Category Archives: Endgame

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

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.

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

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

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)

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

Search Results Web results Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings
Search Results
Web results
Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings

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

Remembering David Vincent Hooper (31-viii-1915 03-v-1998)

David Vincent Hooper, from The Encyclopedia of Chess, Harry Golombek
David Vincent Hooper, from The Encyclopedia of Chess, Harry Golombek

BCN Remembers David Vincent Hooper (31-viii-1915 03-v-1998)

David Hooper (seated right) in play at the West of England Championships in Bristol, Easter, 1947. His opponent , ARB Thomas , was that year's champion. Among the spectators is Mrs. Rowena Bruce, the 1946 British Ladies' Champion. BCM, Volume 118, #6, p.327. The others in the photo are L - R:  H. V. Trevenen; H. Wilson-Osborne (WECU President); R. A. (Ron) Slade; Rowena Bruce; Ron Bruce; H. V. (Harry) Mallison; Chris Sullivan; C. Welch (Controller); F. E. A. (Frank) Kitto.
David Hooper (seated right) in play at the West of England Championships in Bristol, Easter, 1947. His opponent , ARB Thomas , was that year’s champion. Among the spectators is Mrs. Rowena Bruce, the 1946 British Ladies’ Champion. BCM, Volume 118, #6, p.327. The others in the photo are L – R: H. V. Trevenen; H. Wilson-Osborne (WECU President); R. A. (Ron) Slade; Rowena Bruce; Ron Bruce; H. V. (Harry) Mallison; Chris Sullivan; C. Welch (Controller); F. E. A. (Frank) Kitto.

Ken Whyld wrote an obituary which appeared in British Chess Magazine, Volume 118 (1998), Number 6, page 326 as follows :

DAVID VINCENT HOOPER died on 3rd May this year in a nursing home in Taunton. He had been in declining health for some months. Born in Reigate, 31st August 1915, his early chess years were with the Battersea CC and Surrey.

David Hooper (left) in conversation with Alan Phillips. Location and photographer unknown.
David Hooper (left) in conversation with Alan Phillips. Location and photographer unknown.

He won the County Championship three times, and the London Championship in 1948. His generation was at its chess peak in the years when war curtailed opportunities, but he won the British Correspondence Championship in 1944. His games from that event are to be found in Chess for Rank and File by Roche and Battersby.

Chess for the Rank and File
Chess for the Rank and File

Also at that time, he won the 1944 tournament at Blackpool, defeating veteran Grandmaster Jacques Mieses.

David was most active in the decade that followed, playing five times in the British Championship. His highest place there was at Nottingham 1954, when, after leading in the early stages, he finished half a point behind the joint champions. David was in the British Olympic team at
Helsinki 1952, and in the same year accidentally played top board for England in one of the then traditional weekend matches against the Netherlands. British Champion Klein took offence at a Sunday Times report of his draw with former World Champion Dr. Euwe on the Saturday and refused to play on Sunday. Thus David was drafted in to meet Euwe, and acquitted himself admirably. Even though he lost, the game took pride of place in that month’s
BCM.

Alan Phillips plays David Hooper on August 20th 1954 in round five of the British Championships in Nottingham, photographer unknown
Alan Phillips plays David Hooper on August 20th 1954 in round five of the British Championships in Nottingham, photographer unknown

In the following game, played in the Hastings Premier l95l-2, he found an improvement on Botvinnik’s play against Bronstein in game 17 of their 1951 match, when 7.Ng3 was played because it was thought that after 7.Nf4 d5 it was necessary to play 8 Qb3.

In his profession as architect David worked in the Middle East for some years from the mid-1950s, and when he returned to England he made his mark as a writer. His Practical Chess Endgames has an enduring appeal. Two of his books appeared in the Wildhagen biographical games series on Steinitz, and Capablanca. The last was written jointly with Gilchrist. With Euwe he wrote A Guide to Chess Endings; with Caffefty, A Complete Defence to 1.e4, A Complete Defence to 1.d4, and Play for Mate; with Brandreth The Unknown Capablanca, and with me The Oxford Companion to Chess.
Ken Whyld

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

British amateur (an architect by profession) whose best result was =5 in the British Championship at Felixstowe 1949 along with, amongst others, Broadbent and Fairhurst.

