Secrets of Queen Endgames

Secrets of Queen Endgames: Ferenc Berkes and Tibor Karolyi

From the publisher:

A revolutionary new work on a notoriously challenging type of chess endgame

Queen endgames can seem unfathomably complicated. Computers have provided complete information for some of the basic queen and pawn endings, but human understanding has proved elusive.

In this ground-breaking work, two Hungarian authors have gone to extraordinary lengths to explain strategies and methods in queen endgames. Rather than a random series of checks, we can now understand king and queen triangulations that gradually bring the pieces to the squares they need to be to engineer the killer tactic that completes the process. Berkes and Karolyi have devised guidelines that help us judge what we need to aim for, and provided a broad set of tools to help us achieve these goals.

Going beyond previous texts, the authors have used not just seven-man tablebases and modern engines, but the specialized program FinalGen to delve with the same certainty into endgames with many more pawns. But most of all, they have spent thousands of hours seeking to present the whole truth about queen endings in human terms. Their wide-ranging discussion of shelters is especially instructive.”

  • A definitive guide to a fundamental class of endgames
  • Explains all types of endings with queens and pawns
  • A wealth of guidelines for handling positions with many pawns
  • Spectacular and previously unpublished endgame studies
  • Thoroughly up to date, with more than 1000 chess diagrams

Ferenc Berkes is a grandmaster from Hungary. A former World Under-18 Champion, he was won the championship of his country on eight occasions. He plays team chess in several European leagues. IM Tibor Karolyi is also from Hungary. His many pupils have included super-GMs Peter Leko and Judit Polgar, and he is a highly experienced chess writer.

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 book is divided into 9 chapters as follows :

  1. Extreme Tactics in Queen Endings
  2. Tools in Queen Endings
    Technical Queen Endgames
  3. Queen and Pawn vs Queen
  4. All the Pawns on the Same Side
  5. Extra Outside Passed Pawn
    Practical and Strategic Queen Endgames
  6. The Pawn
  7. The Queen
  8. The King
  9. Complex Queen Endgames

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

This book is a superb tour de force covering a complex subject that has not been covered so extensively before. My short review cannot really do justice to this magnus opus.

The book is aimed at expert players, probably 2200 and above. The vast majority of GMs would learn a lot from this book. Despite  these comments, it is the reviewer’s opinion that any aspiring, improving player would benefit from reading the more general chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8. The pure technical chapters 3 and 4 are certainly more abstruse but very instructive: the authors don’t just give long variations but intersperse these with pithy, useful comments.

The short first chapter really introduces the power of the queen with a mixture of studies and over the board positions.

Chapter 1: Extreme Tactics in Queen Endings

Here is an amazing and stunning study by Rusz:

Rusz 2022 White to play and win
Rusz 2022 White to play and win

Black is threatening to mate with Qa1+, so white plays 1.Qf6!!

Rusz 2022 Position after 1.Qf6 mutual zugzwang
Rusz 2022 Position after 1.Qf6 mutual zugzwang Black to move

Amazingly, this is a position of mutual zugzwang as White to play only draws, whereas Black to play loses. It is hard to believe that in an open position with three queens each, having the move is a disadvantage!
Black can try 1…Qad8_ 2.Qaxd8 Qxd8+ 3.Qxd8 Qf1+ 4.Kc2 Qf2+

Rusz 2022 Position after 4...Qf2+
Rusz 2022 Position after 4…Qf2+ White to move

5.Qd2 (The careless 5.Kb3? allows a standard trick 5…Qg3+ 6.Qxg3 stalemate, always watch out for this type of idea in queen endings) 5…Qc5+ 6.Kd1 Qc2+

Rusz 2022 Position after 6...Qc2+
Rusz 2022 Position after 6…Qc2+ White to move

7.Ke2! Black has run out of useful checks, so white wins

Here is a practical example showing many important principles in queen and pawn endings:

Percivaldi - Thybo Danish League 2021-2 Position after 42.Qd5+
Percivaldi – Thybo Danish League 2021-2 Position after 42.Qd5+ Black to move

White has three pawns for a bishop, but the most important feature of the position is black’s far advanced passed a-pawn. In queen endgames, it’s the degree of advancement of passed pawns that is all important, not the number of pawns. Black correctly shed the bishop with his next move:

42…Kc7! 43.Qf7+ Kb6 44. Qxf8 Kb5!

Percivaldi-Thybo Danish League 2021-2 Position after 44...Kb5
Percivaldi-Thybo Danish League 2021-2 Position after 44…Kb5 White to move

White is three pawns up but is totally lost. White’s only potentially useful pawn is the d-pawn as it’s closest to queening, but white is just too far behind in the race. Black’s king will shelter behind the white’s pawns, there is no chance of a perpetual check.

45.Qe8+ Kb4 46.Qb8+ Ka4 47.Qg8 Trying to bar the king’s progress, but to no avail. 47…Qc2! (47…Qb3 also wins) 48.Qe8+ Kb4 49.Qb8+ Kc3 50.Kg2 a2 51.d5 Using a little tactic to prevent queening and putting black under a little pressure

Percivaldi-Thybo Danish League 2021-2 Position after 51.d5
Percivaldi-Thybo Danish League 2021-2 Position after 51.d5 Black to move

51…Qb2? A poor move deactivating the queen allowing white an amazing draw which he misses, the obvious 51…Qe4+ 52.Kh3  Qxd5 eliminating white’s counterplay, followed by putting the king behind white’s pawns wins easily, 51…Qd1! also wins watching White’s d-pawn and preparing to promote, after 52.Qe5+ Kc2 53.Qe4+ Kb3 54.d6 a1=Q wins as does 54…Qxd6

White missed a clever draw and black won after a slugfest in a four queen ending. Buy the book to see this entertainment.

Chapter 2: Tools in Queen Endings

This is an excellent toolbox chapter that covers the follows topics:

The Queen Triangulates
Cutting Off the King
Batteries and Discovered Checks
Pinning Down a Piece
Exploiting the Opponent’s Harmful Pawn
Zugzwangs

These ideas are absolutely key themes in queen endings. This section is definitely worthy of examination.

The reviewer will show  examples from many of the themes in turn:

The Queen Triangulates
The author  explains the concept concisely:
“In queen endings, there are more zugzwangs than most players would assume. We shall see many examples where the attacker’s king manoeuvres to give up the right to move – a familiar theme from pawn endings, but more surprising with queens on the board. But the queen itself can also lose a tempo by a form of triangulation. It usually happens when the defender’s king is in danger.”

Here is another Rusz study showing this idea:

Rusz 2022 Queen Triangulation
Rusz 2022 Queen Triangulation White to play and win

This positions look ok for black as he has White’s passed pawn under control. 1.Qg5+ Ke8 2.Qc5! 2…a3! 3.Qe3+! Kd8 4.Qg5+ Ke8 5.Qc5! completing the first triangulation

Rusz 2022 Queen Triangulation Position after 5.Qc5
Rusz 2022 Queen Triangulation Position after 5.Qc5 Black to play

5…a6 forced 6.Qe3+ Kd8 7.Qg5+ Ke8 8.Qc5! another triangulation completed 8…a5 9.Qe3+ Kd8 10.Qg5+ Ke8 11.Qc5! a4 12. Qe3+ Kd8 13.Qg5+ Ke8 14.Qc5! zugzwang wins

Rusz 2022 Queen Triangulation Position after 14.Qc5
Rusz 2022 Queen Triangulation Position after 14.Qc5 Black to play

14…Qc8+ (14…Kd8 15.Qf8# ends the suffering) 15.Ka7 Qc7+ 16.Ka6 wins black’s pawns and the game

Cutting Off the King

This principle can be used by the stronger side or the weaker side to prevent the opposing king getting to a desirable area.  For example, the stronger side can use this technique in Q+P v Q to cut off the defender’s king from a drawing zone.  The example below shows the defending side successfully using this theme in an over the board game:

Lupulescu - Sarakauskas After move 46.Qxg5
Lupulescu – Sarakauskas After move 46.Qxg5 Black to play

White has just taken the pawn on g5, black can now draw with an accurate sequence of checks: 46…Qb1+ 47.Kh2 Qb8+ 48.Kg1 Qb1+ 49.Kh2 Qb8+ 50.Kg1 Qb1+ 51.Kf2 Qc2+ 52.Kf3

Lupulescu - Sarakauskas After move 52.Kf3
Lupulescu – Sarakauskas After move 52.Kf3 Black to play

Black must choose the right check here to draw: 52…Qd1+! (the sloppy 52…Qd3+ 53.Kg4! allows white to approach the h-pawn and win the game) 53.Ke4 Qa4+! not allowing the king to cross the fifth rank 54.Ke3 Qb3+ 55.Kd2 Qb2+ 56.Ke1 Qb1+ 57.Ke2 Qe4+ 58.Qe3 Qxg2+ Black has regained his pawn and drew comfortably

In this famous ending, Black is winning with an extra pawn and centralised queen. He played 62..f5? mobilising the pawn majority

Pillsbury - Burn Vienna 1898 Position after 62.Qe2
Pillsbury – Burn Vienna 1898 Position after 62.Qe2 Black to move

Better was 62…Kd6! activating the king trying to cross over to white’s queenside pawns: white cannot defend against the twin threats of the king invasion and the advance of the kingside pawn majority. After 62…f5? white took the opportunity to make Black’s life very difficult 63.Qb5! cutting the king off from white’s queenside. White missed a probable difficult draw and black eventually won.

Batteries and Discovered Checks

From the author: “Powerful ideas in queen endings include forcing an exchange of queens and launching an attack on the enemy king. Usually the queen harasses the enemy ling by giving checks, but sometimes setting up a battery is stronger than the immediate check. Players often miss such an opportunity, or the potential to play for it. The attacker typically uses a battery to attack the opponent’s king or to win a tempo and stop the opponent’s queen from continuously checking by stepping out the check with a cross check.”

