2+! Reaching a very important position as White can draw

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 111 Black to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 111 Black to move

111…Kg4 112.Qg1+Kf4 113.Qh2+ Ke4

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 114 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 114 White to move

114.Qg2+??  [114.Qh1+!! Kd4 115.Qa1+  Kd3 116.Qd1+ Ke4 117.Qh1+ Ke5 118.Qh5+ Kf5 (118…Kd6 or Ke6 loses the pawn to 119.Qh6+) 119.Qh5+ drawing] 114…Kd4 115.Qb2+ Kd3 Black breaks the perpetual sequence and wins as White’s queen has lost her checking distance

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 116 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 116 White to move

116.Qb1+ Ke2 117.Qc2+ Kf3 118.Qc3 Kf2 (quicker is 118…Qd6) 119.Qf6+ Qf3 120.Qd4 Qf5 121.Qh4+ Kf3 122.Qh1+ Ke2 123.Qh2+ Qf2 124.Qh5+ Qf3

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 125 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 125 White to move

125.Qh2+? (Centralising with 125.Qe5 was a tougher defence) 125…Kf1 126.Qc2 e2 127.Qc4 Kg2 128.Qg8+ Qg3 129.Qd5+Kg1

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 End
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 End

Exploiting White king position 0-1

The central pawn does have a small drawing zone for the defending side which is on the short side of the pawn:

Karjakin - Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Move 91 White to move
Karjakin – Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Move 91 White to move

This is a theoretical draw as White’s king restricts Black’s king manoeuvres, but White must defend perfectly:

91.Kb3? losing as White’s king can be kicked out of the drawing zone. 91,Qc4 holds for example 91…Qb6+ 92.Ka2 Qa5+ 93.Kb2 Qe5+ 94.Kb1 Qa1+ 95.Kb2 Qe3 96.Qc1+ Ke2 97.Qc4=

Karjakin - Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Variation Move 97 Black to move
Karjakin – Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Variation Move 97 Black to move

White’s king covers the queenside and the White queen can hassle Black on the kingside. If Black’s king strays too far on the kingside, Black cannot block a queen check as White will simply exchange queens drawing owing to the proximity of his king to the pawn.

The game continued 91…Qb6+ 92.Kc4 Qa6+  (92…Qc7+ is better 93.Kb3 Qc3+ 94.Ka2 Qa5+ 95.Kb2 Qb5+ 96.Ka3 Kc3 wins) 93.Kb3?! Qb5+ 94.Ka2 Kc3 95.Qe1+ Kc2 0-1 (96.Qf2 d2)

The book covers numerous positions with more pawns.

Here is a celebrated game Kasparov v The World Internet 1999.

Kasparov - The World Internet 1999 Move 51 Black to play
Kasparov – The World Internet 1999 Move 51 Black to play

Although Black is a pawn up, White is playing for the win as his g-pawn is the most advanced pawn. The seven piece tablebase confirms this position is a draw but Black is on the edge of losing and most defend perfectly. The game continued 51…b5?! (51,,,Ka1! holds) 52.Kf6+ Kb2? (The final mistake 52…Ka1 was necessary) 53.Qh2+ Ka1 54.Qf4! b4 55.Qxb4 Black is lost as the d-pawn is a hindrance as it obstructs Black’s queen and offers cover to White’s king. Without the d-pawn the position is drawn as show earlier in this review.

Kasparov - The World Internet 1999 Move 54 Black to play
Kasparov – The World Internet 1999 Move 54 Black to play

The ROW did not last much longer and resigned on move 62.

Chapter 3 Queen v Rook

The basic Queen v Rook endgame is covered sufficiently. The authors show how to break the third rank defence:

Queen v Rook Third Rank Defence
Queen v Rook Third Rank Defence

The authors observe: “The third rank defence is very difficult to break down if you do not know how, because it requires at least one counter-intuitive move to achieve that. John Nunn suggests the following method:”

1.Qf4! (1.Qg7 does not make progress because of 1…Ke8 2.Qc7 Rh6 3.Ke5 Rg6 and the starting position has been mirrored) 1…Kd7 2.Qa4+! Kc7 3.Qa7+ Forcing Black into the third rank defence 3…Rb7 4.Qc5+ Kb8 5.Kd6 Rg7 6.Qb4+ Rb7 7.Qe4 Rb6+ 8.Kc5 Ka7 9.Qd4 Rb7 10.Kc6+ Ka8 11.Qd5 Kb8 12.Qa5 and Philidor’s position is reached.

The book covers a multitude of Queen vs Rook + Pawn(s) positions where there are many fortresses  worth knowing and even in the situations where the queen wins, many wins are quite long and complicated. Here is an example of a simple draw.

Queen v Rook+P Fortress
Queen v Rook+P Fortress

Here White can simply move his rook back and forth between two safe squares e3 & g3.

An additional pawn for Black on g4  makes no difference viz:

Queen v Rook+P Fortress 2
Queen v Rook+P Fortress 2

This is clearly drawn as well. However, make a subtle change to the position and place White’s king on e2, then the queen wins:

Agopov - Norri Finland 2012 Move 89 White to move
Agopov – Norri Finland 2012 Move 89 White to move

White played the incomprehensible 89.g6? allowing the simple 89…Rxg6 drawing 89.Qh1! wins as follows: 89…Rg6 90.Qa8 Re6 91.Qa3+ Ke8 92.Kg4 Rg6 93.Kh5 Re6 94.Qb4 zugzwang

Agopov - Norri Finland 2012 Move 94 Black to move
Agopov – Norri Finland 2012 Move 94 Black to move

Black has no good move. One key point is 94…Rg6 95.Qe4+ Kf8 (95…Re6 96.Qxe6 fxe6 97.Kh6 winning) 96.Qxg6 winning

With a further advanced bishop’s pawn, it is no longer a fortress as the attacking king can encircle the weaker side’s position:

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress

The winning process falls into three phases and zugzwang is the main weapon to achieve these steps:

  1. First the king has to cross the e-file

1.Kf2 Qc7 2.Kg2 Qc2+ 3.Kg1 (3.Kg3 Qd2 4.Rg4 Ke5 5.Re4+ Kd5 and the first phase is complete) 3…Qd2 4.Kf1 Qh2 5.Re2Qg3 6.Rg2 Qh3 7.Kf2 Ke5 8.Rg4 Kd5

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 9 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 9 White to move

2. Next the Black king crosses the fourth rank:

9.Ke2 Qh6 10.Kf2 Qd2+ 11.Kf1 Qe3 12.Kg2 Qe2+ 13.Kg3 Qf1! 14.Re4 Qg1+ 15.Kf4 Qf2! 16.Kg4 Qg2+ 17.Kf4 Qg1!

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 18 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 18 White to move

White is in zugzwang again and most give way. There are two main defences 18.Re5+ and 18.Ra4.

After 18.Re5+ Kd4 19.Re4+ Kd3 The king’s next target is f2 to gobble the pawn 20.Re8 Qd4+ 21.Re4 Qg7!

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 22 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 22 White to move

22.Re3+ Kd3 23.Re4 Qg6!

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 24 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 24 White to move

Next the final phase: Black’s king crosses the e-file to win the pawn.

24.Re5 Qf6+ 25.Rf5 Qd4+ 26.Kg5 Qg7+ 27.Kf4 Ke2 28.Ke4 Kf2 29.f4 Qe7+ 30.Re5 Qb4+ 31.Kf5 Kf3 and the pawn falls

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 32 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 32 White to move

After 18.Ra4, they are two winning methods, Magnus Carlsen shows one of them here in a position with reversed colours:

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 64 White to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 64 White to play

White can win with 64.Kd3 which is quickest according to the tablebase but Carlsen’s method is just as good:

64.Kf4! Rd5 65.Kg4 zugzwang 65…Kc4  (65…Rd4+ 66.Kf5) 66.Qb6! Rd4+ (66…c5?! 67.Qe6 Kd4 Kf4 wins) 67.Kf5 c5 68.Qa5 Rd5+ 69.Ke6 

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 69 Black to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 69 Black to play

69…Rd4 70.Qa4+ Kc3 71.Qa3+ Kc4 72.Qa5 Rd3 73.Qa4+ Kc3 74.Qa3+ Kc4 75.Qc1+ Kb4 76.Qb2+ Kc4 77.Qc2+

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 77 Black to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 77 Black to play

77…Kd4 [77…Rc3 78.Qe4+ Kb3 79.Qb1+! (79.Kd6?? Kb2=) Kc4 80.Kd6 wins] 78.Kd6 c4 79.Qf2+ Re3 80.Qd2+ 1-0

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 80 Black to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 80 Black to play

because 80…Rd3 (80…Ke4 81.Qd5+ wins) 81.Qf4+ Kc3+ 82.Kc5 wins

Chapter 4 Queen versus Rook and Knight

Fortresses are an important topic here.

Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 37 Black to move
Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 37 Black to move

Here Black has a fortress. White’s obvious pawn lever is g4, so Black stops it with 37…h5! Can White exploit the g5 square? 38.Kh4 Kh6 39.Qb2 Kg6 40.Qc3 Ne4

Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 41 White to move
Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 41 White to move

41.Qc8 (41.Qf3 Nf6 42.Qg3+ Kh7 43.Qg5?? Ne4 44.Qxh5+ Kg7 45.g4 Rd8 46.gxf5 Rh8 wins for Black!) 41…Nf6 42.Qb8 R37 43.g4 hxg4 44.hxg4 fxg4 45.Qe5

Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 45 Black to move
Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 45 Black to move

45…Ng8! 46.Qg5+ Kh7 47.Qxg4 f6 48.Qg2 Kh8 49.Qe4 Kg7 drawn

Techniques to destroy fortresses are examined:

Kasparov - Ivanchuk Frankfurt 1998 Move 69 White to move
Kasparov – Ivanchuk Frankfurt 1998 Move 69 White to move

Here the rook and knight have a temporary blockade of two passed pawns. A pawn sacrifice disrupts the coordination of Black’s pieces: 69.g5!?  Nxg5?! (69…Rg6 is tougher) 70.Qg4? (A rare mistake from the former World Champion 70.Qg3! breaks the blockade 70…Rg6 71.Qe5+ Kf7 72.d6 wins; 70…Kh6 71.Qh4+ Kg6 72.d6 wins) 70…Rg6 71.Kb4 Nf7 72,Qd4+ drawn

Here a blockade could have been broken by clever manoeuvring:

Brameyer - Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 52 Black to play
Brameyer – Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 52 Black to play

This looks desperate for white who looks to be close to zugzwang. Black continued 52…Kg4?  allowing White to escape

52…Qf5! 53,Kg2 Qg4+ 54.Kh2 Qg5 55.Rd3 Qg6 56.Ne2+ Ke4 57.Rh3 Qf6+ 58.Nc3+ Kd4 59.Ne2+ Kc4 60.Kg3 Qb2 61.Rh4+ Kc5 wins

Brameyer - Pitzl Dresden 2010 Variation Move 62 White to play
Brameyer – Pitzl Dresden 2010 Variation Move 62 White to play

53.Re3! Qd2 54.Rg3+! Kh4 55.Rf3 mutual zugzwang and white held on for a draw

Brameyer - Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 55 Black to play
Brameyer – Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 55 Black to play

Queen vs Rook + Knight + Pawn

Beukema-Hausrath Dieren 2017 Move 110 White to move
Beukema – Hausrath Dieren 2017 Move 110 White to move

It is hard to believe that White can lose to here. White played 110.Qe2? which does lose and he lost quickly missing a draw when Black erred. (110.Qb7 holds along with 4 other moves) 110…Rf6+ does win for Black. Buy the book to find out how.

Chapter 5 Queen versus Rook and Bishop

Babula - Blatny Stare Mesto 1992 Move 69 Black to move
Babula – Blatny Stare Mesto 1992 Move 69 Black to move

It is hard to believe that White can win this position as the f7 square is covered by both rook and bishop and all Black’s pieces are safe and coordinated.  White failed to win this game in practice; he tried for 16 moves and gave up. However, White can force the pawn through or win a piece in 43 moves. This is a good example where computer generation of tablebases has really enhanced the understanding of the endgame and found  sophisticated winning manoeuvres in positions like these. The key piece in this type of position is the attacker’s king.

Chapter 6 Queen vs Two Rooks

The authors summarise this material imbalance thus “The rooks are slightly superior materially speaking, but this does not make them favourites automatically. It is very important, if they can get static control and their king can hide. The queen on the other hand often wants to start dynamics to overload the rooks and destroy their coordination and harmony.”

The ending of two Rooks + P v Q is covered in some depth, the theory of which is completely new to the reviewer and probably new to the reader.

The most important factor is whether the attacking king can find hiding places. This often depends on where the defending king is. It has some similarities with queen and pawn vs queen endings:

Vovk - Savchenko Move 90 White to play
Vovk – Savchenko Move 90 White to play

With a rook’s pawn, generally if White’s king is away from the action (near the pawn), the game is drawn, but it is not so easy to give a main drawing zone which was possible in the queen and rook’s pawn or knight’s pawn versus queen case, but d7 seems to be a a good square but it does not always draw.

Matters are very complex and the wins are often very long as this game shows:

90.Qg8? losing

90.Qd4+ holds 90…R5f4 91.Qd8+ Kg3 92.Qg5+ (92.Qg8+ loses in 117 moves) 92…Kf2 93.Qc5+ Re3+ 94.Kd7

Vovk - Savchenko Variation 1 Move 94 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Variation 1 Move 94 Black to play

The tablebases give this position as a draw after 94…h2 95.Qh5! Kg2 96.Qg5+ Rg3 97.Qxf4 h1Q 98.Qd2+ Kh3 99.Qh6+ with a perpetual

Vovk - Savchenko Variation 1 Move 98 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Variation 1 Move 98 Black to play

Back to the game: 90…h2 91. Qg2?! (91.Qh7+ is tougher losing in 92 moves) 91…Rf2 92.Qh1?! Kh3 93.Qa8?! Rf8 94.Qb7?!

Vovk - Savchenko Move 94 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Move 94 Black to play

94…R2f7?! (Black missed a quick win 94…Re2+ 95.Kd6 Rd8+ 96.Kc5 Rc2+ 97.Kb4 Rb2+ winning the queen) 95.Qb3+?! Rf3?! 96.Qb1 Re8+ 97.Kd7 Here White loses despite the king being on d7.

Vovk - Savchenko Move 97 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Move 97 Black to play

97…Ree3?  A natural move, throwing away the win, 97…Rh8! wins in 46 moves 98.Kd6? This was White’s last chance to draw: Black won on move 114  0-1

98.Qh7+ seizes the draw 98…Kg2 99.Qc2+ Rf2 100.Qc6+ Ref3 101.Qg6+ Rg3 102.Qc6+ Kg1 102.Qc1+ Rf1 103.Qc5+ drawing

Vovk - Savchenko Variation 2 Move 104 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Variation 2 Move 104 Black to play

As the reader can see, this endgame is very complex, even harder than queen + pawn v queen.

Here is example with the king hiding in front of the rook’s pawn in the corner:

Tiviakov - Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 108 Black to move
Tiviakov – Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 108 Black to move

Black played 108…Rb1+? throwing away the win which was to be had with 108…Kg1 in 125 moves! 109.Ka4 now White is holding and Tiviakov defends perfectly:

109… Rf1 110.Qe4 Kg1 111.Qe3+ Rgf2 112.Qg5+ Kh1 113.Qd5+ Rf3 114.Qc6 Kg2 115.Qc2+ R1f2 116.Qg6+

Tiviakov - Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 116 Black to move
Tiviakov – Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 116 Black to move

116…Rg3 117.Qe4+ Rff3 118.Qc2+ Kg1 119.Qd1+ Rf1 120.Qd4+ Kg2 121.Qe4+ Rff3 122.Qc2+ Kg1 123.Qd1+ Rf1 124.Qd4+ Rf2 125.Qd1+ Kg2 126.Qd5+

Tiviakov - Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 126 Black to move
Tiviakov – Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 126 Black to move

126…Rgf3 127.Qg5+ (127.Qg8+ loses after 127…Kf1) Kf1 128.Qc1+ Ke2 129.Qc2+ Ke3 130.Qc3+ Ke4 131.Qc4+ Kf5 132.Qf7+ Ke5 133.Qc7+ Kd4 134.Qd6+ Kc3 135.Qa3+ Kc2 ½-½

The knight’s pawn is the best pawn for the attacker. The attacker wins, if reasonably well placed and coordinated and the king safe:

Van der Wiel - Winants Brussels 1987 Move 74 Black to move
Van der Wiel – Winants Brussels 1987 Move 74 Black to move

White won quickly in about 20 moves after 74…Qf4+ 75.Kg1 Qe3+ 76.Kh1

There is no safe place for the defender’s king with a knight’s pawn.