Hooper abandoned playing for writing about chess and has become a specialist in two distinct areas. He is an expert on the endings and has a close knowledge of the history of chess in the nineteenth century.

His principal works : Steinitz (in German), Hamburg, 1968; A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, London 1970.

Here is his brief Wikipedia entry

William Steinitz : Selected Chess Games
William Steinitz : Selected Chess Games
 A Guide to Chess Endings, Dover (1976 reprint), ISBN 0-486-23332-4
A Guide to Chess Endings, Dover (1976 reprint), ISBN 0-486-23332-4
Practical Chess Endgames (Chess Handbooks), Law Book Co of Australasia, ISBN 0-7100-5226-X
Practical Chess Endgames (Chess Handbooks), Law Book Co of Australasia, ISBN 0-7100-5226-X
A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, Bell & Hyman, ISBN 0-7135-1761-1
A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, Bell & Hyman, ISBN 0-7135-1761-1
The Unknown Capablanca, B.T. Batsford, ISBN 978-0-486-27614-4
The Unknown Capablanca, B.T. Batsford, ISBN 978-0-486-27614-4
 A Complete Defence to 1P-K4: A Study of Petroff's Defence (2nd ed.), Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024088-7
A Complete Defence to 1P-K4: A Study of Petroff’s Defence (2nd ed.), Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024088-7
A Complete Defence to 1d4: A Study of the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024102-6
A Complete Defence to 1d4: A Study of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024102-6
Play for Mate (1990), DV Hooper and Bernard Cafferty, ISBN-13: 978-0713464740
Play for Mate (1990), DV Hooper and Bernard Cafferty, ISBN-13: 978-0713464740
The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280049-3
The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280049-3

Remembering Timothy George Whitworth (31-vii-1932 17-iv-2019)

Timothy George Whitworth
Timothy George Whitworth

BCN remembers Timothy George Whitworth (31-vii-1932 17-iv-2019)

Endgame Magic
Endgame Magic

Here is an excellent article from Brian Stephenson

and here is an appreciation by John Beasley

Endgame Magic
Endgame Magic

Here is an obituary from The Guardian

Leonid Kubbel's Chess Endgame Studies
Leonid Kubbel’s Chess Endgame Studies
Mattison's Chess Endgame Studies
Mattison’s Chess Endgame Studies
Mattison's Chess Endgame Studies, Whitworth, T. G., 01-12-1987. ISBN 978-0-900846-47-2., British Chess Magazine, Quarterly, Number 23
Mattison’s Chess Endgame Studies, Whitworth, T. G., 01-12-1987. ISBN 978-0-900846-47-2., British Chess Magazine, Quarterly, Number 23
The Platov Brothers : Their Chess Endgame Studies
The Platov Brothers : Their Chess Endgame Studies
Timothy George Whitworth
Timothy George Whitworth

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids : John Nunn

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids
Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids

John Nunn has written around thirty books on chess and many of these are some of the finest chess books published in any language : Secrets of Pawnless Endings (1994, Batsford) easily is 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

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids is the eighth in a highly successful series of “for Kids” books. Indeed, we recently reviewed Chess Opening Traps for Kids and Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids.  The Workbook theme is likely to be extended other “for Kids” style books from Gambit Publications.

This workbook is a follow-up to the original (2015) and much liked Chess Endgames for Kids by Karsten Müller :

Chess Endgames for Kids
Chess Endgames for Kids

From the rear cover :

“This is a book for those who have started to play chess and want to know how to win from good positions and survive bad ones.

The endgame is where most games are decided, and knowing all the tricks will dramatically improve your results. Endgame specialist John Nunn has drawn upon his decades of experience to present the ideas that are most important in real games. Step by step he helps you uncover the key points and then add further vital knowledge.

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids is the third in a new series of books that help players gain chess skills by solving hundreds of carefully chosen exercises. The themes are similar to those in Gambit’s best-selling ‘Chess for Kids’ series, but the focus is on getting hands-on experience. Many positions build on ones given earlier, showing how advanced ideas are normally made up of simpler ones that we can all grasp.

Each chapter deals with a particular type of endgame and features dozens of exercises, with solutions that highlight the key points. For each endgame we are given tips on the themes that are most important and the strategies for both sides. The book ends with a series of test papers that enable you to assess your progress and identify the areas that need further work.