This practical example is instructive:

Ni Hua - Berkes Taiyuan 2006 Position after 56...Kh6
Ni Hua – Berkes Taiyuan 2006 Position after 56…Kh6 White to move

White played 57.Qxd5 winning a pawn, 57… Qe3+ (black can also draw with the flashy 57…Qf6+ or 57…Qg4+ or 57…Qa4+) 58.Kf6 Qf2+ (58…Qf3!+ draws easily, 59.Qxf3 is stalemate, and 59.Kf6 Qc3+ draws) 59. Qf5 Qh4+ 60.Ke6 Qc4+ 61. Qd5 This position is getting difficult for black,  but there are still six drawing moves, Black choose a terrible check 61…Qa6??+ 62.Qd6! setting up a deadly battery 62…Qe2+ 63.Kd5+ 1-0 as white exchanges queens

Ni Hua - Berkes Taiyuan 2006 Position after 61.Qd5
Ni Hua – Berkes Taiyuan 2006 Position after 61.Qd5 Black to move

Pinning Down a Piece

Portisch - Morovic Dubai Olympiad 1986 Position after 103...Qe6
Portisch – Morovic Dubai Olympiad 1986 Position after 103…Qe6 White to move

White played 104.Kc2? and lost . Portisch missed a brilliant move here 104.Qd4!! which amazingly draws, after 104…b3 105.Qd3! attacks the pawn and paralyses the Black queen.

Exploiting the Opponent’s Harmful Pawn

There are many example in the ending Q+P v Q+P where the defending side (player with the pawn that’s least advanced) loses because the extra pawn is harmful blocking defender’s queen checks and/or providing shelter to the stronger side’s king. An example is given below:

Boleslavsky - Taimanov Zurich Candidates 1953 Position after 42...c1Q
Boleslavsky – Taimanov Zurich Candidates 1953 Position after 42…c1Q White to move

White played 43.Qb8+ which wins but Boleslavsky messed up later on. In some ways 43.h4 is simpler. A possible line is 43.h4 Qc2+ 44. Qg6 Qxa4 45.h5 Qxa2 reaching this position:

Boleslavsky - Taimanov Zurich Candidates 1953 Variation position after 45...Qxa2
Boleslavsky – Taimanov Zurich Candidates 1953 Variation position after 45…Qxa2 White to move

Without Black’s b-pawn this is a tablebase draw but not easy in practice. With the b-pawn, Black is losing after 46.Kg7!! The pawn blocks the g1-a7 diagonal.

The next huge section of the book is all about Technical Endgames.

Chapter 3: Queen and Pawn vs Queen

This is in some ways the core of the book with 65 pages devoted to this basic ending. But it is anything but basic!

Each pawn is covered in turn starting with the rook’s pawn working towards the centre pawn. Within each pawn’s section, positions are covered from the second rank to the seventh rank. It is certainly a systematic approach.

It is clear that the least favourable pawn is the rook’s pawn, followed by the knight’s pawn. It may surprise some readers to know that the bishop’s pawn is the most favourable.

Rook’s Pawn
These are the authors’ conclusions:
“The closer the pawn get to promotion, the harder it becomes to hold.
In the case of a white a7-pawn:
Black’s safest option is to get really close to the pawn, at least to the d-file.
The h1-corner is a draw for black’s king, but in practice the defence will require a lot of concentration.
The a1-corner is the second least difficult location for the defender’s king.
In case the black king gets trapped in the h8-corner, there is only one mutual zugzwang position that might save the defender.”

The reviewer will show a few positions:

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 89...Qd1+
Honfi – Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 89…Qd1+ White to play

This position is a tablebase draw  particularly as black’s king is fairly close to the h1 corner.
White played 90.Kb4
The author adds a didactic comment: “Ever since the famous Minev -Botvinnik game in 1954, we know the player with the extra pawn should look to put his king on the same or neighbouring file or rank as the opponent’s king. This creates chances for a cross check or to set up a battery.”

The game continued for another 61 moves until this position was reached:

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 151.Kc7
Honfi – Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 151.Kc7 Black to play

Black’s king is not ideally placed, but he can draw with the correct check. Black played 151…Qe7+? (151…Qf7+ draws as 152.Kc8 is met by 152…Qf5+ drawing, Gelfand has made an observation, if in doubt check on the opposite colour square to your king, obviously this not a hard and fast rule) 152.Kc8! Black has run out of checks because of the king on h4. White now plays superbly to bring home the full point fully exploiting the badly placed black king 152…Qe4 153.Qc5!

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 153.Qc5
Honfi – Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 153.Qc5

153…Qe6+ 154.Kc7 Qf7+ 155.Kb6 Qb3+ 156.Ka5!

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 156.Ka5
Honfi – Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 156.Ka5

A standard winning technique in Q+P v Q The author comments thus: “White approaches the rank of Black’s king. Now 156…Qa2+ would be the last check, as it is met by 157.Kb5. from this point, the win is easy, as White can promote after some checks.”

156…Qf3 157.Qc4+ Kh5 158.Kb6 Qf6+ 159.Qc6 Qd8+ 160.Kb7 Qe7+ 161.Ka6 Qa3+ 162.Kb6 exploiting black’s king position again, there are no more checks, so 1-0

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 162.Kb6
Honfi – Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 162.Kb6

The reviewer adds an observation: when the black king is in or near the h1-corner, it is much harder for White to manoeuvre his king to an adjoining rank/file and keep his pieces coordinated as well as the pawn safe.

Gligoric - Timman Bugojno 1980 Position after 60...g1Q
Gligoric – Timman Bugojno 1980 Position after 60…g1Q White to play

This is a tablebase draw as white’s king is close to the best corner (a8) but an experienced top GM still lost this position thirty moves later. This shows how hard it is in practice. The book has some excellent coverage of this endgame viz:

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 84...Kc3
Gligoric – Timman Bugojno 1980 Position after 84…Kc3 White to move

This position is still a draw.
“White should also wait with 85.Ke5, or he could move closer to the corner with 85.Kf7 or 85.Kf6”

White played the obvious centralising check 85.Qe5+? which loses, black replied with the 85…Kc2? (85…Kd2! wins: the analysis is worth looking at just to see the process as Black uses triangulation and White’s poorly placed king to escape the checks, get the book to find out)

Honfi - Toth Budapest Ch 1966 Position after 85...Kc2
Gligoric – Timman Bugojno 1980 Position after  85…Kc2 White to play

In this position White can draw. Over to the authors: “86.Qf4!! is the right move. But why? If it Black’s turn to move in the diagram, Qf3 would cut off the white king and win. The queen on f4 stops that. If 86…Kd1 87.Kf7!= (87.Kf6 also draws)  87…Qe2 88.Qd4+ only move 88…Kc2 89.Qa4+ holds or 89.Qc5+ or 89.Qf4! h2 90.Qa4+ draws”

This subtle, underlying battle of the cut off is amazing. The game continued with 86.Qh2+? Kd1!  Once again the king approaches the neighbouring file of the enemy king 87.Qh1+ Kd2 88.Kf6 (the authors note that if white’s king could move to the c-file he would draw, the win after 88.Ke7 is very instructive as black triangulates again, get the book to find out how)

Gligoric - Timman Bugojno 1980 Position after 88.Kf6
Gligoric – Timman Bugojno 1980 Position after 88.Kf6 Black to move

Timman misses a fairly simple idea to win quickly here 88…Qg3! He played 88…Qe3? This throws away all the hard work. White can draw with 89.Qh2+ and then run with the king towards the h8 corner. White blundered with 89.Kf5? A fatigue blunder allowing 89…Qf2+ 90.Ke5 Qe1+ exchanging queens 0-1

Knight’s Pawn

This is the authors’ observations:
“This situation occurs more often in practice than Q+P v Q with other pawns. This type of pawn has some unique features. for example, the attacker’s king has more scope for hiding near the pawn then it does behind a rook’s pawn, but less room compared to a bishop’s pawn. There is a drawing zone that often exists for the defender’s king in the far corner from the promotion square.”
The reviewer adds the proviso: but even this depends on the exact position of the queens of course.

Lenart position
Lenart position after 19…Qxh3

This is position from an unknown composer/player. Surprisingly White wins here even with the black king so close. White plays 20.Qc6! which is a standard cut off move. The winning process here takes 75 moves with perfect defence. There are some mind boggling triangulations with white’s king to wrong foot the black queen. Buy the book to find out how.

Here is a position with a knight’s pawn on the fifth rank.

Zurakhov - Boleslavsky Riga 1955 Position after 73...e1Q
Zurakhov – Boleslavsky Riga 1955 Position after 73…e1Q White to play

White wins here with the brilliant 74.Qf8+ Kg4 75.Qa3!! cutting black’s king off from the drawing zone. Zurakhov played 74.Qc8? throwing away the win but he won anyway on move 119.

Once the knight’s pawn reaches the seventh rank, the defender’s king has to stay in the opposite corner. This is the type of position the attacking side should aim for:

Cheron 1968
Cheron 1968 Black to play loses

Apparently with a g-pawn on g7, the d4 is vitally important for the stronger side’s queen.

Bishop’s Pawn

There is no drawing zone for the defender’s king (unless of course the king can get in front of the pawn).

Velimirovic - Uhlmann Arandjelovac Zonal play-off 1976 Position after 55.Kxa6
Velimirovic – Uhlmann Arandjelovac Zonal play-off 1976 Position after 55.Kxa6

This is a technical win for Black: 55…Qg4! is an excellent cut-off preparing to activate the king. Uhlmann played this ending well not letting the win slip at any point. This ending is worth close study.

Centre Pawn

Jevtic - Vujacic (analysis) Belgrade 2008
Jevtic – Vujacic (analysis) Belgrade 2008

1.Qxf7+ Ke3! the only winning move.