The bishop’s pawn is surprisingly different. Here a few draws exist. One occurs with the defending king on the long side in a good position:

Markowski - Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation Move 69 White to move
Markowski – Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation Move 69 White to move

This is a theoretical draw. White can try 69.R5d4+

Or 69.Ke5 Qg7+ 70.Ke6 Qh6+ 71.Kd7 Qg7+ 72.Kc6 Qf6+ 73.Rd6 Qf5 74.R2d5 Qc8+=

Markowski - Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 3 Move 75 White to move
Markowski – Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 3 Move 75 White to move

69…Ka5! (69…Kb3? loses in 107 moves) 70.Rd6 Kb4 71.Rb2+ Kc5 72.Rbb6 Qe2+ 73.Kf5 Qh5+ =

Markowski - Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 2 Move 74 White to move
Markowski – Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 2 Move 74 White to move

White a knight’s pawn this setup does not draw because Black’s queen is too restricted on the short side:

2R+P v Q Instructive example
2R+P v Q Instructive example

1,R5e4+ Kb5 2.Re7 Qf6+ 3.Kg3 Qc3+ 4.R2e3 Qf6 5.R3e5+ Kb4 6.g5

2R+P v Q Instructive example move 6
2R+P v Q Instructive example move 6

6…Qf1 7.Kg4 Qd1+ 8.Re2 Kc3 9.Kh5 Qh1+ 10.Kg6 Qd5 11.R2e6 Qd3+ 12.Kg7 Qd4+ 13.Re5

2R+P v Q Instructive example move 13
2R+P v Q Instructive example move 13

13…Kc2 14.g6 Kd2 15.Kg8 Qd6 16.g7 Qb8+ 17.Kf7 Qb3+ 18.R5e6 Qf3+ 19.Rf6 Qd5+ 20.Ree6

2R+P v Q Instructive example move 20
2R+P v Q Instructive example move 20

20…Qb7+ 21.Kg8 Qh1 22.Rh6 Qa8+ 23.Kh7 Qa7 24.Kh8 Qa1 25.Ref6 winning

2R+P v Q Instructive example final
2R+P v Q Instructive example final

If the reader has played through this ending, it was remarkably simple to win.

With a central pawn, there is no fortress on the short side for the defending king:

2R+Central P v Q Instructive example
2R+Central P v Q Instructive example

This is winning after 1.Kd7 Qg7+ 2.e7

In general, the queen can draw when the defending king is well placed and the attacker cannot coordinate and safeguard the king. This can be very complicated and not easy to calculate:

Zwakala - De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 71 White to play
Zwakala – De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 71 White to play

White’s king is trapped on the edge but White can just hold: 71.Qb6+ Kf7 72.Kg4 R5f4+ 73.Kg5 Rf6 74.Qb1 Rg3+ 75.Kh4 Rg2 75.Kh4 Rg2

Zwakala - De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 76 White to play
Zwakala – De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 76 White to play

76.Qb3+ and lost quickly 76.Qh7+! draws 76…Kf8 77.Qh8+ Rg8 78.Qh5 e5 79.Kh3 Rg7 80.Qh4 Kf7 81.Qc4+ Re6 82.Qc7+ Re7 83.Qc4+ Kf6 84.Qc6+ Re6 85.Qf3+ =

Here is a game from the early Fischer. His opponent played 90..Kd6? and Fischer defended perfectly to draw.

Fischer - Matthai Montreal 1956 Move 90 Black to move
Fischer – Matthai Montreal 1956 Move 90 Black to move

Black could have hunted down the White king as follows: 90…Rc3 91.Kg4 Ra4+ 92.Kh5 Rc5+ 93.Kh6 Rh4+ 94.Kg6 Rg4+ 95.Kh6 Rgg5

Fischer - Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Move 96 White to move
Fischer – Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Move 96 White to move

96.Qa2 Ke8 97.Qa8+ Kf7 98.Qa2+ Rcd5

Fischer - Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Final
Fischer – Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Final

After 99.Qf2+ Rgf5 winning as 100…Rh5+ follows

General case with more pawns

In general the rooks want static control and the queen dynamic. It is extremely important for the rooks to coordinate. Examples of positions where the two rooks are better are shown below.

The reviewer gives some typical positions with a quick assessment: buy the book to go through the analysis.

In this position below the rooks have full board control. White wins easily.

Hole - Thomassen Oslo 2011 Move 35 Black to move
Hole – Thomassen Oslo 2011 Move 35 Black to move

In the position below the rooks are coordinated and white’s weak isolated pawns are easy pickings for the rooks. Black won quickly.

Shirov - Anand Linares 1998 Move 41 Black to move
Shirov – Anand Linares 1998 Move 41 Black to move

In the next position, white has just played 43.Re1 threatening Ree7, Black has to weaken his pawns to prevent the immediate loss of the f7-pawn. This is enough for white to win.

Kramnik - Andreikin Tromso 2013 Move 43 Black to move
Kramnik – Andreikin Tromso 2013 Move 43 Black to move

The queen needs targets to start dynamic play. Good for the queen are weak pawns, an exposed king, uncoordinated rooks and of course dangerous friendly passed pawns.

Queen + two connected passed pawns usually beat two rooks. The defensive setup with the rooks doubled up against the more advanced pawn can be difficult to break down. The position below is winning but takes nearly 50 moves against best defence!

Murdiza - Rozentalis Cappelle-la-Grande 2004 Move 59 Black to move
Murdiza – Rozentalis Cappelle-la-Grande 2004 Move 59 Black to move

The position below is winning for the queen as the rooks are uncoordinated and the queen has a dangerous passed c-pawn.

McShane - Mamedov Astand 2019 Move 45 White to move
McShane – Mamedov Astana 2019 Move 45 White to move

In this position the passed pawn dominates the rooks but Black is still holding out. The key to winning this game is to open a second front on the queenside to widen the bridgehead for the queen. Hence 48.c4!

Shirov - Short Yerevan 1996 Move 48 White to move
Shirov – Short Yerevan 1996 Move 48 White to move

In the next position Black has a small material advantage with two connected passed pawns. The easiest way to win is to open a second front on the queenside and create fresh White pawn weaknesses, hence 35…a5!

Giri - Aronian Leuven 2018 Move 35 Black to move
Giri – Aronian Leuven 2018 Move 35 Black to move

In the next example, there is rough material equality but the queen is winning here as White’s rooks are uncoordinated, his king is exposed and he has lots of weak pawns.

Amanov - Adams Wheeling 2012 Move 30 White to move
Amanov – Adams Wheeling 2012 Move 30 White to move

Chapter 7 – Queen versus Rook and Two Minor Pieces

Surprisingly the author does not cover the  endgame with no pawns as R+B+N v Q is drawn but is difficult to hold.

The pieces seek static control. In the position below, Black is winning but needs squares for his pieces, hence 34…g5!? After 35.fxg5 Bxg5 Black is winning as White’s pawns are going to drop off in the long run.

Vitiugov - Lysyj Kazan 2014 Move 34 Black to move
Vitiugov – Lysyj Kazan 2014 Move 34 Black to move

In the next example, the position is static with the pieces controlling everything. The queen has no targets and White’s king is safe. White will slowly and surely improve his pieces and pick off Black’s pawns.

Grischuk - Topalov Linares 2010 Move 47 Black to move
Grischuk – Topalov Linares 2010 Move 47 Black to move

In the next example, the queen has passed pawns, but they are all separated and effectively isolated, so Black’s well coordinated pieces can just collect the apple harvest after 34…Rb4!

Caruana - Le St Louis 2017 Move 34 Black to move
Caruana – Le St Louis 2017 Move 34 Black to move

The queen loves dynamic play with an exposed enemy king.

A good example is below where queen and 3 pawns fight a rook and two bishops with an exposed king. After 24.Qe6 Black is struggling to coordinate and finish development. Black put up stiff resistance but the defensive task proved too much and White won.

Karpov - Speelman Reykjavik 1991 Move 24 White to move
Karpov – Speelman Reykjavik 1991 Move 24 White to move

In the next game, a queen and two connected passed pawns supported by the king face an uncoordinated rook, bishop and knight. The queen wins effortlessly.

Kramnik - Aronian Zurich 2012 Move 30 Black to move
Kramnik – Aronian Zurich 2012 Move 30 Black to move

Chapter 8 Queen an Minor Piece vs Queen (and Minor Piece)

This topic is covered well with sections on:

  • Queen + Knight v Queen
  • Queen + Knight + Pawns v Queen + Pawns
  • Queen + Bishop v queen
  • Queen + Bishop + Pawns v Queen + pawns
  • Queen + Knight endings
  • Queen + Bishop (same colour) endings
  • Queen + Bishop (opposite colour) endings
  • Queen + Knight v Queen + bishop endings

This is particularly good chapter.

Chapter 9 Queen  + Rook  v Queen + Rook

This piece combination is a really a mixture of middlegame and endgame themes. King safety is paramount. In this game White’s king is safe whereas Black’s king is looking potentially vulnerable.

Fischer - Benko 1959 Move 33 White to move
Fischer – Benko 1959 Move 33 White to move

Fischer played the incisive 33.a4!! to open up files for his rook. If 33…b4 34.Rh5!

There is another Fischer game below. White had to play 35.Rf3. However after 35.Qf8+? Kh5 Black’s king entered the fray with decisive effect. After 36.g4+ Kh4 37.Qxf6+ Kxh3 it was all over.

Blau - Fischer Varna 1962 Move 35 White to move
Blau – Fischer Varna 1962 Move 35 White to move

Chapter 10 Queen vs. Minor pieces

The interesting endgames of queen v 2 minor pieces with no pawns are covered.

The endgame of queen v two knights with pawns is covered showing typical winning methods:

  • Overloading the knights which can only defend a limited front
  • King invasion
  • Zugzwang

Some successful fortresses are also demonstrated.

The endgame of queen v two bishops with pawns is also covered. Positions with mutual passed pawns are shown demonstrating the power of the queen. Some fortresses are shown of course.

The endgame of queen v knight and bishop with pawns is also covered. Positions with fortresses are covered with methods of breaching them covered.

Queen versus three minor pieces is by far the most interesting endgame covered with this rough material equality.

In this sort of position where the pieces are uncoordinated, the queen wins:

Berkes - Indjic Valjevo 2018 Move 36 Black to move
Berkes – Indjic Valjevo 2018 Move 36 Black to move

If the pieces are coordinated and their king is safe, they have good winning chances.

Lautier - Gurevich Munich 1993 Move 53 White to move
Lautier – Gurevich Munich 1993 Move 53 White to move

White misfired with 53.b5? (53.Qxb7 holds a draw) 53…Nd4! wins as the pieces gain static control. Eventually all the queenside pawns were exchanged and Black won on the kingside.

If the minor pieces have control even with a pawn apiece, the pieces have winning chances:

Gustafsson - Svane Bonn 2011 Move 50 Black to move
Gustafsson – Svane Bonn 2011 Move 50 Black to move

Black played 50…Qc1+? and lost the pawn and the game. 50…Qg1 just holds!

The next position is one of dynamic equality:

Nisipeanu - Radjabov Bazna Move 30 Black to move
Nisipeanu – Radjabov Bazna Move 30 Black to move

30…Bc6! 31.Qxa7 Nc5=

Chapter 11 is a pot pourri of fascinating positions that do not belong elsewhere in the book.

Chapter 12 covers some endgame studies. Every endgame book should include some studies to enhance the readers’ imaginations.

The book ends with comprehensive solutions to the exercises set in each chapter.

In summary, this is an excellent book which requires a lot of time to absorb. Some sections are much easier to absorb than others, for example the sections on two rooks v queen in the general case with many pawns is excellent and would be useful for club players and above.  The chapter on queen and minor piece v queen and minor piece with many pawns is also superb. The more difficult sections such as queen and pawn v queen are definitely worth studying and are fascinating in themselves.

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

FM Richard Webb, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 11th August 2021

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • Publisher:Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1949859312
  • ISBN-13:978-1949859317
  • Product Dimensions: ‎15.24 x 1.27 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
 Save as PDF

Tactical Training In The Endgame

Tactical Training in the Endgame, Cyrus Lakdawala, everyman Chess, Cyrus Lakdawala, 23rd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945865
Tactical Training in the Endgame, Cyrus Lakdawala, everyman Chess, Cyrus Lakdawala, 23rd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945865

From the publisher:

“Goethe once wrote, “Everything is both simpler than we can imagine, and more complicated than we can conceive.” He could well have had chess endgames in mind. Endgames have fewer pieces on the board than middlegames but this does not necessarily make them “easier” to play or understand.

Tactical expertise is, understandably, generally associated with middlegame (and sometimes opening) positions. However, tactics are also crucial in endgames – a point that is sometimes overlooked. Even some quite simple looking pawn endgames can feature complex tactical ideas. Tactics in endgames also tend to be very different to middlegame tactics.

As well as the familiar themes of pins, skewers and forks, endgames also feature unique concepts that rarely occur in middlegames such as pawn breakthroughs, manoeuvring for zugzwang and active use of the king as an aggressive unit.

In this book the highly experienced chess author and coach Cyrus Lakdawala guides the reader through the complexities of endgame tactical play. Lakdawala assembles positions that are most effective to improve tactical ability. Work your way through this book and you will undoubtedly see the results in your own games.”

end of blurb…

“Cyrus Lakdawala is an International Master, a former National Open and American Open Champion, and a six-time State Champion. He has been teaching chess for over 30 years, and coaches some of the top junior players in the U.S.”

IM Cyrus Lakdawala
IM Cyrus Lakdawala

Here is an extract in pdf format.

The reviewer is a fan of this type of book which is a really good endgame puzzle/training tome: this title does not disappoint.  The examples are a pleasing mixture of endgames from high level games; composed studies and a final chapter consisting of composed mate in two problems.

In the introduction, the author addresses the common objection to studies and problems “they are artificial and also too difficult”. He recalls a piece of advice from GM Bill Lombardy: “You don’t have to solve them. Just try for a few minutes and then look up the answer.” This is the point, the act of attempting to solve the study/problem followed by a close study of the answer will improve your analytic ability and enlarge your toolbox of recognised patterns. A lot of studies have very memorable moves/themes which once seen are never forgotten.

The reviewer can recall a particular knight and pawn endgame where I jeopardised an easy draw by missing a study like move (lack of imagination in cruise mode) but redeemed myself by scrambling a study like draw (desperation but only found because my imagination had been improved by studying studies).

Cyrus goes on to discuss training techniques to improve students’ calculation skills, tactical awareness and tactical/strategic imagination: he and the vast majority of trainers regard studies as an essential tool to aid the development of endgame mastery.

In the main seven chapters, I like the way the author breaks down the more difficult studies to aid a student/reader to solve them: it’s almost like a brain dump of his assessment/analysis process as he goes about solving the problem.

The over the board endgames include many games from masters of the endgame such as Botvinnik, Capablanca, Karpov, Smyslov, and Tal. Tal may not be immediately recognised by some as a maestro of the endgame, but his calculation skills and imagination were second to none and this made him a superb endgame player.

The studies include giants such as Afek, Grigoriev, Mitrofanov, Pogosyants, Réti, Troitzky.

The book is divided into eight chapters, the first two sections are kind of introductory followed by five chapters with different piece combinations. The final section is a set of mate in two problems.

The reviewer will showcase three or four positions from each chapter to give the reader a taster.

Here are some interesting positions from Chapter One – Deadly Simplicity.

Chigorin-Tarrasch Ostend 1905 Move 50
Chigorin – Tarrasch Ostend 1905 Move 50

This position is from the game Chigorin v Tarrasch Ostend 1905. White looks to be in terrible trouble here as black’s king is going to outflank white’s king and win material.

White played the resigned 50.gxf6 and lost shortly.  However, white does have a dastardly defence which once seen is always remembered.  50.Kg4!! Ke4 51.g6! Now white creates a stalemate defence or he can create a future passed pawn. 51…hxg6 (51…h6 52.Kh5! and the f-pawn cannot be captured as it is stalemate!)

Chigorin-Tarrasch Ostend 1905 Variation 1
Chigorin-Tarrasch Ostend 1905 Stalemate Defence

52.fxg6 f5+ 53.Kg5 f4 54.h5 f3 55.h6

Chigorin-Tarrasch Ostend 1905 Simultaneous Promotion
Chigorin-Tarrasch Ostend 1905 Simultaneous Promotion

55…gxh6+ 56.Kh6 f2 57.g7 f1Q 58.g8Q drawn

Next I shall show a lovely study which looks deceptively simple!

J.Dobias 1926
J.Dobias 1926 White Win

White to play and win.

The obvious approach to black’s pawn such as 1.Kf4? or 1. Ke5? fails to 1…Kc4 2.Kg5 Kd3 3.Kxg6 Ke4 and black gobbles the f-pawn to draw. 1.Kd5? looks tempting to shoulder barge the black king, however 1…Kb4! draws 2.Ke5 (2.f4 Kc3! draws is a major point) Kc4 3.Kf6 Kd4 4.Kxg6 Ke4 draws.

1.Kd4!! is the only way preventing the side approach, now 1…Kb4 (1…Kc6 2.Ke5 Kd7 3.Kf6 wins) 2.f4! The key point 2..Kb3 3.Ke5 Kc4 4.Kf6 wins

A really instructive problem and very game like.

The next study is white to play and win. I  remember being shown this study as a kid and solving it.

S.Kryuchkov 1927
S.Kryuchkov 1927 White Wins

1.Re8+ !! (1…Kg7 2.f6+ wins black’s rook) 1…Kxe8 2.g7 Rg8 3.f6 Zugzwang 3…Rf8 4.exf8Q+ Kxf8 5.Kd7 Kg8 6.Ke7 and wins the f-pawn and the game.

Chapter 2 – Recognizing Patterns

C.Lakdawala-Position For Analysis
C.Lakdawala – Position For Analysis White To Play

What is happening here with white to play? White can draw easily with 1.Rxe7 or 1.gxf7. Can white do better?

1.f6 looks interesting with the idea of 1…Rxe8 2.gxf7

C.Lakdawala-Position For Analysis Move 2
C.Lakdawala-Position For Analysis Move 2

Surely white is winning with 3.fxg7 to follow after black moves his rook. But analyse further! 2…Rd8!! wins as after 3.fxg7 Ke7!+ wins both pawns and the game. Cyrus had set this position as an exercise for some students, most of whom complained bitterly when they fell into the trap. The author responded that he did not specify a “white to play and win” position, he just gave them a position to analyse, just like a game! A great learning experience.

Here is a didactic opposite coloured bishop endgame.

Stein-Tarnowski Bucharest 1961 Move 51
Stein – Tarnowski Bucharest 1961 Move 51 White to move

How does white make progress here? 51.Be7 allows Kc7 blocking the king’s path into black’s position. 51.Bb8! does the trick and black resigned 1-0. If 51…Kxb8 52.Kd6 Kc8 53.Kxe6! Kd8 54.Kf6 Kd7 55.Kg7 Ke7 56.Kxh7 Kf7 57.e6+ decoying the black king, winning after 58.Kg7 and 59.h7

Here is some Troitzky magic: white to play and draw.

Troitzky 1899
Troitzky 1899 White Draws

White looks to be in desperate straits as the black’s outside passed h-pawn looks to be the decisive factor.

1.Kb6! threatening 2.a6 1…Kc8 2.a6 Kb8 3.a7+! Ka8 4.Kc7! h5 5.Kxd6 h4 6.Kxd7 h3 7.e5 h2 8.e6 h1Q 9.e7 Qd5+ This looks lost for white as an e-pawn on the seventh normally loses against a queen 10.Kc7! Qe6 11.Kd8 Qd6+ 12.Kc8! Qxe7 stalemate

Chapter 3 – King And Pawn Endgames

Here is an important idea that does occur in practice. Alexei Shirov lost a game to this idea.

Polerio 1590
Polerio 1590

This position looks to be drawn after a move like 1.Rg1 a1=Q as white wins both pawns but black’s king gets back in time to secure the draw. However white has an elegant idea to win: 1.Ra1! Kxa1 Forced as 1…Kb3 2.Kc1 Ka3 3.Kc2 wins the a-pawn and the game easily 2.Kc2 Zugzwang 2…g5 3.hxg5 h4 4.g6 h3 5.g7 h2 6.g8Q h1Q 7.Qg7#

Here is a famous finish to a game demonstrating the potential power of a breakthrough and Reti’s theme with king paths.

Em.Lasker-Tarrasch St. Petersburg 1914 Move 41
Em.Lasker – Tarrasch St. Petersburg 1914 Move 41 White To Play

White looks to be lost as after 1.Kf6 c4 2.bxc4 bxc4 3.Ke5 c3! 4.bxc3 a4 the black pawn promotes. 1.Kg6!! threatening h5 forces 1…Kxh4 2. Kf5 Kg3 3.Ke4 Kf2 4.Kd5 Ke3!

Description File URL: http://britishchessnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Em.Lasker-Tarrasch-St.-Petersburg-1914-Move-45.jpg Copy URL to clipboard ATTACHMENT DISPLAY SETTINGS Alignment None Link To None Size Medium – 300 × 300 Selected media actions 1 item selected Clear Insert into post
Em.Lasker-Tarrasch St. Petersburg 1914 Move 45

5.Kxc5 Kd3 6.Kxb5 Kc2 7.Kxa5 Kxb3 draw (A really instructive endgame lesson – kings do not have to take the most obvious path.)

Some Vasily Smyslov magic next.

Aronin-Smyslov Moscow 1951 Move 46
Aronin-Smyslov Moscow 1951 Move 46 Black To Move

White had had a vastly superior (winning) rook ending and decided to enter this king and pawn ending which he assessed as easily winning for white as he has a potential passed outside h-pawn and his king can enter via c4.   Smyslov shattered that illusion with 46…g4!! 47.h4 (47.hxg4 does not help as the potential passed pawn has disappeared and black’s king now can enter white’s position via g5 leading to a draw.) 47…c5 48.Ke2 Kh7! 49.Kd3 Kh6 waiting

Aronin-Smyslov Moscow 1951 Move 50
Aronin-Smyslov Moscow 1951 Move 50

50. c3 (white’s intended 50.Kc4 loses to the breakthrough move 50…f5! 51.exf5 e4! 52.c3 a5! zugzwang and the e-pawn promotes)  50…a5 51.cxb4 axb4 drawn (A brilliant escape for the endgame master)

Chapter 4 – Rook Endgames

A famous study but worth reproducing called Lasker’s manoeuvre/steps/ladder. This has occurred in practice in GM games.

Lasker 1890
Lasker 1890 White Wins

1.Kb8! Rb2+ 2.Ka8 Rc3 3.Rf6+ Ka5 4.Kb8 Rb2+ 5.Ka7 Rc2+ 6.Rf5+ Ka4 7.Kb7 Rb2+ 8.Ka6 Rc2 9.Rf4+ Ka3 10.Kb6 Rb2+ 11.Ka5 Rc2 12.Rf3+ Kb2 13.Rxf2! (13.Kb6?? only draws 13…Kb1! 14.Rxf2 Rxf2 15.c8=Q Rb2+ drawing by perpetual) 13…Rxf2 14.c8=Q wins

Here is some more Troitzky magic which is very game like.

Troitzky 1933
Troitzky (Extract)1933 White Wins

Black appears to be ok as his h-pawn should be enough to draw.

1.e5! fxe5+ (1…h3 2.exf6 wins as the black king will exposed to a decisive rook check) 2.Ke4! h3  3.Rh8! Rxa7 4.Rh6+ Ke7 5.Rh7+ securing the rook and the game. A very common idea in rook and pawn endgames.

Here is the end of a game Judit Polgar v Nigel Short Monte Carlo 1993.

J. Polgar-Short Monte Carlo 1993 Move 62
J.Polgar – Short Monte Carlo 1993 Move 62 White To Play

This is instructive: 61.h6+! Kf7 (61…Kxh6 62.Kf6 wins threatening mate and the rook) 62.g5!! fxg5 63.Rd8! and black cannot stop the h-pawn without giving up the rook, 1-0 in a few moves after a few spite checks.

Chapter 5 – Queen Endgames

Queen endgames are notoriously tricky and complex.

Here is an entertaining study.

J.Behting 1907 White To Play And Win
J.Behting 1907 White Wins

White looks to be in trouble as 1.Qe3!! is met by 1…f4 forcing promotion, but look further: 2.Qf2! d1=Q 3.Kc3!! zugzwang 3…f3 4.Qe3+ Kb1 5.Qb6+ Kc1 6.Qb2#

Here is an amusing study. How does white win here?

E.Pogosyants (extract) 1974 White To Play And Win
E.Pogosyants (extract) 1974 White Wins

After 1.Qxg8+ Kxg8 white can play 2.h7+ which only leads to stalemate or 2.hxg7 and although white wins the a-pawn, black’s king reaches the a8 corner in time to draw.

1.Qh8!! Qxh8 2.h7 a3 3.Kd7 zugzwang 3…Qg8 forced 4.hxg8Q+ Kxg8

E.Pogosyants (extract) 1974 White To Play And Win Move 5
E.Pogosyants (extract) 1974 Move 5

5.Ke7! Kh8 6.Kd6 Kg8 7.Kc5 Kf8 8.Kb4 Ke7 9.Kxa3 winning

Here is an amusing finish from a game Adams-Dimitrov.

Adams-V. Dimitrov Move 68
Adams-V. Dimitrov Move 68 Black to play

Black played 68…e3?? no doubt looking forward to a win over his illustrious opponent. Adams reply soon disabused him: 69.Qh3+! 69…Qxh3 stalemate (Lesson: the queen is powerful, always be on the look-out for mating and stalemating ideas)

Chapter 6 – Minor Piece Endgames

Here is a study by the great Grigoriev which shows a bad bishop endgame, but how does white breakthrough?

N.Grigoriev 1931 White wins
N.Grigoriev 1931 White wins

1.g4 creating a passed h-pawn does not win as white has no entry point for his king. So the only idea to win must be Bxh5 but white must prepare this move without allowing black’s bishop to get out of its cage.

1.Bf3 Bb7 2.Ke3! (2.Ke4? would allow black’s bishop to improve its posting 2…Bc8 and draws) Ba8 3.Ke4! Bb7 4.Kf4 Ba8 5.Bxh5! (Now black’s bishop is on its worst possible square)  Kxh5 6.g4+ Kxh4 (6…Kh6 7.g5Kg7 8.h5 Bb7 9.h6+ Kf7 10.gxf6 Kxf6 11.h7! Kg7 12.Ke5 Kxh7 13.Kd6 winning) 7.g5 fxg5+ 8. Ke4! (8.Ke5 also wins but takes much longer)  Kh5 (8…g4 9.f6 g3 10.Kf3! Kh3 11.f7 g2 12.f8Q g1Q 13.Qh8#) 9.Ke5! g4 10.f6 g3 11.f7 g2 12.f8Q g1Q 13.Qh8+ Kg4 14.Qg7+ winning the queen

Here is more Smyslov magic:

Smyslov-Yastrabov Moscow 1936
Smyslov – Yastrabov Moscow 1936

How does white breakthrough? Black looks to have a fortress.

1.b4!!  axb4 (1…cxb4 2.Bxb6 b3 3.Kd3! Be1 4.c5 Bf2 5.Kc3 Kf5 6.Kxb3 Kxe5 7.Kc4 Kxf6 8.Bd8+ Ke5 9.Bxa5 f5 10.Bc3+ Ke4 11.a5 and white pawns are faster) 2.Bxc5! bxc5 (2…b3 3.Kd3 bxc5 transposes) 3.a5 b3 4.Kxd3 Bxf6 5.a6! winning

Here is an elegant study with some brutal counterplay that is brilliantly suppressed.

A.Gulyaev 1940
A.Gulyaev 1940 White wins

1.g7!! f2 2.Be7! f1Q 3.Bf6! Qxf6! 4.gxh8Q+ Qxh8

A.Gulyaev 1941 Move 5
A.Gulyaev 1941 Move 5

5.d4! zugzwang 5…Qg7 6.hxg7 h5 7.e6! h4 8.e7 h3 9.Kd7 h2 10.e8Q+ wins

Here is Botvinnik, the master at play.

Kotov-Botvinnik Moscow 1955 Move 59 Black To Move
Kotov – Botvinnik Moscow 1955 Move 59 Black To Move

 59…g5!! 60.fxg5 d4+! 61.exd4 Kg3 (The position below demonstrates the very important “one diagonal” principle in opposite coloured bishop endings. Black’s bishop fulfils two roles on one diagonal: protecting his own b3-pawn whilst simultaneously preventing the advance of white’s passed pawns.)

Kotov-Botvinnik Moscow 1955 Move 62
Kotov-Botvinnik Moscow 1955 Move 62

62.Ba3 Kxh4 63.Kd3 Kxg5 64.Ke4 h4 65.Kf3 Bd5+ 0-1 Black wins the bishop which has to give itself up for the h-pawn and then simply captures white’s pawns winning easily.

Chapter 7 All Other Piece Combinations

Tal – Trifunovic
Palma de Mallorca (5) 1966

Tal-Trifunovic 1966.Move 45
Tal-Trifunovic 1966.Move 45

Tal had to seal in this position and he played the best move beginning a ten move combination.

45.e6! Bxe6 46.Ra7+ Bd7 47.Kh2 Rh5!

Tal-Trifunovic 1966.Move 48
Tal-Trifunovic 1966.Move 48

48.b5! Rxc5 49.Bxh3 f5 50.bxc6 Rxc6 51.Bxf5 Rd6 52.Kg3 Ke8

Tal-Trifunovic 1966.Move 53
Tal-Trifunovic 1966.Move 53

53.Rxd7! A neat simplification Rxd7 54.Bxd7+ Kxd7 55.Kg4 Ke6 56.Kg5 Kf7 57.Kf5 1-0

Here is  a jointly composed study with one of the composers being Leopold Mitrofanov of Qg5!! fame. If the reader doesn’t know what I am on about, then look it up for a real treat – arguably one of the greatest studies ever.

D.Gurgenidzw, L.Mitrofanov 1979
D.Gurgenidze & L.Mitrofanov 1979 Draw

1.Be4+ Kg3 2.Bf3! Kxf3 3.f7 Bd6+ 4.Kxd6 d1Q+ 5.Kc7!! Qxc2+ 6.Kd7 drawing (Black’s king is one square too far from the winning zone.)

Here is a superb study by Yochanan Afek.

Y.Afek 2000 White wins
Y.Afek 2000 White wins

1.b7 Qc6 2.Bd7! Qxd7 3.Rxe4+ (These checks avoid black’s stalemate defences, I will leave the reader to work them out) Ka5 4.Re5+ Kb6! (4…Ka6? 5.b8N+ wins) 5.b8Q+ Ka6

Y.Afek 2000 Move 6
Y.Afek 2000 Move 6

White is threatened with mate and has no checks. 6.Rb5!! Qxb5 7.Qa7#

Chapter 8 Composed Mates In Two

Here is a problem  – white to play and mate in two moves.

S.Dowd 2020 Mate In 2
S.Dowd 2020 Mate In 2

1.Qf1! There are four different mates. I shall leave the reader to figure them out.

In summary, an excellent endgame coaching/training manual to improve your analytic powers with some instructive, beautiful and entertaining games, studies and problems.

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 27th July 2021

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 432 pages
  • Publisher:Everyman Chess (23 July 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1781945861
  • ISBN-13:978-1781945889
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Tactical Training in the Endgame, Cyrus Lakdawala, everyman Chess, Cyrus Lakdawala, 23rd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945865
Tactical Training in the Endgame, Cyrus Lakdawala, everyman Chess, Cyrus Lakdawala, 23rd July 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781945865
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The Chess Endgame Exercise Book

The Chess Endgame Exercise Book : John Nunn

The Chess Endgame Exercise Book Paperback, JDM Nunn, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2020
The Chess Endgame Exercise Book Paperback, JDM Nunn, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2020

John Nunn has written around thirty books on chess, many of these being some of the finest published in any language : Secrets of Pawnless Endings (1994, Batsford) for example, is easily a candidate for the all time list. John is a director of Gambit Publications Ltd. together with Murray Chandler and Graham Burgess.