If white’s king was on h1, he would draw as his king would be in the small drawing zone on the short side of the pawn. 2.Qg8 Qd5+ (a series of queen checks to force white’s king to the unfavourable long side of the pawn) 3. Kc1 Qh1+ 4.Kb2 Qe4!

Jevtic - Vujacic (analysis) Belgrade 2008 Position after 4...Qe4
Jevtic – Vujacic (analysis) Belgrade 2008 Position after 4…Qe4 White to move

5. Qg1+ Ke2 6.Qh2+ Kc3 7.Qg3+ Qe3! 8.Qg6+ Kd2 9.Qc2 Ke1 10.Qb1+ Kf2 stopping the checks, notice how white’s own king impedes his own queen 11.Qh7 e5

Jevtic – Vujacic (analysis) Belgrade 2008 Position after 11…e5 White to move

Nunn comments: “The general theory of queen and pawn against queen tells us that this position is probably winning, because with the centre pawn there is no drawing zone for the white king in a remote corner, and if the defender’s king cannot move in front of the pawn then his chances are grim.”

Chapter 4: All the Pawns on the Same Side

This is a systematic analysis of all the different pawn configurations and is a really technical. For mortals like me, this will take many months to take in, but is nonetheless really interesting.

One surprising conclusion is that a two pawn advantage Q and rook’s pawn + knight’s pawn [gh-0] v Q is drawn in many positions if the defender’s queen and king are actively placed.

Here is a practical example:

Atanasov - Spiridonov Ruse 1978 Position after 68...Kg8
Atanasov – Spiridonov Ruse 1978 Position after 68…Kg8 White to move

How should White capture the Black pawn? On general principles, it looks better to capture with the queen retaining two connected passed pawns. Here both captures win, but generally Q+f+h pawns v Q is a win unless there is an immediate perpetual. Q+g+h pawns v Q is drawn in many cases. After 69.Qxf4?! Qc5+ 70.Kg4? White has thrown the win away:

Atanasov - Spiridonov Ruse 1978 Position after 70.Kg4
Atanasov – Spiridonov Ruse 1978 Position after 70.Kg4

Black played 70…Qc8+ which draws as does 70…Qa7, 70…Qc3, 70…Qc6
The game was drawn after both sides made mistakes.  Instead of 70.Kg4?, 70.Kg6! wins.
This ending is truly complex and worthy of study. Buy the book to find out more.

Chapter 5: Extra Outside Passed Pawn
This is divided into four natural subsections:
Passed Rook’s Pawn
Passed Knight’s Pawn
Passed Bishop’s Pawn
Passed Centre Pawn

The author concentrates on the passed rook’s pawn:
“Firstly, they occur more often than other passed pawns, as is also the case in rook endings. Secondly, the defender has much better drawing chances compared to positions with a c-pawn for example, because the stronger side’s king can’t find shelter around the rook’s pawn. If the attacker’s queen is busy defending the king from checks, there is little capacity left to help the rook’s pawn advance. On the opposite wing from the passed rook’s pawn, exchange of pawns tend to favour the defending side for several reasons:
1) They increase the chance of perpetual check.
2) Less frequently, it may even be possible to simplify to a queen and pawn versus queen endgame by exchanging off all the kingside pawns.”

Here is an excellent demonstration by the strongest player in the world:

Carlsen - Vachier-Lagrave Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden 2019 Position after 32...Kg7
Carlsen – Vachier-Lagrave Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden 2019 Position after 32…Kg7 White to play

Carlsen played the neat 33.Bd5! (33.Qb2+ Kg8 34.a3 Qd3 black is very active and white cannot make progress) 33…Bxd5 34. Qe5+ f6? A serious mistake from a top player as it weakens the king’s shelter. Chapter 8 gives lots of advice and examples about shelters. Much better was 34…Kg8 35.Qxd5 Qa3 36.Qb3 Qc1+ 37.Kg2 h5 38.gxh5 Qg5+ 39.Kh2 Qxh5 and black can hold. 35.Qxd5 h5 (Trying to weaken White’s kingside) 36.gxh5 gxh5 37.Qd7+ Kg6 38.a4

Carlsen - Vachier-Lagrave Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden 2019 Position after 38.a4
Carlsen – Vachier-Lagrave Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden 2019 Position after 38.a4 Black to play

Although both Kings’ shelters have been partially wrecked, Black’s exposed king is more significant as the game continuation shows. 38…Qe2 39.Qd5! Centralisation 39…f5 Black is trying to block in the White king, but this move exposes his own king even more 40.a5 f4 41.Kg2! Kh6 42.Qf5

Carlsen - Vachier-Lagrave Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden 2019 Position after 42.Qf5
Carlsen – Vachier-Lagrave Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden 2019 Position after 42.Qf5 Black to play

42…Qc4 43.Kf3 winning another pawn, so 1-0
Notice how Black’s pawn advances brought down his downfall.

The last four chapters are in a section of the book on
Practical and Strategic Queen Endgames

Chapter 6: The Pawn

The following ideas are discussed:

Breakthrough
Promoting With Check
Reducing the Number of Pawns in Order to Hold the Draw
Pushing a Pawn to Force an Exchange of Queens
Connected Passed Pawns
Gaining Space
Races
Races when Both Sides Have Only One Pawn
Quality vs Quantity
Doubled Pawns

An example from the Quality vs Quantity subsection is given below.
The author states “It’s a well-known and common saying that in queen endgames, ‘it’s not the number of pawns that counts, but their quantity!’ In other types of endgames, the principle of strength in numbers map apply more often, but less so in queen endings.”

This ending has been quoted often:

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Position after 41.Kh2
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Position after 41.Kh2 Black to play

Euwe played the natural centralising move 41…Qd4? which is multi functional, but surprisingly throws away the win.  The h4-pawn is not important here. There is a win with a very subtle move 41…Qd6!!+ which looks like a superfluous check, but forces white to weaken his position.

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Position after 41...Qd6+
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Position after 41…Qd6+ White to play

White now has an invidious choice on how to spoil his position, g3 weakens the king’s shelter and both king moves have their disadvantages. Let’s look at each alternative.
a) 42. g3? Qd4! Now this move gains in strength as white would like to take the f2 pawn exposing White’s king fatally 43.Qb5 Qxf2+ 44.Kh3

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation 1 Position after 44.Kh3
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation A Position after 44.Kh3 Black to play

Black has two different wins here 44…Qf3! (44…Qf5+ also wins) 45.Kh2 (45.Qxb4? Qh1+ 46.Kg4 Qf1! forcing mate or win of queen) 45…b3 46.a5 Qf2+ 47.Kh3 Qg1! winning

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation 1 Position after 47...Qg1
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation A Position after 47…Qg1 White to play

48.Qxb3 Qh1+ 49.Kg4 f5+ 50.Kf4 Qe4#

b) 42.Kh3 b3 43.Qb5 (43.Qc3 Qd7+ exploits White’s wins exposed king, winning the a-pawn) Qa3!! This is unconventional move, putting the queen on the side, but it exploits the exposed White king: the threat of a discovered check is fatal for white.

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation B Position after 43...Qa3
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation B Position after 43…Qa3 White to play

If 44.Qb7 a2+ 45.Kh2 Qa2 wins
If 44.a5 b2+ 45. g3 Qa2 wins as well as 45…Qf3
If 44.h5 b2+ 45.f3 g5 46.Qf5+ Kg7 47.Qe5+ Kg8 48.Qb8+ Kh7 49.Qb7 Qa2 wins

c) 42.Kg1 b3 43.Qb5 Qa3 44.Qc4! b2!!

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation C Position after 44...b2
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation C Position after 44…b2 White to play

Black gives up three pawns to get his king out of the checks. This is a brilliant example of quality over quantity. 45. Qxf7+ Kh8 46.Qf6+ Kg8 47.Qxg6+ Kf8 48.Qxh6+ Ke7 49.Qg7+ Ke6 50.Qg8+ Kd5 51.Qg7+ Kd5 52.Qf7+ Kg4 53.Qg7+ Kc4 54.Qf7+ Kc3 55.Qf3+! Kb4 56.Qb7+ Kxa4 57.Qa6+ Kb3 58.Qe6+ Kc2

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation C Position after 58...Kc2
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Variation C Position after 58…Kc2 White to play

Now after the obvious 59.Qe2+ black plays 59…Kb1!!
The author explains why this wins: “Although Black is two pawns down and apparently has no shelter, he can win. The white king has to give up the back rank due to threats of crosschecks, after which the black king can find shelter on f1! For this reason, sacrificing the f2-pawn is inevitable. Then, in marvellous variations, White, can be forced into zugzwang where he either loses his h-pawn or is force to play Kh3, which means that the black king can find a shelter on g1, which decides the battle.”

Back to the game continuation, after 41…Qd4? 42.Kg3? White defends a pawn with little value and exposes his king fatally. 42.Qb5! draws easily viz: 42…Qxh4+ 43.Kg1 Qe4 44.a5 Qb1+ 45.Kh2 b3 46.Qb7 Kg7 47.a6 Qa2 48.a7 b2= The best Black can achieve here is Q+3 v Q+2 all on one side which is a draw.

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Missed draw in game
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 Missed draw in game Position after 48…b2 White to play

After 42.Kg3? this is the position:

Stahlberg - Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 After fatal mistake 42.Kg3
Stahlberg – Euwe Stockholm Olympiad 1937 After fatal mistake 42.Kg3 Black to play

Black exploited the exposed white king as follows: 42…b3 43.Qb5 b2 44.Qb3 Kg7! winning 45.f4 (Other moves lose as well, for example 45.a5 Qe5+ 46.Kf3 Qf5+) 45… Qd2 0-1

A really instructive game.