GM John Nunn
GM John Nunn

From the rear cover :

“Everyone knows they should work on their endgame play. So many hard-earned advantages are squandered in ‘simple’ endings… But it’s tough finding a way to study endings that doesn’t send you to sleep and that helps you actually remember and apply what you have learnt.

“While endgame theory books are helpful, active participation by the reader is a great aid to learning. I hope that this book of endgame exercises will encourage readers to put their brains in high gear, both to test themselves and to learn more about the endgame. I have spent several months selecting the 444 exercises in this book from what was initially a much larger collection.” – John Nunn

All major types of endgame are covered, together with a wide-ranging chapter on endgame tactics. Examples are drawn from recent practice or from little-known studies. The emphasis is on understanding and applying endgame principles and rules of thumb. You will learn by experience, but always backed up by Nunn’s expert guidance to ensure that the lessons you take away from the book are correct and useful.”

To get some idea of the book Gambit (via Amazon) provide a “Look Inside” at their Kindle edition.

As you would expect with Gambit, the notation is English short form algebraic using figurines for pieces. A previous criticism (ibid) has been addressed in that each diagram has a W or B “whose move it is” indicator. The diagrams do not have coordinates but this is not likely to be a problem for most.

The book is divided into 10 chapters as follows :

  1. Pawn Endings
  2. Knight Endings
  3. Bishop Endings
  4. Bishop vs Knight Endings
  5. Rook Endings
  6. Rook and Minor Piece Endings
  7. Queen Endings
  8. Endings with Queens and Other Pieces
  9. Endgame Tactics
  10. Test Papers

which is a similar sequence to that in  Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids reviewed by us.

Here on YouTube John Nunn gives the reader an introduction to the book :

So, what did we think?

This is another superb endgame book by John Nunn. This excellent tome is titled as an exercise book, so the reader will gain most by attempting to solve the puzzles, but there is no compulsion to do this: the book can also be treated as a practical endgame manual.

Most of the positions are from recent actual play and show typical positions that occur in practice and therefore show practical problems and mistakes even by very strong players. In many positions, John Nunn selects two or three obvious candidate moves and asks the reader to choose one. I like this approach as it reflects a real game and the pressure to choose between candidates.

There are some theoretical positions which are shown in many endgame primers. Some studies are included which always expand the reader’s mind by showing the beautiful rich tapestry of chess and should increase the reader’s imagination in practical play.

Each of the first nine chapters has an introductory piece over two pages which is short and pithy introducing some main principles for the forthcoming chapter: for example in the king and pawn ending section, key ideas are presented including:

Shouldering Away
Distant Opposition
Diagonal Opposition
Reserve Tempi
Assessing transitions into Q+P endings

This is followed by the exercises which vary in difficulty from 1-5. This degree of hardness is indicated by a number of stars. Level 1 is solvable by a club player; level 5 will give a Grandmaster a good workout.

Most of the chapters have a special harder exercises section.

The two biggest chapters are king and pawn endings, and rook and pawn endings which reflect their importance and relative occurrence. Many endings reduce down to bare king and pawn endings which most be understood to play the endgame at a half decent level. Rook and pawn endings are the most common as the rooks tend to be developed last: excellence in these endings is a sure sign of a strong player.

The reviewer will show a flavour of positions from the first nine chapters with varying difficulty levels.

Chapter 1 – King and Pawn Endings

This first position below in the book is a level 1 exercise and an illustration of triangulation.

Triangulation Example 1
Triangulation Example 1 White To Move

Black to move here has to move his king losing the d-pawn and the game quickly. But it is white to move and  white  wins by executing a fundamental manoeuvre as follows:

1.Ke2 Ke6 (1…Kc6 2.Kd2 is no different) 2. Kd2! Kd5 3.Kd3 and now black has the move and is in zugzwang. White has moved his king in a triangle whereas black could only move his king between two squares (because the c5 pawn restricts his manoeuvres).

Shown below is a harder example (level 3) of triangulation.

Triangulation Example 2
Triangulation Example 2 White To Move

To the casual observer this position looks to be drawn as both kings are tied up watching the opponent’s connected passed pawns. White’s pawns are further advanced and he can win with a subtle manoeuvre as follows:

  1. Kg4! White must prevent d5 and d4, 1…Kf6 (The toughest defence. 1…d5 loses to 2.Kg5 see below) 2.Kg3!  d5 (2…Kg7 3.Kf4 d5 3.Kg5 transposes) 3. Kf4 Zugzwang, black must give way 3…Kg7 4.Kg5 e3 5.h6+ Kg8 6. Kf6 e2 7.h7+ Kh8 8.Kf7 e1=Q 9.g7+ Kxh7 10.g8=Q+ Kh6 11.Qg6#

In the basic king and pawn endgame below, the author informs the reader that black has only one move to draw.

Teiitbaev-Ufimtsev Moscow 2019
Teiitbaev-Ufimtsev Moscow 2019 Black to move

This position illustrates not only the opposition but also consideration of the opponent’s pawn breaks. White has two winning ideas:

  1. Achieve the position of Ke5 v Ke7 with black to move
  2. Get in the h5 break when black cannot capture and follow up with Kg7 or Kh7 drawing

Black played 1…Kd6? guarding against the first idea but not the second. White won with 2.Kg4 Ke6 3.h5 gxh5+ 4.Kxh5 Kf7 5.Kh6 seizing the critical squares, winning.

To this end  only 1…Kf7! draws viz: 2.Ke5 Ke7 seizing the opposition or 2. Kg4 Kf7 meeting 3.h5 with 3…gxh5+ 4.Kxh5 Kg7 drawing

The next example shows an example of the distant opposition at work.

Distant Opposition
Distant Opposition White To Move

White only has one move to draw: 1.Kh2! (Seizing the distant opposition three squares apart, 1.Kg2? Ke2 2.Kg3 Ke3 3.Kg4 Kf2 4.Kh4 Kf3 5.Kg5 Kg3 wins)  1…Kd3 2.Kh3! Kd4 3.Kh4! Ke4 4.Kg4 Ke3 5.Kg3 Ke2 6.Kg2 Kd2 7.Kh2 holding the draw. White’s king has access to all the squares on the h-file, which why this defence works.

This  next struggle (at level 3) shows the importance of reserve tempi and how crucial it is to manage them precisely. This is of course coupled with exact calculation. Neither side wants to move their king as to do so loses the game. Nunn gives the reader an amusing choice between 1…a4, 1…b5 and 1…e4 stating that one loses, one draws and one wins.

McNally-Patterson Coventry 2019
McNally-Patterson Coventry 2019 Black to Move

This is highly instructive as black played the worst move, but white let him escape with a draw!

Black wins with 1…b5! gaining space and ensuring that white runs out of pawn moves first. 2.b3 c5 3.c4 (3.f3 a4!) 3…bxc4 4.bxc4 a4 5.a3  e4 winning the h-pawn 6.Kg3 Kxh5 7.Kf4 Kg6 8.Ke5 Kg5 9.Kd5 Kf4 10.Kxc5 Kf3 11.Kd5 Kxf2 12.c5 e3 13.c6 e2 14.c7  e1=Q 15.c8=Q Qd2+ 16Ke5 f4 with a winning Q ending for black

It is very instructive to look at the other two moves that Nunn suggests: it is all down to exact calculation which is why king and pawn endings are so interesting and difficult!

I shall finish the king and pawn examples with a level 5 difficulty example.

Aguilar Samper-Belmes Buenos Aires 2019
Aguilar Samper-Belmes Buenos Aires 2019 White To Move

How does white draw  here? White played 1.Kd5? and lost.

1.c5! b5! (1…bxc5? loses as 2.b5 axb5 3.a5 wins as black cannot catch the a-pawn and his own pawns are too slow. 2.axb5 axb5 White has a protected passed pawn but most play some accurate moves to draw. 3. Kd5!! (3.Kf3? loses to the triangulation technique of the second example above viz: 3…h5 4.Kg3 Kf5 5.Kf3 h4 6.Kg2 g4 7.Kf2 g3+ 8.Kf3 Ke5 9.Kg2 Ke6! 10.Kf3 Kf5 11.Kg2 Kg4 12.c6 h3+ 13.Kg1 Kf3 14.c7 h2+ 15.Kh1 Kf2 16.c8=Q g2+ mates)  3…g4 (3…h5 4.Kd6 h4 5.c6 h3 6.c7 h2 7.c8=Q h1=Q 8. Qe6+ Kg7 9.Qd7+ is a perpetual) 4.Ke4!! A brilliant switchback 4…h5 5.Kf4 Ke6 6.Kg3 Ke5 7.Kh4! Now white oscillates between h4 and g3 drawing, black cannot play his king to g5 as the white c-pawn promotes. The Kd5, Ke4 manoeuvre forced black to advance his pawns in a  sub optimal manner allowing white a blockade. A very instructive ending.

Chapter 2 covers knight endings. The reviewer will give a couple of examples. The type of position below does occur in practice quite often: the stronger side may  have won a knight on the queenside by promoting an outside passed passed pawn. How does white win?

Knight Ending Zugzwang Example
Knight Ending Zugzwang Example White To Play

Black is threatening Kf5 followed by Kg4 drawing.

White must play 1.Nd4! Kg5 (threatening Kg4 followed by h4) 2.Ke6! (The obvious 2.Ke5? throws the win away 2…Kg4 3.Nf5 Kg5 zugzwang 4.Ke6 Kg6 zugzwang) 2…Kg4 (2…h4+ 3.Nf3+ wins) 3.Nf5! Kg5 4.Ke5! Zugzwang  4…Kg4 4.Kf6 Kf3 5.Kg5 winning the pawn and the game. This is a  very common theme in knight endgames as a knight cannot lose a tempo.

The  second knight and pawn example is harder.

Warakomski-Moranda Katowice 2019
Warakomski-Moranda Katowice 2019 White To Play

White played 1.Kd5 which only draws. It looks logical as it places the king near the kingside ready for a hoped for decisive invasion. However it does not win. Passed pawns must be pushed!

White wins with 1.Kb6! Blocking his own pawn but the king must support the dangerous pawn. 1…Nxg5 2. Kb7 (Keeping the black pieces from their optimal squares. 2.Ka7? Ne6 3.Ne4 Nd4! 4.b6 Nc6+ draws) 2…Ne6 3.Ne4! g5 4.Nf6+ Kd8 5.b6 Nc5+ 6.Ka8! Ke7 7.Ne4! Nd7 8.b7 g4 9.Nc5 wins

Chapter 3 covers bishop endings.

The type of ending below is fairly common and is covered in endgame primer manuals. How does white draw?

Lysenko-Hamitevici 2019
Lysenko-Hamitevici 2019 White to move

The key factor here is the presence of the h-pawn which renders this position a draw with accurate defence, because of the edge of the board and stalemating opportunities. A similar position with pawns on the e,f & g files would be won for black.

White lost this game by playing  1.Bb5? but could have drawn as follows:

1.Kg1!  (Or 1.Kh1!) Kg3 2. Bd7! (2.Bd5? loses to  2…f2+ 3.Kf1 Kh2) 2…f2+ 3.Kf1 Kf3 4.Bxg4+ Kxg4 5.Kxf2 with a clear draw

The position below is covered in Basic Chess Endings by Fine and other primers on the endgame. How does black to play draw?

Moiseenko-Flom 2019
Moiseenko-Flom 2019 Black to move

1…Kd5! (Black played 1…Be7? Now white wins with a standard idea. 2.Bd8 Bc3 3.Bh4 Ba5 4.Bg3 and black prevent cannot prevent Bc7 blocking out the bishop and wins) 2. Bd8 Bc3 3.Bh4 Ba5 4.Be1 Bb6 5. Bf2 Ba5 6.Bg3 Kc6 (Just in time to stop Bc7, black draws) =

This chapter also has some excellent examples of opposite coloured bishop endgames which are well worth study. Buy the book to see these.

Chapter 4 covers bishop versus knight endings.

Here is a position that looks desperate for black, so he resigned. But there is a saving resource. His pieces are restricted and near the corner, so….

Baklanova-Y.Kim 2019
Baklanova-Y.Kim 2019 Black To Move

1…Kh8! (Any knight move allows the f-pawn to advance decisively) draws 2.Kf7 Ng7! 3.Bd4 (3.f6 Nh5 draws) 3…Kh7! draws as 4. Bxg7 is stalemate

The next fight shows how poorly the knight deals with rook pawns.

Esipenko-Pershin 2019
Esipenko-Pershin 2019 Black To Move

Black won with 1…Kb5 2.Kf3 Kc4 3.Ke2 Kc3 Keeping the white king away by shouldering – a common theme in all sorts of endings. Even though the pawn has not moved, white cannot draw! 4.Nf4 Kc2 5.Nd5 a5 (Finally the pawn moves) 6.Nc7 a4 7.Nb5 Be5 8.Na3+ (8.Ke3 Kb3 9.Kd3 Kb4 10.Na7 a3 11.Nc6+ Kc5 12.Na5 a2 13.Nb3+ Kb4 14.Kc2 Bf6  is a win by zugzwang – a common occurrence in B+P v N endings)  Kb3 9.Nb1 Bc3 10.Kd1 Ba5 11.Kc1 Bb4  0-1 as 12. Kd1 is met by Kb2 winning easily.

Chapter 5 covers Rook Endings.

The position shows a common type of position. Nunn asks the question, which is best 1.Rf8+, 1.Rg8 or 1.Ke5?

Ivanisevic-Madl 2018-9
Ivanisevic-Madl 2018-9 White To Move

The intermediary check gains a tempo which wins: 1.Rf8+! Ke4 Attempting to shoulder barge the white king 2. Rg8! Kf4 3.Kd5 g4 4. Kd4 1-0 as 4…h3 5.Kd3 Kf3 6.Rf8+ Kg2 7.Ke2 Kg1 8.Kf3 g2 9.Kg3 Kh1 10.Rh8+ Kg1 11.Rh2 wins

Which king move should white make in the position below?

Rahmani-Belouadah 2019
Rahmani-Belouadah 2019 White To Move

White played 1.Ke6? and lost because of 1…Re1+ which is similar to the position above. 1.Kg6 draws as white should keep his king on the same side as Black. 1…Kf3 2.f5 Ke4 3.f6 Rg1+ 4.Kh7 Rf1 5.Kg7 Ke5 6.f7 draws

How does black draw in this common type of position?

Hesitation Check
Hesitation Check Black To Play

1…Re1! 2.f6 (2.Kf6 Kb4! 3.e7 Kc5 4.Kf7 Kd6 draws after 5.f6 Kd7 or 5.e8=Q Rxe8 6.Kxe8 Ke5 draws) 2…Re5!+ (A superb hesitation check which is easy to miss, 2…Rxe6 loses to 3.f7)  3.Kg6 Rxe6 drawing.

One move wins for black in this position. What is it?

Marcelo-Fernandez Garcia 2018-9
Marcelo-Fernandez Garcia 2018-9 Black to Play

1…Rc3+! is the winner. This idea is analysed in “My Sixty Memorable Games” in a Fischer game with Gligorić (with reversed colours). Fischer comments that he spent all night analysing this rook and pawn endgame learning a lot about rook and pawn endgames.

2. Kd2  b5 (now the black rook shields the king from a frontal assault) 3.Rb1+ Rb3 4. Rh1 Ka3 5.Kc2 Rb2+! 6.Kc1 b4 7.Rh8  Rg2 8.Ra8+ Kb3 9.Rb8 Rg1+ 10.Kd2  Rb1! 11.Rb7 Ka2 and white cannot avoid the Lucena position for long.

In the example below, Dr Nunn asks which is better 1…Ke8 or 1…Kg8? This is a fundamental rook and pawn position that everyone should know.

Mutovin-Kulik 2019
Mutovin-Kulik 2019

The black king should move to the short side, so the rook can operate on the long side.

Black played 1…Ke8? which loses 2.Ra8+ Kd7 3.Rf8! The key move 3…Rf2 4.Kg7 Rg2+ 5.Kf7 Rf2 6.f6 and the Lucena will soon be reached.

1… Kg8! would have drawn 2. Ra8+ Kh7 3.Ke6 (3.Rf8 Ra1! preparing flank checks on the long side) 3…Kg7! 4. Ra7+ Kf8 5.Kf6 Kg8 repeating =

Should black play 1…Rb6, 1…Ka7, 1…Rh2?

Rook Ending Vancura Example
Rook Ending Vancura Example

Only 1…Rb6! draws setting up the Vancura position as soon as possible. 2.Kf4 Rc6 3.Kg5 Rc5+ 4.Kg6 Rc6+ 5.Kg7 Rc7+ with a standard Vancura draw. This Vancura draws only works with rook pawns.

Chapter 6 covers Rook and Minor Piece endgames.

I will show three examples of didactic positions.

This is a standard theoretical position with the king in the wrong corner (same colour as the bishop).

Edouard-Erdos 4NCL 2018-9
Edouard-Erdos 4NCL 2018-9

White wins by 1.Kf6!  (Black is threatening Bb2 followed by Bg7) 1…Be3 2.Kf7 Ba7 3.Ra6 smoking out the bishop 3…Bb8 4.Ra8 Bc7 5.Rc8 Bf4 (5…Bb6 6.Rc3 Kh6 7.Rc6+ wins the bishop) 6.Rc4 Bg5 7.Rc3 1-0 since 7…Kh6 8.Rh3+ wins the bishop

In the next game we have a rook and opposite colour bishop ending where mating ideas are always on the agenda particularly when a king is on the edge of the board.

Nakamura-Adly Internet 2019
Nakamura-Adly Internet 2019 White To Play

White won with 1.Kc7! (Threatening the brutal 2.Rb8#) 1…Bb7 2.a6! winning easily as 2…Rxc5+ 3.Rxc5 Bxa6 4. Ra5 wins

The next example shows the notoriously difficult rook and bishop versus rook ending. The reviewer has had this endgame twice in practice and won both times. This type of position is very common in this ending. Black has only one drawing move. What is it?

Ozen-Annageldiev 2019
Ozen-Annageldiev 2019 Black To Play

1…Rb7! 2.Rc2 Rb8 3.Be6 Ra8 4.Rc6 Rb8 5.Ke5 Rb7 6.Kf6 Rb8 drawing

This second rank defence is good but cannot always be reached. It does not work when the king is in the corner.

Here is a R v B with the defending king near the safe corner, however, this position is still very dangerous for white, who has one drawing move.

Czopor-Dragun 2019
Czopor-Dragun 2019 White To Move

White played 1.Bd5? and lost as follows: 1…Rd7 (Black smokes the bishop out again) 2.Bc6 Rc7 3.Bd5 Rd7 4.Bc6 Rd6 5.Bb5 Rb6 6.Be8 Rb8 7.Bg6 Rh8+ winning 1.Kh5 draws since 1…Kf5 2.Kh4 Kf4 3.Kh3 or Kh5 draws

Chapter 7 covers queen endings.

Here I will give a flavour with four endings. Here white has a strong passed pawn but white’s queen is offside. How does black impede its further advance? This type of position occurs quite frequently.

Dimakiling-Schebler Pattaya 2019
Dimakiling-Schebler Pattaya 2019 Black To Move

Black played 1…Qc5? (1…Qf3? also loses 2. Qb6 wins) 2.Kg1 Qd4 (or 2…Qc1+ 3.Kg2 winning as black cannot check on the long diagonal) 3.c7 1-0

Black can draw with 1…Qd4! (Harassing white’s king and stopping Qb6) 2.Kg1 Qd1+ 3.Kg2 Qd5+ draws as 4.f3 Qd2+ 5.Kh3 Qc1 draws

The next position shows how dangerous a queen can be: don’t forget she is a potent mating force! Black is a pawn up but white’s next few moves show how immaterial that is.

Bonnmann-Kolkin Germany 2018-9
Bonnmann-Kolkin Germany 2018-9 White To Move

White won with a mating attack as follows:

1. h5+ (1…Kg5 2.Qg7+ Kxh5 3.Qxh7+ Kg5 4.f4+ Kg4 5.Qh3#) 1… Kh6 2.Qxf6+ Kxh5 3.f4 h6 4.Qf7+ 1-0 as 4…Kg4 5.Qg6#

There are many games, even in GM praxis where the stronger side falls into a mating net trying to a avoid a perpetual.

The next game shows the notorious Q + rook’s pawn v Q ending.

Here black has placed his king onto a very poor square. Black should have put his king in the a1 corner area to draw. Even then, the defending side has to be very accurate. How does white win?

Sanal-Szustakowski Graz 2019
Sanal-Szustakowski Graz 2019 White To Play

Black’s king is very vulnerable to a cross check. White should move his king towards the 4th rank to exploit black’s king position. So:

1.Qf5!  (1.Kg7? only draws, don’t forget a queen can shepherd home a pawn without its king’s help, so white plays his king towards the rank that black’s king is on) 1…Qg2+ 2.Kf6 Qb2+ 3.Kg5 (Black has no more checks) 3…Qh8 4.Qd7+ (4.h7 is quicker) 4…Ka3 (4…Kb3 lasts longer) 5.Qe7+ Ka4 6.h7 Qb8 7.Qd7+ Kb3 8.Qd3+ Ka4 9.Qd4+ wins 1-0

Notice how black’s king position obstructs the scope of his own queen and allows a cross check.

Here is an unusual position which looks hopeless for black as white’s king looks safe and a7 followed by a8=Q looks inevitable. However, black can draw!

Q v 3 Pawns
Q v 3 Pawns Black to move

1…Kg2! Getting the king out of way to avoid any potential cross checks. 2.a7 Kf3! ( or 2…Kf2) 3.a8=Q Qg8+ 4.c8=Q Qg3+ 5.Qc7 Qg8+ 6.Ka7 Qa2+ 7.Kb6 Qb3+ 8.Kc5 Qc2+! 9.Kd6 Qg6+ 10.Kd5 Qe4+ with a draw by perpetual despite white being a queen and a pawn up!

Chapter 8 is Endings With Queens And Other Pieces

The position below is a fairly common type of position. It looks as though white can double the rooks on the b-pawn and win it followed by ganging up on the kingside pawns winning. Black can prevent this with accurate defence. How?

Dottling-Merkel Germany 2018-9
Dottling-Merkel Germany 2018-9 Black To Play

Black  played 1…Qa3? and lost 2.Rfe1 wins as 3.Re2 and 4.Reb2 followed by 5.Rxb4 cannot be prevented. 1…Qd2? also loses to 2.Rb3, but 1..Qc3! holds; white is surprisingly unable to organise his rooks to win the b-pawn. 2. Rfe1 Qd2! 3.Kf1 Qd3+ 4.Kg1 Qd2 5.Red1 Qc2 6.Rdc1 Qd2 and white is not making any progress.

Here is a rampant rook situation. White’s king is stalemated, so he is continually offering his rook with check for stalemate. Quite often there is a king manoeuvre to get out of the checks. How does black win here?

Mwale-Makoto Sandton
Mwale-Makoto Sandton Blitz 2019 Black To Play

Black played 1…Kf5? 2.Rg5+! Oops, skewering the queen, drawing instantly.

A win was to be had with 1…Kh5 (or 1…Kh6) 2.Rh4+ (2.Rg5+ Qxg5 lifts the stalemate) 2…Kg6 3.Rh6+ (3.Rg4 Qg5 wins) 3…Kf7 4.Rh7+ (4.Rxf6+ Ke7 5. Re6+ Kd8 ends the checks) 4…Ke6 5.Re7+ Kf5 6.Re5+ Qxe5 wins)

Here is a theoretical Q v R+P ending. Nunn puts the poser: which is better 1…Rc2 or 1…Rc8?

The reviewer feels a bit smug as he knew the answer to this one.

Enders-W. Watson Bundesliga 2018-9
Enders-W. Watson Bundesliga 2018-9

Black played 1…Rc2? which is a blunder because white’s king can now cross the c-file: 2.Qb1+! Kc3 3.Kc5 b3 4.Qe1+! Rd2 (4…Kd3+ 5.Kb4 b2 6.Qb1 Kd2 7.Kb3 and he pawn falls) 5.Qc1+ Rc2 6.Qe3+ Kb2 7.Kb4 winning the pawn and the game.

1…Rc8! Draws 2.Qd1+ Ka3! 3.Qd3+ Kb2 4.Qd4+ Ka3 holding the draw

Chapter 9 Endgame Tactics

White played 1.Kf3 allowing 1…Kh4 and black consolidated his advantage to win. What did white miss?

Presalovic-Vrabel Slovakia 2018-9
Presalovic-Vrabel Slovakia 2018-9

White missed a beautiful draw with 1.Qd8+ Kg4 (1…Kh6 does not help) 2.Qd1+!! Rxd1 stalemate in mid board. Very study like.

The tenth and final chapter is the test chapter.

In summary a really good book to improve the reader’s endgame knowledge and analytical skills.

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 30th May 2021

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd (16 Sept. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911465597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911465591
  • Product Dimensions: 17.15 x 1.52 x 24.77 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

The Chess Endgame Exercise Book Paperback, JDM Nunn, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2020
The Chess Endgame Exercise Book Paperback, JDM Nunn, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2020
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Happy Birthday GM Keith Arkell (08-I-1961)

GM Keith Arkell
GM Keith Arkell

We send birthday wishes to GM Keith Arkell, born this day (January 8th) in 1961.

Keith Arkell
Keith Arkell

Here is Keith’s Wikipedia entry

GM Keith Arkell (ENG)
GM Keith Arkell (ENG)

This was written about Keith aged 18 prior to the 1979 Spassky vs the BCF Junior Squad simultaneous display :

“Rednal, Birmingham. Rating 188. 2nd Lloyds Bank junior international, 1979.”

Keith was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 2014-15 season sharing with Jonathan Hawkins

Keith finally secured the Grandmaster title in 1995 as a result of the final leg of the French League Championship. Keith gained the IM title in 1985 and then made his three norms at Ostend 1990, Parthenay in France in 1993, and in the French League finishing in March. He became England’s 26th holder of the GM title.
On August 8th 2021 Keith became the 2nd British Online Champion

Here is an interview with ChessBase from 2016.

GM Keith Arkell
GM Keith Arkell

Arkell's Odyssey
Arkell’s Odyssey
Arkell's Endings, Keith Arkell, GingerGM, 2020, ISBN-10 : 1527265595
Arkell’s Endings, Keith Arkell, GingerGM, 2020, ISBN-10 : 1527265595

BCN has reviewed Arkell’s Endings in depth

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Decision Making in Major Piece Endings

Decision Making In Major Piece Endings : Boris Gelfand

Decision Making In Major Piece Endings, Boris Gelfand, Quality Chess, 2020
Decision Making In Major Piece Endings, Boris Gelfand, Quality Chess, 2020

From the Publisher’s Foreword:

“This is the fourth book in the Decision Making In Chess series. It was written over the last couple of years. A lot of work has gone into this book and the accompanying volume Technical Decision Making In Chess, which deals with a wider range of technical topics, whereas this book focuses on positions without minor pieces.

It has been four years since the publication of Dynamic Decision Making in Chess and certainly there will be one person out there wondering what happened to us and why the third volume was taking so long to complete. I hope that the content alone of these two books will answer that question.”

From the back cover:

“In Decision Making in Major Piece Endings former World Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand discusses his path to decision making in endgames involving rooks or queens, as well as the neglected “4th phase”. Countless games are decided by good or bad technique in such endgames, so readers are certain to benefit from the insights of a word-class Grandmaster on this vital topic.

Grandmaster Boris Gelfand has been an elite player for over 30 years, winning the World Cup, Olympiad Gold, the Candidates and many other top tournaments. Grandmaster Jacob Aagaard is the only chess writer to have won all the major awards for chess writing. ”

Boris Gelfand, FIDE Grand Prix, London, 2013, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Boris Gelfand, FIDE Grand Prix, London, 2013, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Reaction to previous volumes in the series:

In 2015 Positional Decision Making In Chess won the ECF Book of the Year award.

“The most interesting chess book I have read in the last quarter-century.” Mikhail Shereshevsky on Positional Decision Making in Chess.

This new Quality Chess publication Decision Making In Major Piece Endings uses high quality paper and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each major diagram has a “to move” indicator. Where a “to move” indicator is not present, it is obvious which colour is to move from the accompanying moves in a variation.

Each chapter is introduced with a contemporary photograph of a player or players or a tournament  scene which  launches each chapter in a engaging manner. This is followed by a Diagram Preview page which shows the critical analytical diagrams in the following chapter and invites the reader to practise their analysis and decision making! If you can work out most of the variations you are a world champion.

The introduction of this book makes it clear that this book is not an endgame primer or manual on basic major piece endgames as there are plenty of these theoretical works already in existence.  Knowledge of very basic rook and pawn endgames such as the Lucena and Vancura positions is assumed.  This book is “about decision making at the board and learning from your games – and those of others. In this book I will discuss topics that have arisen in some of the most interesting games without minor pieces during my career. We will encounter rook endings, queen endgames and games in what Romanovsky called the fourth phase, which is essentially later middlegames/early endings where only major pieces remain.”

The introduction also guides the reader on how to study the endgame: 1. knowledge of basic positions and their key variations and ideas must be known; 2. improving deep analytical skills; 3.  development of intuition. This book concentrates on improving items 2 & 3 above. The author suggests how to best use the book by first analysing the endgames without a chess engine and/or tablebases to prevent lazy thinking by relying too heavily on engine assessments without understanding.

Despite the fact that the introduction claims that this book is not an endgame primer, there are a couple of excellent chapters on theoretical endgames. They are covered from a practical point of view and Gelfand draws out the key defensive ideas by concentrating on patterns and key positions.   More on these chapters later. There are other basic endgame positions interspersed in other chapters which are reached from long variations but are nevertheless didactic as the theoretical endgames are shown in context within the whole endgame and the reader is clearly shown how these positions can be reached in practice.

Here is an critical position from the game Julian Hodgson – Boris Gelfand played at Groningen 1996. Both players misevaluated this ending as they both thought that black was easily winning. At the time, endgame theory agreed with them. Modern tablebases give this as a clear draw as black cannot hide his king from the checks with accurate defensive play from white.

Hodgson-Gelfand 1996
Hodgson-Gelfand 1996

The game continued 86.Qe8+? The losing mistake. The black king escapes the checks by stepping in front of the pawns. 86.Qe6!, the most natural waiting move was still drawing. (86.Qd7! also draws). 86…Qf8 87. Qe2+ g4 88. Qe5+ Kh6 89. Qe6+ Kg5 90. Qe5+ Qf5 91.Qg7+ Kf4 92. Qc7+ Qe5 93. Qf7+ with a draw. 86… Kg4 87. Qe6+ Qf5 88.Qc4+ Kg3 89. Qc7+ Qf4 0-1

The author makes the point that if white had known that the endgame was a draw, and knew a few general ideas, he would have probably drawn the game. But when you think it is lost, psychologically it is impossible to hold it, particularly in an increment finish. A lot of the top players do not think in terms of lost or not: they concentrate on looking for ideas (to make life difficult for the opponent).

Chapter 1  – The Importance of Analysis

The title of the chapter is self explanatory and Gelfand stresses the need to study complicated endgames in depth and understand all the nuances. There are some superb examples of brilliant analysis. Here is one such position where Gelfand did not discover the right idea until 2018:

Suetin-Portisch 1973
Suetin-Portisch 1973 (variation)

It is black to play, clearly 60…d1=Q 61. Rxd1 Kxd1 62. Kf3  is not good enough to win. Black to play can win with 60…Rc4!! 61. Rb1 Rc1 62. Rb2 Rf1!!  cutting the king off from the e-file (62…Ke3? 63. Rxd2 Kxd2 64.Kf4 draws shouldering the black king) 63. Kg4 Ke3 64. Rxd2 Kxd2 65. Kg5 Ke3 wins as black’s king is now available to hunt the pawns down.

Chapter 2 Do Not Hurry

The “Do not hurry” concept is a key concept that I first encountered in Shereshevsky’s classic Endgame Strategy. In the position below, this principle can be demonstrated aptly.

Giberto Hernandez Guerrero-Gelfand
Giberto Hernandez Guerrero-Gelfand

Converting this position is covered in detail with a key discussion on exchanges which is enlightening.