Chapter 7: The Queen

The following ideas are discussed:

Exchanging Queens
Zwischenzugs
Passive and Active Queens
Neutralizing Queens
The Queen has Multiple Tasks
Restraining an Enemy Passed Pawn from Behind
Superfluous Checks

The reviewer will show an example on the topic of superfluous checks. The author explains: “In many positions there is no clear plan to implement, and in this case having the move in an over-the-board game creates tension. Rather than finding something constructive to do, or at least find a move that doesn’t compromise their position, players often insert an exchange or a pointless check. Either can harm their position.”

Miron - Lupulescu Romanian Team Ch Sovata 2018 Position after 36...Qf6
Miron – Lupulescu Romanian Team Ch Sovata 2018 Position after 36…Qf6 White to play

This position is objectively equal, although Black’s position looks slightly superior as his pawn majority has been mobilised. White’s pieces are well placed. 37.b4 is equal, but simpler is probably 37.exf5 Qxf5+ 38.Ke2 Qc2+ 39.Qd2 Qe4+ 40.Qe3 is equal, Black has no realistic winning chances.

White played 37.Ke2?! So Black responded with the obvious 37..f4 gaining space and creating a passed pawn 38.Qa7+? The superfluous check that loses. The author quotes John Nunn here: “Nunn pinpoints the basic truth that many people think they must keep giving checks in queen endings. this is one of the most common conceptual mistakes.” 38.Qd3! holds 38…Kg6 39.b4! getting the queen side pawns going draws 38…Kh6

Miron - Lupulescu Romanian Team Ch Sovata 2018 Position after 38...Kh6
Miron – Lupulescu Romanian Team Ch Sovata 2018 Position after 38…Kh6 White to play

After two poor strategic moves, White is totally lost. After 39.Qd7? (39.Qf2 is more resilient but still loses after 39…Kg5)  39…fxg3! won easily as Black’s king can shelter near his passed pawn.

Chapter 8: The King

These topics are covered:

Attacking The King
Stalemate
Avoiding Stalemate
Perpetual Check
Shelters

The section on Shelters is really important and is broken down into 9 further sub-sections:
The Importance of a Good Shelter
Weakening Our Own Shelter
Failing To Reach a Shelter
Invading and Destroying Shelters
Unusual Shelters
Leaving The Shelter to Support Pawns on the Other Wing
Leaving the Shelter to Exchange Queens
Leaving The Shelter to Win a Pawn
Breaking Open The Shelter with Pawn Sacrifices

Here is an example from the Weakening Our Own Shelter section.

Tal - Tseshkovsky Riga 1981 Position after 39...Qg4
Tal – Tseshkovsky Riga 1981 Position after 39…Qg4 White to play

The great Tal made a serious mistake here in a winning queen endgame 40.f3? Voluntarily weakening his king’s shelter: a poor move from a great player. 40.Qd5 centralising the queen wins easily 40…Qc8 41.Qd2 b5 42.Qb4 wins or 40…b5 41.a4 wins 40…Qd7 41.Qd5 Qc7 42.Qd2 b5 43.a3 (43.a4 bxa4 44.bxa4 Qc4 45.a5 Kg6 holding) Qc5 44.Qa2 Qc1 draw agreed

Chapter 9 Complex Queen Endgames rounds off the book with the study of some intricate endings.

This is a great book and is thoroughly recommended. Be prepared to put in some hard work.

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 17th June 2024

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications (27 Nov. 2023)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1805040634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1805040637
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.69 x 23.39 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Secrets of Queen Endgames, Ferenc Berkes and Tibor Karolyi , Gambit Publications, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1805040637
Secrets of Queen Endgames, Ferenc Berkes and Tibor Karolyi , Gambit Publications, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1805040637

The Art of the Endgame: My Journeys in the Magical World of Endgame Studies

The Art of the Endgame
My Journeys in the Magical World of Endgame Studies
Revised Edition – with 14 New Studies
by Jan Timman

From the publisher, New in Chess:

“All through his career Jan Timman has been captivated by the mystery and splendour of endgame studies. Even during his most successful and busy years as a world-class player, Timman continued to compose studies and admire those of others. For him, there has never been any doubt that his journeys in this magical world helped him to grow as a player.

In this fascinating book, first published in 2011, Timman has collected studies by other composers and explains in his lucid style how they inspired him to create dozens of brand-new studies.

Timman has revised the book for this new edition. With the help of engines, Timman discovered that a few studies needed to be corrected or had alternative solutions. He removed six studies and replaced another six with better versions. And fourteen new studies have been added, two of which are published here for the first time.”

About the Author, Jan Timman:

“Jan Timman is a former world championship candidate who rose to number two on the FIDE world rankings. He is the author of several highly acclaimed bestsellers, such as Timman’s Titans and Max Euwe’s Best Games. He was awarded the title of FIDE Master of Composition in 2022.”

GM Jan Timman
GM Jan Timman

This book is a gem and I do remember perusing the first edition at a bookstall a while back, now I have a copy of the second edition.

There is no doubt that familiarity with ideas from endgame studies improves a player’s overall chess ability and imagination.

The reviewer was introduced to endgame studies at a tournament in London when he was junior: I was having lunch in the analysis room, when an older gentlemen showed some Harold Lommer studies involving knight promotions which got me hooked. The acquisition of Test Tube Chess by John Roycroft soon followed.

Jan Timman’s book has a variety of positions some of which are really “game like” whilst others are artistic beauties involving for example multiple promotions.

The book is divided into fourteen themed chapters viz:

Chapter 1: Miniature studies
Chapter 2: Rook versus bishop
Chapter 3: Preventing pawn promotion
Chapter 4: Various promotion combinations
Chapter 5: Knight promotions
Chapter 6: Bishop promotions
Chapter 7: Mating patterns
Chapter 8: Stalemate patterns
Chapter 9: Mutual zugzwang
Chapter 10: Building a fortress
Chapter 11: Systematic manoeuvres
Chapter 12: The disappearing trick
Chapter 13: Three themes
Chapter 14: Various endgame studies

The reviewer will show a variety of positions from various subsections.

Chapter 1: Miniature studies

These are positions with no more than seven pieces. This one is particularly beautiful with a mutual zugzwang.

Position 1

Liburkin
Liburkin, ’64’ 1933 White to play and win

White is a pawn up with black’s king close to the passed pawn, so white needs something special here.
1.Kd1 pins the knight forcing  1…Kf5 2.Ke2 threatening to win the knight. Black bishop’s impedes his king, so he goes after the h-pawn with 2…Bf6 3.Kf3 Bxh4

Liburkin 1934 After 3...Bxh4
Liburkin 1934 After 3…Bxh4

If white takes the bishop 4.Nxh4+ Kg5 attacking the knight saves black. So 4.Bxe4+ Kg5 5.Bd5!Kh5 6.Bf7+ Kg5 7.Be8

Liburkin 1934 After 7.Be8
Liburkin 1934 After 7.Be8

Black is zugzwang and loses the bishop and the game. Note this is a position of mutual zugzwang as white has no good waiting move and cannot win with the move! Very pretty.

Chapter 2: Rook versus bishop

This is the most practical chapter with studies in the complex endgame of R+P v B+P.

Position 18

Reshevsky-Fischer, Los Angeles match (11) Position after 52...Ra2+
Reshevsky-Fischer, Los Angeles match (11) Position after 52…Ra2+

This is a celebrated position where Reshevsky played 53.Kf3? with Fischer missing a clear win by exchanging rooks and occupying g4 with his king. Instead Fischer kept the rooks on. White draws with 53.Kh3!

This study was created to show this:

Position 19

Study based on Reshevsky-Fischer game White to play and draw
Study based on Reshevsky-Fischer game White to play and draw

1.Kg2! Kf5 2.Kh3 Rc4 3.Be7! the only move 3…Rc1 4.Bf8! (The bishop hides itself to prevent a rook check followed by attacking the bishop to allow black to get in Kg4) 4…Rb1 5. Bg7 or 5.Bh6 draws

Chapter 3: Preventing pawn promotion

This is a famous promotion combination from a game which resembles the elegance of a study:

Position 44

Ortueta-Sanz Madrid 1933 Position after 30.h3
Ortueta-Sanz Madrid 1933 Position after 30.h3

Black played 30…Rd2 31.Na4 (31.a4 was better) 31…Rxb2! 32.Nxb2 c3 33.Rxb6 c4!! 34.Rb4 a5!! winning

Ortueta-Sanz Madrid 1933 Position after 34...a5
Ortueta-Sanz Madrid 1933 Position after 34…a5

White cannot prevent the coronation of a new  queen.

The great composer, Pogosyants composed a study with a very similar theme:

Position 46

Pogosyants 1977 White to play and win
Pogosyants, ‘Themes-64’ 1977 White to play and win

The solution is 1.Bg3 dxc4 2.Rxg7! Nxg7 3.f6 Rxg3 4.f5!! Rg5 5.f4! Nxf5 6.f7 wins

Chapter 4: Various promotion combinations

Position 69

Wotawa Schach Magazin 1951 White to play and win
Wotawa Schach Magazin 1951 White to play and win

A game like position. 1.d6 Be5 2.Bb8 threatening d7 winning the bishop, so 2…Bf6 3.d7 Bd8 apparently saving the bishop, but 4.Bg3! a4 5.Bh4! Bxh4 6.g4+ and wins

Chapter 5: Knight promotions

Here is a superb Harold Lommer study with multiple promotions:

Position 96

Lommer 1933 White to play and win
Lommer, ‘Feuille d’Avis de Lausanne’ 1933 White to play and win

White is threatened with a brutal discovered mate by the black monarch. So 1.d8N Bd5 2.g8B!! (2.g8Q allows black a brilliant defence  2…Ke3+ 3.Qxd5 stalemate!) 2… Be4 3.e8R!! (3.e8Q allows another fantastic defence 3…Kg3+ 4.Qxe4 stalemate!) and wins

A brilliant study has with stunning counterplay.