This rook ending could have occurred and black’s winning’s manoeuvre is instructive:

Gilberto Hernandez Guerrero-Gelfand Merida 2003
Gilberto Hernandez Guerrero-Gelfand Variation

63…Rc5 64. Rc7 Rc3+ 65. Kf2 Rc4 66.Kg3 Now the black rook has been optimally placed, it is time to improve the king to the maximum, while keeping the best possible pawn structure, which is to keep the pawn on g7 and play …f6, so that White does not have Rc8 followed by c6-c7. If the pawn would be on g6 in that position, Rg8 would  eventually come and save a draw. The best black would achieve is f- and h- pawns, but not in favourable circumstances. With the pawn on g7, …Rxc7 will always come as a response to Rg8 and black wins trivially. 66…Kf6 67.Kh3 Kg6 68.Kg3 f6 And black wins after either 69.Kh3 Kh6! followed by the advance of the g-pawn, or 69.Rc8 Kf5! and the advance of the king.

Chapter 3 – Three Surprisingly Complicated Rook Endgames

This is a variation from an interesting rook and pawn endgame Boris Gelfand – Lars Bo Hansen Wijk aan Zee 1993:

Gelfand-Hansen (variation)
Gelfand-Hansen (variation)

White wins with the instructive 64.Rc7!! preparing to cut black’s king off along the fifth rank 64…Rh1 65.Rc5! and if 65…Kd6 66.Rc6+, white can then simply queen the b pawn winning black’s rook whilst black’s king is unable to support his own pawn.

Here is another common type of position taken from a variation in the game Gelfand-Vladimir Kramnik Zurich 2017. White is clearly much better as his king supports his pawn and black’s king is not in the game. But how does white win?

Gelfand-Kramnik Variation
Gelfand-Kramnik Variation

The answer is simple once you see it. 48.Rc3!! Kf6 49. Rc2! and wins

Chapter 4 Two Defensive Methods in Rook Endings

This chapter is one of the theoretical chapters which covers rook and four against three all on one side and rook against three connected passed pawns. This section is well constructed with coverage of all the major positions and ideas in the 4 v 3 ending.

Some famous games are included which must be present in every treatise on rook endings. Here is one such ending from: Mikhail Botvinnik v Miguel Najdorf Moscow 1956:

Botvinnik-Najdorf Moscow 1956
Botvinnik-Najdorf Moscow 1956

White is winning here because he can create a passed e-pawn and he has fixed the pawn structure with h5 leaving an entry point for the king on g6. The game continued 61…Kf7 62. Ra5 Rc7 63. Rd5 Ra7 64. e5 fxe5 65. fxe5 Ke7 66.e6 Ra4 67. g5! providing cover for the king 67…hxg5 68.Rd7+ Kf8 69.Rf7+ Kg8 70.Kg6 g4 71.h6! gxh6 72.e7 Ra8 73.Rf6 There is no defence to Rd6 and Rd8 with mate.

The celebrated endgame Capablanca-Yates Hastings 1930 is of course covered in great detail. The analysis of the famous position is covered in great depth showing the defender’s best defence which is tricky to crack. It is revealing to note that even the great Cuban World Champion let the win slip at one point. I suggest that the reader buys the book to study this superb analysis.

Capablanca-Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca-Yates Hastings 1930

The position below is the celebrated game Piket-Kasparov Internet 2000 because Kasparov misplayed a drawn endgame so badly. We must not be too hard on the former World Champion as it was a rapid game and Kasparov is a superb endgame player.

Piket-Kasparov Move 42 Internet 2000
Piket-Kasparov Move 42 Internet 2000

The game continued: 42.Kh3 Re3 43.Kh4 Kg7?! Black does not have to let the white king into g5. 43…Kh6! 44.Rc7 Re2! 45h3

Piket-Kasparov Move 42 Internet 2000
Piket-Kasparov Variation 1

Now, 45…Rxe5! 46.Rxf7 Re4 47.g4 Rxf4! forces a quick draw.

The game continued: 44.Kg5 Re1? (The final mistake: black can hold with 44…Ra3 45.Rc7 Ra5 and white is stymied) 45.Rc7 Re2 46.Re7 Ra2 The following variation is the key to why white is winning: 46…Re1

Piket-Kasparov Move 42 Internet 2000
Piket-Kasparov Variation 2

47.e6! Rxe6 48.Rxe6 fxe6 49.h3 Despite material equality, black is lost as he is in zugzwang. 49…Kf7 50.Kh6 Kf6 51.g4 h4 52.g5+ Kf5 53.Kg7 Kxf4 54.Kxg6 e5 55.Kf6 e4 56.g6 e3 57.g7 e2 58.g8=Q e1=Q 59.Qg4+ Ke3 60.Qe6+ exchanging queens and winning

In the game, black lost in a similar manner to Botvinnik-Najdorf:

47.f5! gxf5 48.e6 h4 49.Rxf7+ Kg8 50. Kf6 1-0

Piket-Kasparov Move 47
Piket-Kasparov Move 47

The final two positions in this chapter concern Rook v 3 connected passed pawns.

Rook v 3 pawns (1)
Rook v 3 pawns (1)

White to move wins with 1.Rf8, black to move draws only with 1…Kg7! preventing the rook from moving behind the base of the chain.

Similarly in the mirror position, white to move wins with 1.Rh8, black to move draws with 1…Kg7!

The core of the book (chapters 5 to 8) is a series of four chapters deeply analysing three rook and pawn endgames of Gelfand’s against world class opposition. The games are shown in their entirety which is the modern way to study endgames in relation to the opening and middlegame.

Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation
Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation

This position from a variation in the game Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov from Baku 2014 caught my eye. Black to play – what should he do? 59…Kf5!! The obvious move is to push the pawns with 59…g4. Let’s see what happens: 60.Rc6! f5 61.Rxa6 Kg5 62.Rb6 h3 63.Kg3 f4+ 64.Kh2 Kf4 65.Rh6+ Kg5

Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation2
Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation2

66.Rh8! Kf5 67. Rg8! Black is in zugzwang and loses all the pawns.

60.Rc6 a5 61. Rc5+ Kg6 62.Rxa5 f5 and black prevents the rook from reaching f8. This is obvious when one has knowledge of the basic endgame rook v 3 connected pawns shown above! The author has shown an excellent example of knowing your basics being applied to a real live game.

Chapter 9 Queen Endings with a g- or h- pawn

This is one of the reviewer’s favourite chapters as it combines endgame theory with practical examples showing that even strong GMs do not know how to defend these endings correctly. Even when players know where to put their defending king, choosing the correct check to draw is not obvious!

Here is a position from Gelfand-Jobava from Dortmund 2006.

The reviewer loves this endgame.

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 50)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 50)

This king and pawn ending is clearly drawn but white is pressing with a more advanced king. White played 50.h4 setting a subtle trap. 50…h5?? losing, incredible to believe but it is true. 50…Kd7 draws, for example 51.g4 f6+ 52.Kd5 e6+ 53.Kc5 h6 54. e5 fxe5 55.fxe5 Kc7 seizing the opposition and drawing 51.f5! f6+ 52.Ke6 gxf5

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 53)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 53)

Now white played 53. e5!! which had been completed missed by black (automatic recapture syndrome) fxe5 54.Kxe5 Kd7 55.Kxf5 Kd6 56.Kg5 Ke5 57.Kxh5 Kf4

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 57)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 57)

Now white can enter a winning queen endgame with 58.Kg6!

White did not play the endgame perfectly, and after many adventures this position was reached at move 87. Black is drawing here if he places his king in the drawing zone which is the far corner diagonally opposite where the g pawn is hoping to queen i.e. a1.

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 87)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 87)

87… Ka5? was played which loses. I am surprised that a strong GM moved his king the wrong way. 87…Ka3 draws but the draw is not simple. 88.g7 and now black can draw with an accurate sequence of moves that are not obvious. 87… Qe5+ (the obvious 87… Qg3+ loses in 41 moves) 89.Kg6 Qe6+ 90.Kh7 reaching the drawn position below.

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 90)
Gelfand-Jobava (Variation Move 90)

90…Qf5+ 91.Kg8 Qf4! (only move) draws, 90…Qh3+ 91.Kg8 Qf5! (91…Qe6+ loses) also draws

The game continued 88.g7 Qe5+ 89.Kg6 Qe6+ 90.Kh7 Qf5+ 91.Kg8 Ka4 92. Qh1 Qc8+ 93. Kh7 Qf5+ 94. Kh8 Qe5 reaching the position below:

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 95)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 95)

Now 95.Qh3! wins cutting off he black king from the drawing zone. Gelfand won  the game easily after another 18 moves. The best defence involves white winning by transitioning through the two diagrams below exploiting black’s king position to misplace the black queen. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

Gelfand-Jobava (Move 116 variation)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 116 variation)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 133 variation)
Gelfand-Jobava (Move 133 variation)

Chapter 10 – Multiple Queens

This section is entertaining with some really exciting and amusing positions. Here is one such position:

David Anton Guijaro-Alejandro Franco Alonso
David Anton Guijaro-Alejandro Franco Alonso

This looks like a fairly standard queen and pawn ending. Black is  a pawn down but is to play and played the obvious capture 55…Qxb2? which is simply too slow. 55…b4! was the drawing move.  White has two tries: 56.axb4  is the only real winning attempt but falls short: 56…Qxb2 57. Qh7+ Ke6 58. Qxh6 a3 59. Qg6 a2 60.h6 a1=Q 61.h7 Qe2! forcing white to take a perpetual. Or 56. Qh7+ Ke6 57. Qxh6 Qxe4+ 58. Kh2 Qe2 with sufficient counterplay against the white king to draw. The game continued: 56.Qh7+ Ke6 57. Qxh6 b4 58. Qg6 bxa3 59. h6 a2 60. h7 a1=Q reaching the position below.

After move 60
Two queens each

61. Qf5+?  Driving the king towards safety: 61.h8=Q wins instantly, with a quick mate.) Kd6 62. h8=Q Kc5! 63. Qf8+ Kc4 64. Qe6+ Kd3 65. Qfxf6 Qd4 66.Qf3+ Kd2 67. Qh6+ Kc2 68.Qc6+ (the computer prefers 68.Qe2+ Kc3 69.Qc6+ Kb4 70. Qb7+ Ka3 71. Qe7+ Kb3 72. Qf7+ Kb4 73.g4 and white is winning)  Kb1 69. g4 Qab2 70.g5 a3 71. g6 a2 72. g7 a1=Q 73. g8=Q Qaa3 74. Qgg3 ? (74. Qcf6 keeps the advantage) reaching this position:

3 queens each

This is the beautiful but sad moment of the game. Black played 74…Qxf3+? and went on to lose quickly. 74…Qdxf2+!! draws by sacrificing all three queens for stalemate, for example 75. Qfxf2 Qxg3+ 76. Kxg3 Qc3+ 77. Qxc3 stalemate. Fantastic! Who says there is no humour in chess ?

Stalemate

Chapter 11 – Full Circle

This chapter covers the famous game Botvinnik-Minev Amsterdam 1954 which goes into a celebrated Q + g pawn v Q ending which Botvinnik won from a drawn position. As Boris Gelfand points out, once we know that an article written by Paul Keres in the 1947-1949 Soviet Yearbook  recommended that black place the king on a4, black’s moves become completely understandable.

Botvinnik-Minev
Botvinnik-Minev

56.Qg4+ Ka5? This is still a draw but modern knowledge recommends Ka3 heading towards the opposite corner. 57.Qxe6 Qh8+ 58.Kg6 Qc3 59.g4 Qd2 60.g5 Qd4? Centralisation looks good, but in fact loses. 60…Ka4! was best, several other moves also draw.

Botvinnik-Minev Move 60
Botvinnik-Minev Move 60

Now 61. Qf5+? allowing black to draw. 61. Kh7! Qh4+ 62.Qh6 followed by g6, the black king is too far from the a1 corner 61…Ka4 62. Kh5 Qh8+ 63. Kg4 Qh1? The final mistake, after this Botvinnik wins with no slip-ups. Buy the book to find out how. 63…Ka3! was correct.

Chapter 12 – Conversion in the 4th Phase

This chapter covers a complex Q and double rook late middlegame which reveals the complexities of such positions. The game clearly shows that a sustained initiative is so potent.

This is a critical position from the game Gelfand-Edouard. Black is under the cosh but can defend with 35…Qxe5! 36. Qxa7 Rg6! 35.Qb7 Rxg3+! 36.fxg3 Qe3+! 37. Kh2 Qh6+ with a perpetual check.

Gelfand-Edouard
Gelfand-Edouard

The penultimate chapter is a series of studies which are elegant and instructive. There is a particularly beautiful study by Darko Hlebec. Buy the book to appreciate the beauty of chess.

The final chapter is a series of  rook exercises which are extremely didactic. If you can solve all of these, you are a World Champion.

I heartily recommend this superb book on major piece endgames which is a labour of love and hard work. It combines practical examples with coverage of basic endgame positions.

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 16th November 2020

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb
  • Paperback : 320 pages
  • Publisher:Quality Chess UK LLP (28 April 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1784831395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1784831394
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 1.55 x 24.43 cm

Official web site of Quality Chess

Decision Making In Major Piece Endings, Boris Gelfand, Quality Chess, 2020
Decision Making In Major Piece Endings, Boris Gelfand, Quality Chess, 2020
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Arkell’s Endings

Keith Arkell is an English grandmaster active on the national and international scene for more than forty years and very much still going strong.

GM Keith Arkell (ENG), Courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Keith Arkell (ENG), Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Arkell’s Endings is his second book and this is the first book (as opposed to DVD) from Ginger GM

Arkell's Odyssey
Arkell’s Odyssey

Arkell’s Odyssey was published in 2012 by Keverel Chess Books; hugely popular and in high demand on abebooks, Amazon, eBay and other reselling platforms.

From the rear cover of Endings we have the following publishers blurb :

“With chess booming online and time controls becoming ever faster, mastery of the endgame has never been so important. A few positions can be memorised; most rely on feel. How would you go about converting an extra pawn in a rook endgame and would you have any idea how to even try to win bishop and knight against knight and pawn? In Arkell’s Endings, acclaimed endgame expert Keith Arkell guides you through some of his finest games – and grinds. Making good use of clear explanation, not a wealth of variations, he should convince even the most ardent of opening theoreticians and attacking experts that endgames can be enjoyable, as well as beautiful on occasion.

Not only will readers enhance their intuition in the final stages of the game, they will never again write off an endgame as dull or a draw. Along the way, the reader will also learn plenty about the Minority Attack and Arkell’s Scale of Pawns, which may mean you will no longer look favourably on trading an e-pawn for a d-pawn. As becomes clear in Simon Williams’ Afterword, there is so much more to Keith Arkell’s chess prowess than just his endgame mastery. Throughout, his creativity and sheer resourcefulness shine through, with the Ginger GM demonstrating that one should never allow Arkell to advance his g-pawn as Black, or even to attack.

Grandmaster Keith Arkell has been one of Britain’s most prolific players since turning professional in 1980. His rivalry on the weekend circuit with fellow GM Mark Hebden is the stuff of legend, but he has also thrived on the bigger stage. He has finished first as many as 25 times at the Paignton International Congress and in 2008 tied for first in the British Championship at Liverpool’s iconic St George’s Hall. 2014 was another highly successful year, as Arkell became the European Over-50 Champion, following that up with the silver medal at the World Senior Championships.”

Keith has developed a reputation for working hard at the board and not being afraid to grind out a position maybe with a small edge or even no edge at all and just keep on plugging away (Carlsen style). His long time choice of the Smyslov Variation of the Caro-Kann as Black is deal for this approach.

White to play and loose !

To demonstrate that this is a book of note there is a foreword by acknowledged endgame analyst and World Championship Candidate, GM Jonathan Speelman whose expertise on endings and the theory of corresponding squares is respected world-wide. Interestingly enough, JS also selects the Smyslov Caro-Kann as a weapon of choice.

Arkell’s Endings contains 33 games spanning the period from 1983 to the present day against a vast range of player strength and experience.

Keith introduces his games with a preamble / Introduction that sets out his rather unique playing philosophy. Keith describes his “Hierarchy of Pawns” which makes complete sense and yet is rarely (if at all) spelt out in training and coaching literature. Keith sets out his enthusiasm for the Carlsbad (pawn) structure which I learnt much about from Kevin Wicker in his golden nugget of a book, “How to play the Queen’s Gambit Exchange Variation“. This Introduction itself is more instructional than you might at first imagine.