Position 97 shows a famous Lommer involving 5 knight promotions, but unfortunately after the fourth promotion, there is alternative prosaic win promoting to a queen.

Chapter 6: Bishop promotions

Position 112

Rusinek 1971 White to
Rusinek ‘New Statesman’ 1971 White to play and draw

White has an army of far advanced pawns against 3 minor pieces and a well placed black king.

1.a7 Ba6+ 2.b7 Ne4 threatening  Nd6# 3.g8N+ Ke8 4.Nf6+

Rusinek 1971 after 4.Nf6+
Rusinek 1971 after 4.Nf6+

If black plays 4…Ndxf6 5.Kb8 gets the king out of the mating trap, so 4…Nexf6 5.a8B!! (5.a8=Q? Nd5 followed by Ne7#)

Rusinek 1971 after 5.a8B
Rusinek 1971 after 5.a8B

White is attempting a self stalemate, so black must release this and rearrange his pieces. 5…Ne5 (5…Bf1 6.b8N! draws) 6.Kb8 Nc6+ 7.Kc8 Bf1 threatening Bh3# 8.b8R!! (8.b8Q? Ba6+ 9.Qb7 Ne4 10.Qxa6 Nd6#, or 8.b8N? Ne7+ 9.Kb7 Bg2+ 10.Ka7 Nc8+ wins the bishop on a8 and the game)

Rusinek 1971 after 8.b8R
Rusinek 1971 after 8.b8R

8…Ba6+ 9.Rb7! with a draw

Scintillating promotion play.

Position 124

This is a creation of genius and very amusing.

Troitsky, Korolkov 1938-1939 White to play and win
Troitzky, Korolkov 1938-1939 White to play and win

The great Troitzky is involved here. Black threatens a brutal Ng3 mate. 1.Qc3!! (Threatening the key g7 pawn, 1.Qa3? is met by f1N reinforcing the threat on g3 winning for black) 1…Nxc3 2.d8B!! (Not 2.d8Q? Nde4 3.Qxc7 f1N 4.Bf4 Ne2 followed by sacrificing all the knights ending with Qxg3 stalemate) 2…Ne2 3.Bxc7 f1N 4.b8B!! (4.b8Q allows black to sacrifice all the knights on g3 ending with Qg3 stalemate) 4…Ne4 5.B1f4 winning as the three white bishops control the three knights.

Troitzky, Korolkov 1938-1939 Position after 5.B1f4
Troitzky, Korolkov 1938-1939 Position after 5.B1f4

Who says there is no humour in chess?

Chapter 7: Mating patterns

Here is an elegant study by the author, Jan Timman:

Position 163

Timman 2010 White to play and win
Timman 2010 White to play and win

1.h5 preventing Bxa2 as Rd7+ would win easily 1…Kh6 2.Rd8! Bxa2 3.Rh8! Bg8! great counterplay

Timman 2010 Position after 3...Bg8
Timman 2010 Position after 3…Bg8

4.Kc3 a2 5.Kb2 a3+ 6.Ka1 Kg7 7.h6+

Timman 2010 Position after 7.h6+
Timman 2010 Position after 7.h6+

7…Kxh8 8.g7 mate

Chapter 8: Stalemate patterns

Position 167

Rusinek 1973 white to play and draw
Rusinek 1973 White to play and draw

Stalemate looks unlikely here. 1.b6 must be played as white is two pieces down 1…Rf5 2.b7! Rf7+ 3.Kd6 Nc4+ 4.Ke6 Bxb7 5.Rh3+ Kg7 6.Rf3+ Kf8

Rusinek 1973 position after 6...Kf8
Rusinek 1973 position after 6…Kf8

7.Rg8+! Kxg8 stalemate!

Chapter 9: Mutual Zugzwang

Position 189

Here is an entertaining position:

Kliatskin 1924 White to play and win
Kliatskin 1924 White to play and win

1.Rc8+ Kxc8 2.b7+ Kb8 3.d5 Kc7

Kliatskin 1924 Position after 3...Kc7
Kliatskin 1924 Position after 3…Kc7

Now only 4.bxa8B! Kb8 5.Bb7 wins with a position of mutual zugzwang

Chapter 10: Building a fortress

Position 203

Smyslov 2005 White to play and draw
Smyslov 2005 White to play and draw

The elderly former World Champion, Smyslov, composed this amusing study in his eighties. 1.Nb8 Rd6 2.Nd7+! Rxd7 3.Rxg7! Kxg7 4.h4

Smyslov 2005 Position after 4.h4
Smyslov 2005 Position after 4.h4

After 4…Rd6 5.Kg2 Rg6+ 6.Kh3! black has to move the rook off the g-file to avoid stalemate, so white draws!

Chapter 11: Systematic manoeuvres

Kotov, Mitrofanov 1976 White to play and draw
Kotov, Mitrofanov 1976 White to play and draw

The reviewer assumes this is the Mitrofanov of Qg5!! fame.

White plays 1.Rf8+ Bf2 2.g8Q Rxf8 3.c5! 

Kotov, Mitrofanov 1976 Position after 3.c5
Kotov, Mitrofanov 1976 Position after 3.c5

3…Rf7 4.Qg7! Rf6 5.Qg6! Rf5 7.Qg5! Rf4 8.Qg4! Rxf4 stalemate

Chapter 12: The disappearing trick

The disappearing trick is a kind of systematic manoeuvre whereby white plays to achieve a particular position without a certain white piece. This is demonstrated below with a neat study.

Position 260

Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 White to play and win
Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 White to play and win

1.Nd6+ (to create two dangerous passed pawns) cxd6 2.Kh6 Rf6+ 3.Kh5 Rf5+ 4.Kg4 Rf4+ 5.Kh3! Rxf3+

Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 Position after 5...Rxf3+
Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 Position after 5…Rxf3+

Now the king sneaks back minus the f-pawn.

6.Kg4 Rf4+ 7.Kh5 Rf5+ 8.Kh6 Rf6+ 9.Kh7 Rf5

Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 Position after 11...Rf5
Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 Position after 9…Rf5

10.Rf1! (The point of removing the f-pawn) Rxf1 11.c7 Rf5 12.d8N+ Rxd8 13.cxd8N+

Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 Position after cxd8N+
Sochniev, Gurgenidze JT 2004 Position after cxd8N+

13…Kf6 (otherwise white promotes to a queen) 14.g8N mate Brilliant!

The last two chapters are short with some pretty positions.

I heartily recommend this labour of love to the endgame study which will give the reader many pleasurable hours.

FM Richard Webb

FM Richard Webb, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 15th June 2024

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 248 pages
  • Publisher:New in Chess (31 Aug. 2023)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9083328414
  • ISBN-13: 978-9083328416
  • Product Dimensions: ‎7.3 x 2 x 23.7 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

GM Jan Timman
GM Jan Timman
The Art of the Endgame: My Journeys in the Magical World of Endgame Studies, Jan Timman, New in Chess, ISBN-13: 978-9083328416
The Art of the Endgame: My Journeys in the Magical World of Endgame Studies, Jan Timman, New in Chess, ISBN-13: 978-9083328416

King’s Indian Killer: The Harry Attack

King’s Indian Killer: The Harry Attack by Richard Palliser & Simon Williams

From the publisher, Everyman Chess:

“Do you want a simple and practical method to counter Black’s kingside fianchetto defences after 1 d4? A line that takes the initiative from a very early stage and creates difficult practical problems? If so, then The Harry Attack (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 h4!) is for you.

At first this looks like some sort of joke or, at the very least, a weird outlandish line. Aren’t we all taught to focus on development and control of the centre in the early stages? What’s 3 h4 got to do with that? Perhaps surprisingly, this is a very difficult line for Black to counter effectively. This applies not just in practical play but also theoretically, where it is far from straightforward for Black even to find a route to equality. And when Black gets it wrong they are often on the receiving end of a very unpleasant miniature.

You may be thinking that surely the best chess engines can show how to counter this line? No! One of the unexpected features of leading engine play is their enthusiasm for shoving the h-pawn up the board and they fully concur that 3 h4! is a very decent move for White.

Many leading players have taken the hint and 3 h4 is frequently seen at elite level. Richard Palliser and Simon Williams (the GingerGM) provide a thorough guide to this fascinating line. They show how to adapt when Black chooses a King’s Indian set-up, a Grunfeld set-up, a Benoni set-up or even plays in Benko style.

The Harry Attack is easy to learn and is perfect for unsettling players steeped in the theory of their favourite Indian defences.”

Simon Williams is a Grandmaster, a well-known presenter and a widely-followed streamer, as well as a popular writer whose previous books have received great praise. He is much admired for his dynamic and spontaneous attacking style.

 

GM Simon Williams
GM Simon Williams

Richard Palliser is an International Master and the editor of CHESS Magazine. In 2006 he became Joint British Rapidplay Champion and in 2019 finished third in the British Championship. He has established a reputation as a skilled chess writer and written many works for Everyman, including the bestselling The Complete Chess Workout.

IM Richard Palliser
IM Richard Palliser

Harry is a nickname for the h-pawn. The Harry Attack is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!?

Although this book is titled as an anti-King’s Indian system, it is also aimed at the Gruenfeld Defence as the book explains.

The reviewer likes the book and despite his initial scepticism about the Harry Attack (based on his ignorance), has come to realise that this is a serious system that cannot be refuted: in fact it has been adopted at the highest levels. It is not just a one trick pony with the crude idea of hacking down the h-file, it is a sophisticated scheme with many facets including space gain. After just one or two careless moves, black can easily find himself/herself being suffocated, devoid of counterplay.

Of course, it is an “anti-book/theory” system aimed at getting the opponent out of their familiar territory. As ever, these fresh systems soon acquire a fair body of theory!

This book is suitable for club players and above. Chapter 2 gives a pertinent precis of the whole system which would be perfectly adequate for a less experienced player to play the variation with confidence.

The book is divided into seven main chapters:

Chapter 1: Model Games
Chapter 2: The Basic Repertoire
Chapter 3:  Gruenfeldesque Lines
Chapter 4:  Black Obstructs Harry
Chapter 5: Other Third Move Alternatives to 3…Bg7
Chapter 6: King’s Indian Style 3…Bg7
Chapter 7: The Main Line: 3…Bg7 and 6…c5

Chapter 1: Model Games

This is a really good section that shows many of the key ideas of the Harry Attack.  There are six model games that are definitely worth studying. A summary of these games is:

  • Games 1, 2 & 3 show typical continuations if black replies with the Gruenfeld move d5 on moves 3 or 4
    Chapter 3 covers this in more depth
  • Game 4 showcases black blocking Harry with 3…h5
    Chapter 4 gives further coverage when black blocks Harry
  • Game 5 introduces the second player responding in a Modern Benoni fashion
    Chapter 7 gives good guidance on this main line
  • Game 6 demonstrates Peter Svidler responding in Benko Gambit style
    Chapter 7 also presents this important system in more detail

The first two games show black’s difficulties if he insists on playing a Gruenfeld setup. viz: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!? Bg7 4.Nc3 d5?!

Basman - Grinberg Ramat Hasharon 1980
Basman – Grinberg Ramat Hasharon 1980 White to move

Game 1 is a superb model game from the late and great Mike Basman.

After 5.h5! Nxh5 6.cxd5 c6 (6…e6 is a more modern try but white has powerful riposte with an excellent pawn sacrifice covered in Chapter 3. Buy the book to find out.) 7.e4! cxd5 8.e5! A well judged pawn sac’ from the creative Basman viz:

Excellent pawn sac 8.e5
Basman – Grinberg 1980 Excellent pawn sac 8.e5 Black to move

White has a simple threat of 9.g4 winning the stranded knight, after 8…Bf8 9.Nf3 Nc6 (9…Bg4 10.Qb3! is awkward) 10.Qb3! white has a clear advantage:

Basman - Grinberg After 10.Qb3
Basman – Grinberg After 10.Qb3 Black to move

The next few moves showed what a pickle black is in 10…e6 11.g4! Ng7 12.Bh6! reaching this horror show for black:

Basman - Grinberg After 12.Bh6
Basman – Grinberg After 12.Bh6 Black to move

The knight on g7 is particularly awkward. Basman went on to win a fine game.

The second illustrative game shows one of the authors, Simon Williams, in scintillating form beating Katarzyna Toma following the Mike Basman game until move 9, where black varied with 9…Ng7, white responded with the natural 10.Qb3!

Williams - Toma 10.Qb3
Williams – Toma 10.Qb3 Black to move

Stockfish gives this as a clear plus to white. Simon went on to win a fine game.

Chapter 2: The Basic Repertoire

This section gives the reader a quick overview of the repertoire against black’s main tries. It is a useful introduction to all the subsequent chapters. As I stated above, this chapter is adequate coverage for a less experienced player to play this system.

Chapter 3:  Gruenfeldesque Lines

As already mentioned, this covers black’s attempt at an early d5.

Stockfish does not like 4…d5 and  gives 5.h5! with an edge for white already!

4...d5 5.h5
4…d5 5.h5 Black to move

Black’s best move, according to the engine, appears to be the nonchalant 5…0-0 completely ignoring white’s attack! 6.hxg6 hxg6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bh6!

4...d5 early h-file attack
Basman – Grinberg 1980 4…d5 early h-file attack Black to move

This is looks scary for black, but he can defend with 8…Bxh6! 9.Rxh6 Kg7! Nevertheless, white is still for choice here owing to his extra space, central control and the initiative. This is covered in some detail in Chapter 3.
Beware Gruenfeld players!

Chapter 4:  Black Obstructs Harry

Black can block the h-pawn with 3…h6 or 3…h5 which is committal.
The obstructive 3…h5 can lead to either KID or Gruenfeld lines with the extra h4 and h5 moves thrown in. Who does this favour? White can profitably occupy g5 with a bishop or knight that cannot be kicked with h6. Buy the book to find out.

Chapter 5: Other Third Move Alternatives to 3…Bg7

This chapter important alternatives such as the super solid 3…c6 and the more aggressive 3…c5 which can lead to Benoni or Benko Gambit type positions.

The solid 3…c6 cannot be a bad move. White responds by going into a Schlechter Slav viz: 4.Nc3 d5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Bf4 Nc6 7.e3 Bg7 8.Be2 h5 9.Nf3 0-0 10.Qb3

Exchange Slav type position 10.Qb3
Exchange Slav type position 10.Qb3 Black to play

White has a pull here and his position is easier to play. The line given in the book involves black playing a5 a few moves later which is a little compliant creating weaknesses.

After the Benko Gambit type response viz: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4  c5 4.d5 b5!? 5.cxb5 a6 6.e3!

Benko Response 6.e3
Benko Response 6.e3 Black to play

White plays solidly and intends to use b5 as an outpost to slow black’s counterplay. Clearly black has some compensation here but not a full pawn’s worth. A critical line here may be 6…Bg7 7.Nc3  0-0 8.a4! e6!? This is covered in the book.

Chapter 6: King’s Indian Style 3…Bg7

This and the final chapter are probably the key chapters for more experienced players who want to get to the meaty main lines.

Chapter 7: The Main Line: 3…Bg7 and 6…c5

After these natural moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 0-0 6.Be2 c5 7.d5 e6 8.h5 exd5 9.exd5! Re8 10.h6! Bh8  11.Bg5, this tabiya is reached:

Main tabiya
Main tabiya after 11.Bg5 Black to move

This is a hot position played quite a bit at the top level. The open e-file may look scary for white, but the king can slide to f1. White’s space advantage is significant and black can have difficulties finding counterplay. Stockfish gives white about a small advantage. More important than that is understanding the ideas in this interesting position. Get the book to further your knowledge.

For those competitors fed up with meeting reams of KID or Gruenfeld theory, I recommend giving The Harry Attack a go!

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 9th June 2024

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher:  Everyman Chess (12 Jun. 2023)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781947066
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781947067
  • Product Dimensions: 17.17 x 1.4 x 23.39 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

King's Indian Killer: The Harry Attack, Simon Williams and Richard Palliser, Everyman Chess, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781947067
King’s Indian Killer: The Harry Attack, Simon Williams and Richard Palliser, Everyman Chess, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1781947067

Understanding Pawn Endgames

Understanding Pawn Endgames: Valentin Bogdanov

From the publisher, Gambit Publications “Understanding the endgame is fundamental to playing good chess, and at its heart lie positions where just kings and pawns remain on the board.

Even when a pawn ending is not actually reached, the players must often assess ones that could arise from an exchange of pieces. And an error calculating a pawn ending is normally fatal. Questions of pawn-structure, and thus decisions made early in the game, can be fully understood only when we appreciate how they impact the possible pawn endings.

This book takes a practical angle, so is the perfect complement to Secrets of Pawn Endings, which examines their theory in detail. Experienced trainer Bogdanov examines a wealth of pawn endings where strong players made significant errors, and draws lessons and rules of thumb from them.

While we are enjoying the entertaining material in this book, we are painlessly absorbing endgame principles and improving our intuitive decision-making skills. We learn how to calculate and identify key positional elements, and appreciate the beautiful tactics and paradoxical ideas that are unique to the world of pawns.

The Nunn Convention is used throughout the book, and all the material has been checked in detail with modern NNUE-based engines with access to seven-man tablebases.”

International Master Valentin Bogdanov has vast experience as a chess trainer, and is from Ukraine. His pupils include grandmasters Moskalenko, Savchenko and Drozdovsky, and he has acted as a second for the well-known grandmaster and theoretician Viacheslav Eingorn since the late 1970s.

For 50 years he has been a teacher at the chess school in Odesa (Ukraine), and in 2016 won the European Over-65 Championship. In the same year he also qualified as an International Arbiter and has since then officiated over a great many chess events in his country.

This is his fourth book for Gambit.

IM Valentin Bogdanov (UKR)
IM Valentin Bogdanov (UKR)

Before we start our review it is worth watching this video preview from John Nunn and Gambit Publications:

This is a excellent book that has an emphasis on practical king and pawn endgames. All the examples are taken from 1981 onwards which means that the reader will see novel positions rather than a rehash of old favourites. The other fresh approach is the structure of the ten chapters based on themes rather than the number of pawns. This book is not for beginners or very inexperienced club players as it assumes a basic knowledge of elementary pawn endgames. It is aimed at 1750+ chess enthusiasts but ambitious lower rated readers will benefit from some of the easier examples. The more difficult positions will tax GMs. This book would be ideal material for a coach for training purposes to give the students a toolkit of ideas.

The chapter structure is as follows:

Chapter 1: Obvious Errors
Chapter 2: Breakthrough
Chapter 3: Zugzwang
Chapter 4: Opposition and Corresponding Squares
Chapter 5:Spare Tempi
Chapter 6: The Fight To Promote
Chapter 7: Changing the Pawn-Structure
Chapter 8: Calculation
Chapter 9: Evaluating the Resulting Queen Endings
Chapter 10: Positional Play

The reviewer will  show examples distributed from all the chapters to give the reader a flavour of this instructional idyll.