Keith provides each game in full and rarely makes any comment on the opening except when its choice leads to particular kind of endgame structure. The middlegame comments indicate plans and ideas to reach a superior ending and the endgame comments are quite specific.

We are grateful to IM Richard Palliser (in charge of the book’s production) for permission to reproduce game 14 as an excerpt :

and there is a downloadable excerpt here

Settling down with this book is a real pleasure. It very much feels that Keith is in the room with you explaining his thought processes and giving you confidence in your decision making. Keith’s writing style is much like Keith in person : friendly and affable and not attempting to score any points.

The book concludes with an Afterword by Ginger GM Simon Williams.

The Afterword itself is of interest since Simon presents three tremendous games of Keith that are not endgame grinds but great tactical slugfests modestly including Williams – Arkell from Torquay, 1998.

The book concludes with a welcome Index of Opponents.

If you are wondering just how many of these games conclude with Keith’s signature Rook + Bishop versus Rook then you will have to buy the book to find out : I hope you will !

This book has been reviewed elsewhere including this one by Ben Graff

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 10th October, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 159 pages
  • Publisher:GingerGM; 1st Edition (3 Aug. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1527265595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1527265592

Official web site of Ginger GM

Arkell's Endings, Keith Arkell, GingerGM, 2020, ISBN-10 : 1527265595
Arkell’s Endings, Keith Arkell, GingerGM, 2020, ISBN-10 : 1527265595
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Birthday Greetings GM Jonathan Speelman (02-x-1956)

GM Jonathan Speelman at 4NCL in 2014, courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Jonathan Speelman at 4NCL in 2014, courtesy of John Upham Photography

We wish GM Jonathan Speelman all the best on his birthday.

Jonathan Simon Speelman was born on Tuesday, October 2nd, 1956 in Marylebone, London. His mother’s maiden name was Freeman. In March 2002 Jon and Lindsey Thomas were married in Camden, Greater London. They have a non-chess playing son, Lawrence who studied Ancient Languages at The University of Chicago.

Jonathan attended St. Paul’s School, London and then Worcester College, Oxford and read mathematics.

He became an International Master in 1978 (England’s tenth) and a Grandmaster in 1980 (England’s fifth) and achieved a peak FIDE rating of 2645 at the age of 32 in July 1988.

Jon is a Life Member of King’s Head Chess Club and has helped them organise a number of tournaments including the NatWest Young Masters where has adjudicated the winner of the Best Game Prize.

Currently, Jon plays for Wood Green in Four Nations Chess League and in the London League and maintains an ECF grade of 245.

With the white pieces Jon prefers 1.Nf3 and against 1…Nf6 to follow with c4 and d4. Interestingly, if black plays 1…d5 then Jon play an early king-side fianchetto.

As the second player Jon prefers the Smyslov Caro-Kann, the Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Indian defences.

His record against contemporary players is impressive :

Nigel Short : +5
Murray Chandler : +4
Jonathan Mestel : +4
John Nunn : +3
James Plaskett : +4
Mark Hebden : +7
Tony Miles : +1
Tony Kosten : +3
Daniel King : +2

Jon Speelman and Nigel Short at the start of their 1989 Candidates match. Jon won 3.5 - 1.5
Jon Speelman and Nigel Short at the start of their 1989 Candidates match. Jon won 3.5 – 1.5

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

“Having been asked to contribute an article on myself to this book I have decided to concentrate almost exclusively on my ‘relationship with chess’, but first quickly summarize my life.

JS
JS

Born on 2nd October 1956 I went to a ‘Nursery School’ whose name I forget. Then to Arnold House School followed by St. Paul’s School. I had a ‘Year off’ from January to October, 1976, when I went up to Worcester College, Oxford, where I studied mathematics. In 1977 I left Oxford with a 2nd degree. Since then I have been a professional chess player.

I was taught chess at the age of 6 by my cousin on Boxing Day, 1962. Then as now, I was an inquisitive person and the idea of a ‘complicated and difficult game’ interested me. Sadly my first game of chess ended in checkmate in four moves; but I persevered and soon became more competent.

JS at the London based Philips & Drew Kings tournament
JS at the London based Philips & Drew Kings tournament

I have always seen life to some in terms of barriers. There are things which one can do easily and which one finds difficult or almost impossible. For any given task the transition from one state to the other is not as smooth. One builds up energy and finally is able to succeed for the first time. After that the task becomes successively easier: Partly because one is aware that one can succeed.

Jonathan Speelman without glasses
Jonathan Speelman without glasses

ln order to illustrate my chess career to date, I shall therefore pick out examples of barriers which I managed to break through.

Jonathan was an early follower of fashion
Jonathan was an early follower of fashion

Until a few Years ago there were few titled players in Great Britain. But recently, thanks largely to a change of emphasis in organisation, several players have broken through to obtain international titles. This is not only because British players have become stronger – which they undoubtedly have – but also because they have received opportunities which were previously denied them.

JS at the London Robert Silk Fellowship invitational tournament
JS at the London Robert Silk Fellowship invitational tournament

I first started seriously to contemplate becoming an international master in 1977. Previously, I had of course aspired to this but without really investigating the mechanics of obtaining norms. In August, 1977 England sent a team to the World Student Team Championships in Mexico City. We came third: a year later we were to win the event (though on that occasion it was a World Under 26 Team Championship). On our return there was an invitation tournament in London: the ‘Lloyds Bank Silver Jubilee’. Although I was rather tired after Mexico I decided to play and to my surprise, I obtained an IM norm with a round to spare. It all seemed rather easy. I drew with six strong players including GM Torre and four IM’s and beat three weaker ones.

Grandmaster Uses PressTel Chessbox to Play Long Distance Chess. Jonathan Speelman the UK Grandmaster is pictured here deciding his next move in a computer chess game against five simultaneous opponents. Players exchanged moves online via the ChessBox club on PressTel, BTs videotex service.
Grandmaster Uses PressTel Chessbox to Play Long Distance Chess. Jonathan Speelman the UK Grandmaster is pictured here deciding his next move in a computer chess game against five simultaneous opponents. Players exchanged moves online via the ChessBox club on PressTel, BTs videotex service.

In December, 1977 I played for the first time in the Annual Grandmaster Tournament at Hastings. I was very pleased to ‘shut up shop’, abandoning any pretensions to an exciting style to score one win, one loss and – wait for it – twelve draws; but 7/14 was sufficient for another international master norm.

These two events left me with twenty three games of norm, one less than the required minimum. Early in 1978 I played in a tournament in London but failed to get my final leg. It was in April that year that I had my next chance at the famous Lone Pine Tournament in California. I have already stressed the importance of barriers. It was in round one of the Lone Pine tournament that I broke through another important one – that of beating a grandmaster.

JS was a frequent giver of simultaneous displays
JS was a frequent giver of simultaneous displays

Nowadays (and here I hear myself sounding like an old man!) the strongest young players (under twenty-six) beat international masters quite regularly and indeed grandmasters from time to time. ‘In my day’ this was not so much the case. Titled foreign players could still come over to pillage weekend tournaments; and succeed much of the time! When one of them lost to homegrown talent it was news.

IM Jonathan Speelman vs IM Simon Webb at the 1978 British Championships in Ayr, Courtesy of John Upham
IM Jonathan Speelman vs IM Simon Webb at the 1978 British Championships in Ayr, Courtesy of John Upham

I first started to play regularly against grandmasters in my first Hastings tournament, which I mentioned previously. Of course, I had played grandmasters before, but at Hastings seven of the fourteen games were against them. I scored there six draws and a loss to the tournament winner, Dzindzihashvili.

Julian Hodgson and Jonathan Speelman prepare to play each other at their own home via CEEEFAX. This was organised by Peter Andrews of BBC Chess Club and was the first match of its kind.
Julian Hodgson and Jonathan Speelman prepare to play each other at their own home via CEEEFAX. This was organised by Peter Andrews of BBC Chess Club and was the first match of its kind.

In round one of Lone pine I was White against Bent Larsen of Denmark. Given that one is going to beat a strong grandmaster (l hadn’t even beaten a weak
one) then White against Larsen is quite a good chance. Although he is an extremely strong player, Larsen loses quite a lot of games to much weaker opponents and wins an enormous number against them as well, with not many draws. I was fortunate in obtaining a nice position from the opening and won a good game. That is one of the games I have chosen.

JS receives one of many awards
JS receives one of many awards

After beating Larsen the rest of the tournament was rather an anticlimax for me. I drew some games, then lost in successive rounds to Browne and Biyiasas. Needing a win to reach fifty per cent the chance of my final norm, I clawed my way to victory in a dreadful game against a young American P.Whitehead. Two short draws in the final two rounds brought me the title.

At the Praxis British Zonal in February 1987 here at the roman baths. Murray Chandler, Jonathan Speelman, and Jonathan Mestel
At the Praxis British Zonal in February 1987 here at the roman baths. Murray Chandler, Jonathan Speelman, and Jonathan Mestel

Some years ago the British Championship really was the Championship of Britain. But in the early seventies there was a decline as several of the strongest players did not enter. In the last two years the decline has been halted and then reversed by the sponsorship of stockbrokers Grievson Grant. In 1979 two of our four Grandmasters, Miles and Nunn, competed in the British Championship at Chester and there were no fewer than six International Masters; indeed Nigel Short succeeded in obtaining his first IM norm there.

JS plays Alexander Khalifman during the SWIFT World Cup in Reykjavik, 1991. The game was drawn
JS plays Alexander Khalifman during the SWIFT World Cup in Reykjavik, 1991. The game was drawn

I first competed in the British Championship at Brighton in 1972. After a good start, beating Michael Basman in the first round and drawing with Craig Pritchett in the second, I lost to Haygarth in round three. Thereafter, I found it incredibly difficult to win games. My old British Chess Magazine reminds me that I succeeded in winning in round nine, but that was the only one after round one. I finished with 4.5/11.

JS, Jana Bellin and Nigel Short in a publicity shoot outside Simpsons in the Strand
JS, Jana Bellin and Nigel Short in a publicity shoot outside Simpsons in the Strand

A year later at Eastbourne I was still finding it hard to win games. Again I finished with 4.5/11. By Clacton, 1974 I had improved. A loss in the last round to the eventual winner Botterill left me a point behind the seven (!) who had to play off for the title.

I competed at Morecambe, 1975 and Portsmouth, 1976, missing only Brighton, 1977 when the students team was in Mexico. By Ayr, 1978 I was probably one of the favourites along with Jonathan Mestel, who ran away with the tournament in Portsmouth,
1976, George Botterill, the defending champion, and some others.

Jonathan shows off his all seeing four eyes
Jonathan shows off his all seeing four eyes

In fact I won at Ayr. I played quite well throughout. ln the last round half a point ahead of Mestel I played a quick draw with Webb but was lucky when Mestel could only draw with Clarke. Of course winning the British was a big breakthrough for me. But I feel that the most important psychological change came in 1974 when I started to discover that it is possible to win games in the British Championship.

Jonathan Simon Speelman (02-x-1956) as imagined by Roger Morgan, 1982
Jonathan Simon Speelman (02-x-1956) as imagined by Roger Morgan, 1982

Since late 1978 I have made no dramatic breakthrough but have, I believe, almost imperceptibly made the change from a ‘medium’ to a ‘strong’ international master.

Jonathan Speelman telephones good news
Jonathan Speelman telephones good news

I’ve selected three games to go with this article. The one with Larsen I’ve already mentioned. Mihaljcisin-Speelman I like as a game in which I played very actively as Black.

The game against Biyiasis is a good ‘rough and tumble’ not free from errors of course – but wouldn’t that be boring?

To find out more about JSs chess career we suggest you read his autobiography :

Speelman, Jon (1997). Jon Speelman's Best Games. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-6477-1.
Speelman, Jon (1997). Jon Speelman’s Best Games. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-6477-1.

which contains many heavily annotated games.

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper & Whyld :

“British Champion in 1978, Speelman played at Mexico City later that year in the English team that won (ahead of the USSR) the world’s first youth teams (under-26) championship.

(from l-r) Jonathan Kinlay, Shaun Taulbut, Jonathan Speelman, David Goodman and Jonathan Mestel accepting 1st prize at the 1978 World U26 Student Olympiad in Mexico City
(from l-r) Jonathan Kinlay, Shaun Taulbut, Jonathan Speelman, David Goodman and Jonathan Mestel accepting 1st prize at the 1978 World U26 Student Olympiad in Mexico City

Two good performances in 1980, as score of +5=5-3 to share fourth place in the category 13 London tournament and a second place (+6=7) at Maribor, brought him the title of International Grandmaster (1980). His subsequent achievements include : Dortmund 1981, first (+5=6) equal with Ftacnik and Kuzmin; Hastings 1981-2, second equal with Smyslov after Kupreichik; and London 1982, category 14, +2=10-1 to share fourth place. An excellent analyst, Speelman has written several books, among them Best Chess Games 1970-1980 (1982).”

GM Jonathan Speelman
GM Jonathan Speelman

From Wikipedia :
A winner of the British Chess Championship in 1978, 1985 and 1986, Speelman has been a regular member of the English team for the Chess Olympiad, an international biennial chess tournament organised by FIDE, the World Chess Federation.

In 1989, he beat Kasparov in a televised speed tournament, and then went on to win the event.

In the April 2007 FIDE list, Speelman had an Elo rating of 2518, making him England’s twelfth-highest-rated active player.

He qualified for two Candidates Tournaments:

In the 1989–1990 cycle, Speelman qualified by placing third in the 1987 interzonal tournament held in Subotica, Yugoslavia. After beating Yasser Seirawan in his first round 4–1, and Nigel Short in the second round 3½–1½, he lost to Jan Timman at the semi-final stage 4½–3½.
In the following 1990–93 championship cycle, he lost 5½–4½ in the first round to Short, the eventual challenger for Garry Kasparov’s crown.
Speelman’s highest ranking in the FIDE Elo rating list was fourth in the world, in January 1989.

Jonathan Speelman in happy mood
Jonathan Speelman in happy mood

Writing
He has written a number of books on chess, including several on the endgame, among them Analysing the Endgame (1981), Endgame Preparation (1981) and Batsford Chess Endings (co-author, 1993).

Among his other books are Best Games 1970–1980 (1982), an analysis of nearly fifty of the best games by top players from that decade, and Jon Speelman’s Best Games (1997). Today he is primarily a chess journalist and commentator, being the chess correspondent for The Observer and The Independent and sometimes providing commentary for games on the Internet Chess Club.

Jonathan Speelman and Daniel King share headphones at the 2013 FIDE Candidates event in London
Jonathan Speelman and Daniel King share headphones at the 2013 FIDE Candidates event in London
Tilburg 1978, Tony Miles & Jonathan Speelman, Master Chess Publications, 1978
Tilburg 1978, Tony Miles & Jonathan Speelman, Master Chess Publications, 1978
Riga Interzonal 1979, AJ Miles & J Speelman, Batsford, 1979, ISBN 0 7134 3429 5
Riga Interzonal 1979, AJ Miles & J Speelman, Batsford, 1979, ISBN 0 7134 3429 5

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Analysing the Endgame. Batsford (London, England). 142 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-1909-2.

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Analysing the Endgame. Batsford (London, England). 142 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-1909-2.
Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Analysing the Endgame. Batsford (London, England). 142 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-1909-2.

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Endgame Preparation. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 177 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4000-3.

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Endgame Preparation. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 177 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4000-3.
Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Endgame Preparation. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 177 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4000-3.

Speelman, Jon (1982). Best Chess Games, 1970-80. Allen & Unwin (London, England; Boston, Massachusetts). 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-04-794015-6.

Speelman, Jon (1982). Best Chess Games, 1970-80. Allen & Unwin (London, England; Boston, Massachusetts). 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-04-794015-6.
Speelman, Jon (1982). Best Chess Games, 1970-80. Allen & Unwin (London, England; Boston, Massachusetts). 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-04-794015-6.