Chapter 1: Obvious Errors

Position 21

Movsesian-Sadvakasov Calvia Olympiad 2004
Movsesian-Sadvakasov Calvia Olympiad 2004              White to play

White, Movsesian, a 2600+ GM played the dreadful blunder 59.Kc6? (throwing away a totally winning pawn endgame. 59.Kc5! wins as the threat is to play Kb4 which will preserve white’s remaining pawn as a b-pawn with the king in front and a reserve tempo move of b3, if 59…a3 60.bxa3! Ke7 61. Kc6 Kd8 62.Kb7! and the a-pawn promotes) 59…Ke6 60.Kb5 reaching this position:

Movsesian-Sadvakasov Move 60 Calvia Olympiad 2004
Movsesian-Sadvakasov Calvia Olympiad 2004 Move 60 Black to play

Now, black drew with a common, but nevertheless neat idea:
60…a3! (transforming white’s pawn into a now useless a-pawn, as black’s king is just close enough to draw) 61.bxa3! Kd7! 62.Kb6 Kc8! reaching c8 with an elementary draw

Position 22

Forcen Esteban - Lagarde
Forcen Esteban – Lagarde Internet rapid 2019 Move 83 Black to play

This position is simpler than the last one.
Both players are rated well over 2500!
Black is to play here and after the obvious 83..b3, it is crystal clear to a novice player that both sides are going to promote with a draw, even though white promotes first. If 83…Kb7 trying to impede the advance of the d-pawn, white can play 84.Kf6 making sure that the d-pawn does promote with a stone cold draw.
Black played 83…Kb8? (Placing the king on the back rank presumably in the mistaken belief that he could stop the white pawn from promoting. 84.Kf6! b3 85.d7! followed by promoting with check, winning the game, thanks to black’s foolish Kb8 move!

Chapter 2: Breakthrough

This is a key topic in pawn endings and there are many beautiful examples. Sometimes, the threat of a breakthrough can limit the opponent’s king manoeuvres, thus winning the game indirectly.
Once a player has seen some pretty examples of this theme, they are never forgotten.

Position 33

Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2004
Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2004                                   White to play

White missed a chance for a standard breakthrough against black’s mangled pawns viz: 35.h5 Kd7 36.g5 reaching this key position:

Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2005 Move 36
Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2005 Move 36                 Black to move

Now there are two main variations:

A) 36…Ke8 37.gxh6! Kf8 38.Kc2 Kg8 39.Kb3

Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2005 variation A
Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2005 variation A

and white wins the race to get a new queen for example: 39… Kh7 (39…a5 40.a4 breaks through) 40.Kb4 Kxh6 41.Kc5 Kxh5 42.Kxd5 Kg4 43.Kc6 Kxf4 44.d5 wins easily

B) 36…fxg5 37.fxg5! Ke8 38.gxh6! Kf8 39.Ke3

Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2005 variation B
Nikolic-Lautier Reykjavik rapid 2005 variation B

39…Kg8 40.Kf4 Kh7 41.Kg5 winning

Back to the original position: white played 35.Kc2? f5! 36.g5 h5! 37. Kb3 draw agreed

Position 36

Gashimov-Anastasian Dubai 2003 Move 53
Gashimov-Anastasian Dubai 2003 Move 53                     White to play

White has an outside passed a-pawn and was probably dreaming of swapping his a-pawn for black’s c-pawn, leaving black to deal with an outside passed b-pawn, while white’s king mops up the king side pawns winning the game, hence his next move 53.Kc3?

A more alert white player would have spotted the danger of black’s advanced kingside pawns. It might look as though black can only create a passed e-pawn as his extra kingside pawn is on the e-file, but this an illusion: black can now breakthrough creating a pawn configuration that ties down the white king permanently, thus allowing black to win on the queenside. Once seen never forgotten!
53…e4! would have won threatening e3 or f3 winning, if 54.Kd2 f3! 55.gxf3 exf3 reaching a position similar to the game

53…Kd5? 54.a4? Pursing his faulty plan, 54.Kd2! would have drawn 54…e4! 55.Kd2 (55.gxf4 allows an immediate breakthrough 55…e3! 56.fxe3 h4! and the h-pawn queens) 55…f3! 56.gxf3 exf3! reaching this position:

Gashimov-Anastasian Dubai 2003 Move 56
Gashimov-Anastasian Dubai 2003 Move 56                    White to play

White’s king is tied down and cannot cross to the c-file as this allows a decisive breakthrough of h4! Therefore black’s king can invade on the queenside with decisive gains viz: 57.Ke3 Kc5 58.Ke4 Kb4 59.Kd4 Kxa4 60.Kxc4 h4 61.b3+ Ka3 62.gxh4 g3! 63.Kd4 0-1

Position 38

Mamedyarov-Sokolov Hoogeveen 2006
Mamedyarov-Sokolov Hoogeveen 2006                             White to play

White missed the elegant 59.f5! b3 60.Kc3! Kd5 61.e6 fxe6 62.f6 62…gxf6 63.h5! and the h-pawn queens.

White played 59.Kc4? and still won after black missed a draw.

Chapter 3: Zugzwang

Here is a subtle example, but nevertheless didactic:

Position 56

Grabarczyk - Rustemov
Grabarczyk – Rustemov Koszalin 1997                                 Black to play

This ending looks like an easy win for black with a extra passed pawn. But be careful!
Black played the natural 52…Kg5? which throws away the win. This won’t become clear for a few moves. 52…Kg6! wins
53.f4+ exf3 54.Kxf3! h5 55.Kg3! reaching a position of mutual zugzwang:

Grabarczyk-Rustemov Mutual Zugzwang
Grabarczyk-Rustemov Mutual Zugzwang

If black had played 52…Kg6, white would be on move here and would be lost as 56.Kh3 or 56.Kf3 would be met by 56…h4 and any other king move would allow 56…Kg4 winning easily.

The game continued 55…h4+ 56.Kf3! Kh5 57.Kf4! Kh6 58.e4! h3 59.Kg3 drawn

Chapter 4: Opposition and Corresponding Squares

The introduction to this chapter is excellent explaining the concept of the opposition, the distant opposition, corresponding squares and triangulation.

Here is a simple example from a game between players rated in the 2400s:

Position 70

Heim - Helmers Reykjavik 1981
Heim – Helmers Reykjavik 1981                                               White to play

White played the “active” 55.Ke4? (55.Kf2! maintaining the distant opposition draws a textbook ending) 55…Ke6! winning the opposition 56. Kf3 Kd5 bypassing 57.Ke3 Ke5! 58.Kf3 Kd4 (another bypass) 59.Kf2 Kd3 60.Kf3 g4+ and white threw in the towel

Chapter 5: Spare Tempi

Position 105

Siugirov - Lupulescu Jerusalem 2015
Siugirov – Lupulescu Jerusalem 2015                                     Black to Play

The author’s explanation of black’s defensive plan here is pithy and pedagogical:

“Black’s defensive plan is to let White  take the a7-pawn and then block the king in permanently in front of his own a-pawn. For this idea to work, Black needs a spare tempo on the kingside, as otherwise he will be forced to release the white king from its a-file prison. Immediately fixing the kingside pawns by 43…g5!? secures two such tempi and is the simplest path to a draw viz: 44.Kc6 Ke5 45.Kb7 Kd6! 46.Kxa7 Kc7! 47.h3 h6 48.a6 h5!”

Siugirov - Lupulescu Jerusalem 2016 Trapped king
Siugirov – Lupulescu Jerusalem 2016 Trapped king

White does not enough tempi to release his imprisoned king.

In practice Black played 43…Kd7 which retains the draw but mis-defended on the next move and lost.

Interestingly, I had a similar position in a game many decades ago with reversed flanks. I won the game and proudly showed the endgame to a friend, who promptly demonstrated a drawing plan for my opponent identical to this game.

Chapter 6: The Fight To Promote

Mchedlishvili - Jankovic
Mchedlishvili – Jankovic Dubai 2009                                     White to move

White totally mis-assessed the resulting king and pawn endgame after the exchange of queens here. He probably thought that his connected passed pawns on the kingside were at least a match for black’s queenside majority. 

34.Qxf7+? Kxf7 35.g4 a5 36.Kf2 c5 37.Ke3 d5 38.Kd3 a5 reaching this position:

Mchedlishvili - Jankovic Winning queenside majority
Mchedlishvili – Jankovic Winning queenside majority

What white missed was that black can create a passed a-pawn and a passed d-pawn (separated by two files) and these pawns can reach the fifth rank safely which means they are unstoppable.

White played the desperate 39.c4 dxc4+ (39…bxc4+ also wins) 40.Kc3 a3 41.h4 Kg6 42.g5 h5 43.Kd2 b4 44.Kc2 c3 white resigned

7: Changing the Pawn-Structure

This is one of the most complex chapters and the hardest to evaluate in practice.

The reviewer will show an excellent example to show a typical idea:

Position 153

Kasparov - Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2003
Kasparov – Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2003  Black to play

Black played the automatic 46…Kc6? White won with a well known technique exploiting the fact that his king is one move ahead in the race to the kingside 47.h4! f5 48.g3! Kc5 (48…Kc7 49.Ka7 Kc6 50.Kb8 wins) 49.Kb7! and black resigned because of this variation: 49…b5 50.axb5 Kxb5 51.Kc7 Kc4 52.Kd6 Kd3 53.Ke6 Ke3 54.Kf6 Kf3 55.Kxg6! Kxg3

Kasparov - Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 possible continuation
Kasparov – Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 possible continuation White to play

56.Kg5! winning

Going back to the original position:

Kasparov - Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2003
Kasparov – Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2003  Black to play

Instead of the passive 46…Kc6? black can actively rearrange the kingside pawn structure to draw as follows:

46…h4! 47.Ka7 f5 48.h3

Kasparov - Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 variation in missed draw
Kasparov – Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 variation in missed draw Black to play

48…Kc6! 49.Kb8 Kc5 50.Kc7 Kb4 51.Kxb6 Kxa4 52.Kc5 Kb3! 53.Kd4 Kc2! 54. Ke5 Kd3 55.Kf6 Ke4 56.Kxg6 Kxf4! 57.Kf6!