Speelman, Jon; Livshits, August (1988). Test Your Endgame Ability. BT Batsford (London, England). 201 pages. ISBN 0-7134-5567-5

Speelman, Jon; Livshits, August (1988). Test Your Endgame Ability. BT Batsford (London, England). 201 pages. ISBN 0-7134-5567-5
Speelman, Jon; Livshits, August (1988). Test Your Endgame Ability. BT Batsford (London, England). 201 pages. ISBN 0-7134-5567-5

Speelman, Jon (1992). New Ideas in the Caro-Kann Defence. BT Batsford (London, England). 155 pages. ISBN 0-7134-6915-3.

Speelman, Jon (1992). New Ideas in the Caro-Kann Defence. BT Batsford (London, England). 155 pages. ISBN 0-7134-6915-3.
Speelman, Jon (1992). New Ideas in the Caro-Kann Defence. BT Batsford (London, England). 155 pages. ISBN 0-7134-6915-3.

Speelman, Jonathan; Tisdall, Jon; Wade, Bob. (1993). Batsford Chess Endings. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 448 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4420-9.

Speelman, Jonathan; Tisdall, Jon; Wade, Bob. (1993). Batsford Chess Endings. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 448 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4420-9.
Speelman, Jonathan; Tisdall, Jon; Wade, Bob. (1993). Batsford Chess Endings. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 448 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4420-9.

Speelman, Jon (1997). Jon Speelman’s Best Games. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-6477-1.

Modern Defence. Everyman, 2000
Modern Defence. Everyman, 2000

Speelman, Jon (2008). Jon Speelman’s Chess Puzzle Book. Gambit Publications Ltd. 143 pages. ISBN 978-1-904600-96-1.

Speelman, Jon (2008). Jon Speelman's Chess Puzzle Book. Gambit Publications Ltd. 143 pages. ISBN 978-1-904600-96-1.
Speelman, Jon (2008). Jon Speelman’s Chess Puzzle Book. Gambit Publications Ltd. 143 pages. ISBN 978-1-904600-96-1.
Jonathan Speelman
Jonathan Speelman
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Happy Birthday Peter Griffiths (15-viii-1946)

Peter Griffiths (15-viii-1946)
Peter Griffiths (15-viii-1946)

BCN sends Happy birthday wishes to Peter Griffiths

Peter Charles Griffiths was born on Thursday, August 15th, in 1946 in Birmingham, Warwickshire. His mother’s maiden name was Ward.

Peter was a strong player active from the 1960s until 1989. He played in the British Championships more than once and was a professional coach and writer. He wrote the column “Practical Chess Endings” which appeared in the British Chess Magazine. The column commenced in the December 1972 issue and columns became less frequent until around 1991.

Peter Griffiths (far left)
Peter Griffiths (far left)

He wrote Exploring the Endgame

Exploring the Endgame
Exploring the Endgame

and co-authored Secrets of Grandmaster Play with John Nunn.

Secrets of Grandmaster Play
Secrets of Grandmaster Play

and wrote Improving Your Chess

Improving Your Chess
Improving Your Chess

and Better Chess for Club Players

Better Chess for Club Players
Better Chess for Club Players
Peter Griffiths (far left)
Peter Griffiths (far left)
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Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings

Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings
Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings

Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings : Efstratios Grivas

“After a bad opening, there is hope for the middle game. After a bad middle game, there is hope for the endgame. But once you are in the endgame, the moment of truth has arrived.” – Edmar Mednis

GM Efstratios Grivas
GM Efstratios Grivas

“Efstratios Grivas (30.03.1966) is a highly experienced chess trainer and chess author. He has been awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) the titles of International Chess Grandmaster, FIDE Senior Trainer, International Chess Arbiter and International Chess Organiser.

His main successes over the board are the Silver Medal Olympiad 1998 (3rd Board), the Gold Medal European Team Championship 1989 (3rd Board) and the 4th Position World Junior Championship U.20 1985. He has also won 5 Balkan Medals (2 Gold – 1 Silver – 2 Bronze) and he was 3 times Winner of the International ‘Acropolis’ Tournament. He has also in his credit the 28 times first position in Greek Individual & Team Championships and he has won various international tournaments as well. He has been awarded five FIDE Medals in the Annual FIDE Awards (Winner of the FIDE Boleslavsky Medal 2009 & 2015 (best author) – Winner of the FIDE Euwe Medal 2011 & 2012 (best junior trainer) – Winner of the FIDE Razuvaev Medal 2014 (Trainers’ education) and has been a professional Lecturer at FIDE Seminars for Training & Certifying Trainers.

He has written more than 100 Books in Arabic, English, Greek, Italian, Spanish & Turkish. Since 2009 he is the Secretary of the FIDE Trainers’ Commission and since 2012 the Director of the FIDE Grivas Chess International Academy (Athens).”

From the rear cover :

“To learn and to play endgames well the chess player must love endgames’ – Lev Psakhis. Different kinds of endgames have specific characteristics and rules. Every serious player must know many typical positions and main principles of all types of endings. That knowledge should help us during the game, but it is not enough to become a good player, not yet. There just too many different endings, some of them with two or more pieces, some are very complex. To be comfortable and play well those complex endings require specific knowledge and specific ways of thinking. We will call it ‘endgame thinking’.

I chose to write a book on advanced rook endings as I simply did not wish to write another book that would be like the many already available. I have done my best to present analysis and articles I have written over the past 10-15 years. Th is work has been presented in my daily coaching sessions, seminars, workshops, etc. The material has helped a lot of trainees to develop into quite strong players gaining international titles and championships. Now, it is your turn to taste and enjoy it!”

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

This is a superb book packed full of instructive examples which I cannot praise enough. The book has clearly been extensively researched with Efstratios Grivas showcasing his credentials as a world class trainer.

The book starts off with four well thought out introductory sections: 1. The Endgame which briefly discusses the historical literature and computer evolution of the endgames. In this section, the author introduces his useful boxed SOS Tips which remind the reader of the salient points of a particular lesson or section.

2. The Golden Rules Of the Endgame which every player should know.  I like the way that Grivas acknowledges other authors’ contributions to the evolution of our endgame understanding and this is clearly shown here and in Chapter 4 Extra Passed Pawn.

3. Rook Endgame Principles which lists the five main rules of rook endgames which is particularly useful for less experienced players.

4.Evaluation – Plan – Execution which discusses the role of planning followed by an excellent seven point SOS tip box.

Now we come to the meat of the book which is divided into nine chapters:

Chapter 1 – basic knowledge which covers the Lucena, Philidor and Vancura positions and their offshoots. If you only read one chapter of any book on rook endgames, I suggest this one.

Diagram 13 shows that even a future current world champion can blunder in a basic position:

Levon Aronian v Magnus Carlsen
Levon Aronian v Magnus Carlsen

This is a drawn ending as black’s king is on the short side and his rook has sufficient checking distance.

Aronian’s last move was the cunning waiting move 73.Rd7-d6!

The only drawing move here is 73… Kg6! for example, if 74.Rd7 Kg7 75.Kd6+ Kf6 76. e7 Kf7=

Carlsen replied with the “obvious” check 73… Ra7+ and resigned instantly after 74. Ke8. He resigned because of 74… Ra8+ 75.Rd8 Ra6 76.e7

The reviewer can say that he knew this trap from Levenfish & Smyslov and admits to feeling slightly smug!

Chapter 2 is entitled Extraordinary endings and covers three interesting and diverse areas:

  1. Rook and A + H pawns v Rook
  2. Rook vs 3 connected pawns
  3. 2 Rooks v R + 3 connected pawns

My preference would have been to restructure this chapter as Rook v Pawns and put the other two sections into later separate chapters. Nevertheless all the material is extremely useful. The ending of Rook v 3 pawns is fairly common and the diagram below shows a typical occurrence:

Colin Crouch - Luke McShane England 1999
Colin Crouch – Luke McShane England 1999

This is an “optimal drawn position” (Grivas). White must prevent the rook from getting behind the pawns which wins for black.

White played 68.Kb4? which loses, keeping the king on the second or third rank was fine. 68… Rh4+? (68…Rh3 or Rh1 wins) 69. Kb3 Kc5 70. Ka3! Kb6 71. Kb3 Kc5 72. Ka3! Rh3+ 73. Kb2 Kb6 74. Ka2! (only move) Ka5 75. Kb2 Rg3 76. Kc2? (76.Ka2! Kc4 77.c7 Ra3+ 78.Kb2 Rb3+ 79.Ka2 with a perpetual check) Rg4? (76…Kb4 wins 77.Kd2 Rg8! 78.Kd3 Kxa4 79. Kc4 Ka5 8-.Kc5 Rg5+ wins) 77. Kb3 Rb4+ 78. Kc3! Rb1 79. Kc2 Rf1 80. Kb3? (80.Kb2 draws) Ra1! winning

Colin Crouch - Luke McShane England 1999
Colin Crouch – Luke McShane England 1999

81.Kc4  Rxa4+ 82. Kc5 Ra1 83. c7 Rc1+ 84. Kd6 Kb6 0-1

Chapter 3 Same Side is one of the core chapters which deals with pawn up positions when all the pawns are on one side. These positions occur very frequently and are sometimes misplayed by world class players. I like the way the author systematically discusses the different structures with drawing and winning mechanisms and then shows pertintent examples from real games. Diagram 51 discusses the famous endgame Capablanca  – Yates Hastings 1930 in great depth which shows that even the great Cuban player made several mistakes after achieving a winning game from a drawn 4 v 3 endgame shown below. A quick flavour of the coverage is given below.

Capablanca - Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca – Yates Hastings 1930

The game continued 38…Rb4, 39.Ra5 Rc4 (39…h5! is the standard move to ease the defence.) 40.g4! squeezing, but black can still hold 40… h6 41. Kg3 Rc1 42. Kg2 Rc4 43. Rd5 Ra4 44. f4 Ra2+ 45. Kg3 Re2 46.Re5 Re1 47. Kf2 Rh1 48. Kg2 Re1 49. h4 Kf6?! (49…f6 is more precise reaching a known drawn position) 50.h5 Re2+ 51. Kf3 Re1 Re1 52. Ra5 Kg7 53. hxg6 Kxg6! (53…fxg6? loses 54. Ra7+ Kg8 55. e4 Rf1+ 56.Ke3 Rg1 57.f5! Rxg4 58.f6 winning with two passed pawns) 54. e4 Rf1+ 55.Kg3 Rg1+ 56. Kh3 Rf1 57. Rf5 reaching the diagram below:

Capablanca Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca Yates Hastings 1930

57… Re1? (black must play 57…f6 to draw) 58. e5! Re3+ 59.Kg2! Ra3 60.Rf6+ Kg7 reaching a well lnown won position 61. Rb6? (61.Rd6 wins protecting the king from side checks) Re3? 61…Ra4! leads to a complex draw 62. Rb4? (62. Rb1 still wins but Rb8 does not win) Rc3 reaching the position below:

Capablanca Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca- Yates, Hastings, 1930

63. Kf2? (A shocking mistake, 63.Rb8 intending f5 wins) 62… Ra3 ? (63…h5! draws) 64. Rb7 Kg8 65. Rb8+! (now Capablanca wins efficiently) Kg7 66. f5 Ra2+ 67. Ke3 Ra3+ 68. Ke4 Ra4+ 69. Kd5! Ra4+ 69. Kd5! Ra5+ 70. Kd6 Ra6+ 71. Kc7 Kh7 72.Kd7 Ra7+ 73. Kd6 Kg7 74. Rd8! Ra5 75. f6+ Kh7 76. Rf8 Ra7 77. Kc6! Kg6 78. Rg8+ Kh7 79. Rg7+ Kh8 80.Kb6 Rd7 81. Kc5! Rc7+ 82. Kd6 Ra7 83.e6! Ra6+ 84. Ke7 Rxe6+ 85. Kxf7 Re5 86.g5! hxg5 77. Kg6 1-0

Chpater 4 Extra Passed Pawn is the second core chapter of the book and is easily the longest and most complex chapter. Despite this, detailed study of this section will reap rich rewards. The theory of these endings has evolved significantly since the books by Fine and Levenfish/Smyslov. Diagram 78 shows a typical position with a extra rook’s pawn with the stronger side having the rook in front of the pawn. This position looks to be an easy draw but beware: it is a draw but the position is complex and the drawing lines are complex! One slip and the game slips away.

Bacrot - Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011
Bacrot – Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011

Black played a waiting move which is fatal 59…Ke6? (59…Ra4! or 59…g5! draws) White blundered in turn playing 60.Ra8? ( White could have won with a beautiful and instructive variation starting with 60. Kd4! see diagram below):

Bacrot - Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011
Bacrot – Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011

60…Rxf2 (looks as though it draws, but it does not) 61. Rc7 Ra2 62. a7 Kf5 63. Kc4!! Kg4 64. Kb3! Ra6 65. Rc4+ Kxg3 66. Ra4 Rxa7 67. Rxa7 Kxh4  reaching a key position shown below:

Bacrot - Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011
Bacrot – Robson, Khanty-Mansiysk, 2011

White wins with the amazing 68. Kc3!! (68.Rxf7 only draws 68…Kg3 holds) 68…Kg3 (68…f5 69. Kd3 g5 70.Rf7 f4 71.Rf5!! Kg4 72. Ra5 h4 73. Ke2 wins) 69. Kd3 h4 70. Ke2! wins

After 60. Ra8 the game was eventually won by white after many errors by both  sides.

Chapter 5 Shattering covers endings where one side has a positional advantage consisting of the better pawn structure. A typical position is diagram 118 which is from the famous game Flohr – Vidmar Nottingham 1936.

Flohr- Vidmar, Nottingham, 1936
Flohr – Vidmar, Nottingham, 1936

Black rather injudiciously exchanged knights with 29…Nc6? 30. Nxc6 Rc8 31. Rc5? (better is 31.Ke2 bxc6 (31…Rxc6 loses the king and pawn ending after 32.Rxc6 bxc6 33.b4!) 32.Rc5) 31…bxc6? (31…Rxc6! 32. Rxd5 Rc2 probably draws) 32. Ke2! Ke7 33.Kd3 Kd6 34. Ra5! Ra8 35. Kd4 f5 36. b4  reaching the position below:

Flohr-Vidmar, Move36
Flohr-Vidmar, Nottingham, 1936

36…Rb8? and Flohr won a brilliant ending. However as Grivas shows, black could have drawn by executing a better plan on move 36 by defending his weak a6 pawn with his king 36…Kc7! 37. Kc5 Kb7 38. Kd6 Re8 39.Ra3 g5! for example 40.Rc3 f4! 41. exf4 gxf4 42. Rxc6 Rd8+ 43. Kc5 d4 44. Re6 d3 45. Re1 Rg8=

Chapter 6 Isolani covers the handling of rook endings playing against isolated central pawns. Diagram 132 covers the game Szabo Penrose from the European Team Championship in Bath 1973.

Szabo - Penrose, Bath, 1973
Szabo – Penrose, Bath, 1973

This is a superbly handled ending by Szabo who probes carefully and forces resignation within twenty moves – a textbook example with excellent notes by the author.

Chapter 7 Drawn Endings covers the reasons for losing drawn positions which happens to very strong players. An excellent example is diagram 140.

Topalov-Gelfand, Linares, 2010
Topalov-Gelfand, Linares, 2010

It is hard to believe that a world class player of Gelfand’s standard could lose such a position but Grivas shows how with his usual exemplary commentary.

Chapter 8 Four Rooks is one of the chapters that makes this book stand out – few authors have covered this topic in any depth although Fine in BCE does give some examples. Grivas starts the chapter with five sets of educational SOS tips which the reviewer really likes. Diagram 143 shows a example of good defence in a position that looks diffcult with black’s king trapped on the back rank:

Miljanic- Grivas, 1983
Miljanic – Grivas, 1983

The author conducts an almost flawless defence to hold this difficult position – buy the book to find out how.

The final chapter 9 Various Concepts discusses Lasker’s steps, trapped rooks and the Loman move. If you don’t know about Lasker’s steps or the Loman move – buy the book to learn more!

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 20th July 2020

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 01 edition (19 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 949251074X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510747
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

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Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings
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Remembering Alfred Crosskill (21-iv-1829 05-v-1904)

BCN remembers Alfred Crosskill (21-iv-1829 05-v-1904)

Here is excellent article from Yorkshire Chess History

An interesting article within British Endgame Study News (BESN) by John Beasley

“White to play cannot win; Black to play loses,
but it takes White 45 moves to capture the rook”

Here is an entry on the chesscomposers site

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