Kasparov - Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 variation in missed move 57
Kasparov – Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 variation in missed draw move 57 Black to play

Black draws here with 57…Ke4! 58.Kg5 Ke5! 59.Kxh4 Kf4! 60.g4 (60.g3 Ke3 draws) 60…Ke5! 61.g5 f4! 62.Kg4 Ke4! leads to a drawn Q + h-pawn v Q endgame

Kasparov - Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 variation in missed move 62
Kasparov – Azmaiparashvili Geropotamos rapid 2004 variation in missed draw move 62 White to play

Position 158

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) 53… 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! e5 59.h5! e4 60.h6! e3 61.h7! e2! 62.h8Q e1Q 

Gelfand - Jobava Dortmund 2006 Queen Ending
Gelfand – Jobava Dortmund 2006 Queen Ending            White to play

This looks drawn as the white g-pawn is only on the second rank and the black king is close to it. However, white has a series of checks to exploit the poor position of the black pieces viz:

63. Qb8+ Kg4 64. Qc8+ Kf4 (64…Kg3 65.Qh3! is the same as the game) 65. Qf5+ Kg3 66.Qh3+ Ke5 67.g4!

Gelfand - Jobava Dortmund 2006 Queen Ending Tablebase win
Gelfand – Jobava Dortmund 2006 Queen Ending Tablebase win

Surprisingly this is a tablebase win even though the g-pawn is only on the fourth rank. Looking more closely at the position, black’s pieces are badly placed with the king interfering with the queen. If the black king was in the south west corner, he would draw.

Gelfand did win this game about 50 moves later after mistakes by both sides.

Chapter 8: Calculation

Clearly this is absolutely critical in king and pawn endings.
Here is a relatively simple example:

Position 172

Ikonnikov - Liogky Paris 1998
Ikonnikov – Liogky Paris 1998 Black to play

Black played the obvious exchange 47…hxg5? which loses trivially 48.hxg5! Kf1 49.Kf3! Kg1 50.Kg3 (50.g6 Kh2 51.Kg4! also wins) 50…Kg1 51.g6! Black resigned as white’s king travels to f7 and black’s cannot get to h6 in time.

Ikonnikov - Liogky Paris 1999 End
Ikonnikov – Liogky Paris 1999 Final Position Black to play

Going back to the start:

Ikonnikov - Liogky Paris 1998
Ikonnikov – Liogky Paris 1998

Black can draw with 47…h5! After 48.g6 viz:

Ikonnikov - Liogky Paris 1999 Drawing Line
Ikonnikov – Liogky Paris 1999 Drawing Line

As soon as white plays Kxh5, black will answer Kf4 stalemate!
If white goes after the g-pawn, black draws by going after the h-pawn, for example 48…Kf1 49.Kf4 Kg2 50.Ke5 Kh3 51.Ke6 Kxh4 52.Kf7 Kg3 53.Kg7 h4 54.Kf6 h3 55.g7 h2 56.g8Q+ Kf2 drawing

Chapter 9: Evaluating the Resulting Queen Endings

The introduction to this chapter by the author is a superb summary of the intricacies of these transitions. The reviewer has already given an example from Chapter 7 (position 158), so I will leave the reader to buy the book to sample this chapter.

Chapter 10: Positional Play

Position 259

Radjabov - Ding Liren Internet rapid 2021
Radjabov – Ding Liren Internet rapid 2021 Black to play

This looks very difficult for black as not only does white have a potential outside passed pawn but also a better king. He played 52…Kc6? and lost. Buy the book to find out how black can draw or work it for yourself!

In summary, this is a really good book and close study will reap rewards.  The book is very well laid out and is easy to read with lots of diagrams. Thoroughly recommended.

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

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Here is a pdf extract from Everyman

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.

Understanding Pawn Endgames, Valentin Bogdanov, Gambit Publications, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1915328854
Understanding Pawn Endgames, Valentin Bogdanov, Gambit Publications, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1915328854

Thinkers Chess Academy Volume 3 – Test your chess knowledge – Crucial exercises to sharpen your understanding

Grandmaster Thomas Luther, born in 1969, is the first player with a disability to have entered the FIDE Top 100 rating list. In 2001 he was ranked 80th in the world. He has won the German Championship three times and is well known as an experienced and successful coach. In 2014 his achievements were recognised by being granted the title of FIDE Senior Trainer. In his career to-date he has published several books and DVDs. This is his fourth book for Thinkers’ Publishing, after a co-production with Jugend Schach Verlag entitled ‘Chess Coaching for Kids – the U10 Project‘ and the current series

GM Thomas Luther
GM Thomas Luther

This is the third volume in Thinkers’ Chess Academy (TCA), an ever-growing series written by Grandmaster and FIDE Senior Trainer Thomas Luther intended for beginners through to club standard players.

John Upham has previously reviewed the first volume, First Steps in Tactics, although I note a negative review on Amazon which considered the examples were too hard for the target market. Volume 2, From Tactics to Strategy – Winning Knowledge, which, I believe, hasn’t been submitted for review by BCN, covers more advanced tactics along with an introduction to strategy.

Volume 3 is designed as a workbook for readers of the two previous volumes, while also providing more challenging exercises for ambitious students.

From the author’s introduction (it’s also on the publisher’s website):

Not every reader is ambitious enough or has enough time to work very hard on his chess. That’s quite understandable and nothing to be ashamed of. You can enjoy chess very well without being a strong tournament player. You could just entertain yourself by playing through interesting combinations. In this case don’t try too hard to solve the Advanced Lessons or Master Class exercises. Have a look to make yourself familiar with the position, than look at the solution and enjoy the surprising combinations. You won’t learn as much as you would by racking your brain to crack the hard nuts. But some knowledge and experience will certainly rub off and increase your understanding of chess. I hope this book will help you to work towards your goals and let have you fun with chess.

The book has an unusual structure. We have 20 chapters alternately easier and harder, with the answers at the end of each chapter. Less experienced players are advised to work through the odd numbered chapters first before tackling the odd numbered chapters, while stronger players could work through the book in order, using the odd numbered chapters as ward-up exercises.

An interesting concept, but does it work? Let’s take a look inside. All the odd numbered chapters are billed simply as ‘Quick Test’, although their specific themes are discussed in the chapter introductions.  The first Quick Test, which corresponds to Chapter 7 of TCA1, features mates in up to 2 moves. Other tests involve winning material in various ways. There is a gradual increase in length and complexity, until, by Chapter 19 you’ll be able to find wins (material or mate) in up to 5 moves.

I enjoyed Chapter 9 (Quick Test 5): From The Good Old Times!

Can you find this mate in 3 (Napier – Amateur 1904)?

Ng5+ is only a mate in 4: it’s quicker and more spectacular to play 1. Qg6+ Bxg6 2. Ng5+ hxg5 3. hxg6#

This, for example is Q12 in Chapter 19.

If you can solve this within a few seconds you’re a pretty good tactician: quite a jump forward from the simple positions in Chapter 1.

In case you haven’t spotted it yet: 1. Bxf6 Bxf6 2. Qxe6+ Kg7 3. Qxf6+ Kxf6 4. Nxd5+ followed by 5. Nxb6.

The even numbered chapters, apart from Chapter 2, have more specific titles, Chapters 4-12 being Advanced Lessons and Chapters 14-20 being Master Classes. We have (from 4 in steps of 2): Easy Tactics in the Endgame, Chess History, Checkmate in Up to 5 Moves, Advantage or Mate in Up to 5 Moves, All Kinds of Draws, Advantage in 5 or More Moves, The Classics, Studies and finally The Long Way to Checkmate. Yes, of course some two move combinations can be much harder to spot than some five move combinations, but the author has been very careful in his choice of material.

This is from Chapter 10: Mohammad Fahad – Vatsal Mumbai 2018.

White won by continuing 17. fxe6 fxe6 18. Nxe5 dxe5 19. Nxe6 Bxe6 20. Bb5+ Kf7 21. Qf2+ Bf6 22. Rxd8. A nice example of a clearance; very difficult to see, according to Luther.

Like many leading chess teachers these days, Thomas Luther is very keen on endgame studies. “Don’t be frightened or repulsed by the studies”, he says in the introduction to Chapter 4. “They are not like problem chess but very practical and instructive. You can learn a lot by trying to solve them.”

Here, from Chapter 18, is an 1851 study by Horwitz and Kling.

The solution runs like this: 1. Ra4+ Ke5 2. Ra5 c5 3. Rxc5 Qxc5 4. d4+ Qxd4 5. Nc6+ Kd5 6. Nxd4 Kxd4 7. Kf3

Instructive, I think, because you need to know basic KP v K theory as well as being able to spot knight forks.

The book is beautifully produced and the author has clearly put a lot of thought into both the selection of the puzzles and the structure of the chapters.

If you’re following the Thinkers’ Chess Academy series you’ll definitely want this book. If you’re looking for a book, with puzzles you probably haven’t seen before, this book would also be an excellent choice. I would place this volume high up in my list of recommended puzzle books for club standard players.

Of course many players these days prefer to solve puzzles online, but there’s also much to be said for the old-fashioned method of using a book. Although I’d guess the main target market would be roughly 1250-1750 rated players, anyone between, say, 1000 and 2000 strength would find this book both instructive and enjoyable. Lower rated players should work through the odd numbered chapters first, while higher rated players will prefer to start at the beginning and work through sequentially.

If you want to make sure the book’s for you, you can read the first three chapters here.

Richard James, Twickenham 3rd June 2024

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details:

  • Softcover : 362 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (20 Dec. 2022)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9464201673
  • ISBN-13: 978-9464201673
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 2.54 x 23.37 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Thinkers Chess Academy Volume 3 – Test your chess knowledge – Crucial exercises to sharpen your understanding, Thomas Luther, Thinker's Publishing, Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (20 Dec. 2022)
Thinkers Chess Academy Volume 3 – Test your chess knowledge – Crucial exercises to sharpen your understanding, Thomas Luther, Thinker’s Publishing, Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (20 Dec. 2022)