Dr John Nunn is one of the best-respected figures in world chess. He was among the world’s leading grandmasters for nearly twenty years and won four gold medals in chess Olympiads. In 2004, 2007 and 2010, Nunn was crowned World Chess Solving Champion, ahead of many former champions.”

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

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids is robustly (!) hardbound in a convenient size such that weights are not need to keep it propped open (unlike some A5 paperbacks) meaning studying with this book is more convenient than with many books. The layout and printing is clear (as you would expect with Gambit) with numerous diagrams at key moments in each, relatively short, game. In essence, players under 18 (for whom this book is intended) will find it easy to dip in out of and it can be used without a board (although BCN and most chess teachers and coaches would always recommend following each game on a “proper” board).

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 symbolic “whose move it is” indicator. Each diagram does have coordinates which are very welcome for the younger junior reader.

The book is divided into 8 chapters as follows :

  1. The Lone King
  2. King and Pawn Endings
  3. Minor Piece Endings
  4. Rook Endings
  5. Rook and Minor Piece Endings
  6. Queen Endings
  7. Endgame Tactics
  8. Test Papers

Each chapter has an introduction to the type of ending examined, followed by a good number (at least 20 – 40 ) of exercises followed by “Tougher Exercises”. Each chapter concludes with Solutions (and excellent explanations) to each exercise.

Here is an example (#39) from Chapter 2 :

“Should White play 1 a5 or 1 Kc6, and what is the result ?”

The solution is at the foot of this review.

Just as for Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids, it was clear when working through the easier set of exercises that the author had thought carefully about their sequence since the reader should (we did for sure !) notice the level of difficulty increasing slowly but surely. The solutions are remote from the puzzles nicely avoiding the “accidentally seeing the solution” issue one gets with lesser books. The solutions themselves are clear and concise and instructional in their own right.

We found chapters 7 & 8 particularly rewarding and Test Papers puts the previous chapters into context. Precise calculation is order of the day rather then intuition.

One negative comment we would make (and we are struggling to make any!) concerns the cover. “Never judge a book by its cover” we are told and you might look at this book cover and think it was suitable for say primary aged children. We would say not but we would suggest it suitable from secondary aged children. We would say strong juniors from 12 upwards would read this book and enjoy it.

As we previously mentioned in our review of Chess Opening Traps for Kids, The title and cover might, perhaps, put off the adult club player market. However, the content is totally suitable for adult club players upto say 180 ECF or 2000 Elo.

In summary, we recommend this book to any junior or adult who wishes to improve their core endgame skills and results. It makes an excellent book for the new year for young players and the young at heart !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, February 27th 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 128 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd; Workbook edition (15 Nov. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911465384
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911465386
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids
Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids

Solution to #39 :

39) At the moment White’s g-pawn holds back all three enemy pawns. The winning idea is to stalemate Black’s kings and use zugzwang to force Black to push a pawn : 1 a5! (1 Kc6? Ka7 2 Kd6 doesn’t work because White will not promote with check if Black’s king is not on the back rank; then 2…h5! 3 gxh5 g4 4 h6 g3 5 h7 g2 h8Q g1Q leads to a drawn ending with equal material) 1…Kc8 2 a6 Kb8 3 a7+ Ka8 4 Ka6 (forcing Black to self-destruct on the kingside) 4…h5 5 gxh5 f5 6 h6 f4 7 h7 f3 8 h8Q#.

Chess Tests

Chess Tests
Chess Tests

Chess Tests : Mark Dvoretsky

From the rear cover :

“Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2016) is considered one of the greatest chess instructors in the modern era. He left behind a great legacy of many books and publications. At the time of his passing, there were two unpublished manuscripts he had finished (and one other co-authored with study composer Oleg Pervakov).”

IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky
IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky

And from the Foreword by Artur Yusupov :

“Chess Tests offers chess players material of very high quality for working on various themes, from training combinative vision to techniques of realizing advantages. I recommend using those materials for in-depth work in the directions mentioned in the book. If you follow this advice, then this volume will become a valuable addition to your chess studies and will help you reinforce skills and knowledge you have already obtained. “And here is probably the most important point. Dvoretsky wanted to write a book that would not only teach some intricacies of chess, but would also be simply a pleasure to read for aficionados of the game, so he tried to amass the ‘tastiest’ of examples here. I hope that this last book by him is going to achieve this, presenting its readers with many chess discoveries and joy of communication with the great coach and author.”

IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky holding forth with Jonathan Speelman, Jonathan Manley., Mihai Suba and Bernard Cafferty. Photograph : Mark Huba
IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky holding forth with Jonathan Speelman, Jonathan Manley., Mihai Suba and Bernard Cafferty. Photograph : Mark Huba

This book (also available as an eBook) is divided into seven chapters as follows :

  1. Training Combinational Vision, 32 tests
  2. Candidate Moves, 38 tests
  3. Calculating Variations, 18 tests
  4. Attack and Defense, 28 tests
  5. Positional Play, 52 tests
  6. Realizing an Advantage, 24 tests
  7. Endgame Tests, 35 tests

and each of these is further sub-divided. Above we have indicated a number of tests for each chapter. Each of these tests comprises a position diagram with a whose move it is indicator.

Unusually, the tests sections comprise the first 62 pages and pages 63 – 206 are the solutions. So, this book is a little unusual for a standard “tactics” book in that the bulk of the text is in form of solutions and explanations.

So, this is much, much more than a routine tactics book. As you might expect from Dvoretsky the bonuses come from the solutions. It is clear that Dvoretsky had gone to great lengths to collect the test positions, and, as we found (in the BCN office), they were an absolute delight to work on. To whet your appetite here is a pleasing example from “Tasty Tactics #2 :

And here is the solution that you may wish to cover up for now :

6. Stern-Sanakoev, corr wch 1994-99

51…Ra5-a1!!

A fine queen deflection that prepares a mating attack.

52.Qb1xa1 Qd6xh2+1 53.Rh3xh2 Nf5-g3+ 54.Kh1-g1 Bc7-b6+ 55.Re1-e3 Bb6xe3#

52.Qe4 does not help..

The same combination leads to a won endgame : 52…Qxh2+ 53.Rxh2 Ng3+ 54. Kg1 Bb6+ 55.Qd4 Bxd4+ 56.cd Rxe1+ 57.Kf2 Nf1 (57…Re3!?;57…Rh1!?), but a quicker way to finish the game is 52…Qf4! (there is a threat of both 53…Qxe4 and 53…Qf1+) 53.Qe8+ Kg7 54.Rxa1 Qxh2+! 55.Rxh2 Ng3+ 56.Kg1 Bb6+.

and here is a beautiful example from Tasty Tactics #4 :

but we won’t give the solution here : you will either have to solve this yourself or buy the book or both !

The general standard of these tests is high : even the tests labelled as “not very difficult” are challenging to say the least. Particularly instructive was the “Realizing an Advantage” section which includes subsections labelled “Technique”.  Here is an example :

and here is a particularly tricky example :

In summary, this is a wonderful book and a great testament to the legend that is Mark Dvoretsky. We cannot recommend this book highly enough and claim that is it one of the best chess books of 2019. Please get it and enjoy it !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire 24th February 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 208 pages
  • Publisher:  Russell Enterprises (15 Nov. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859065
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.6 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Chess Tests
Chess Tests

Improve Your Practical Play in the Endgame

Improve Your Practical Play in the Endgame : Alexey Dreev

Improve Your Practical Play in the Endgame
Improve Your Practical Play in the Endgame

“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 Alexey Dreev
GM Alexey Dreev

From Wikipedia :

Alexey Sergeyevich Dreev (Russian: Алексей Сергеевич Дреев; born 30 January 1969[1]) is a Russian chess player. He was awarded the title Grandmaster by FIDE in 1989.

While being a promising young chess talent, he was for a period coached by the world-class chess trainer Mark Dvoretsky.

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.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard feature of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.

This author of this book is Alexey Dreev, super GM who reached the quarter finals of the candidates in 1991.

This excellent book is packed full of instructive, exciting endgames, taken from top level games, including many of Dreev’s own games
extensively analysed with short pithy didactic comments.

Many of the examples are complex and require serious study to really gain the understanding of practical endgames.

This book is a pleasure to read with an excellent layout and plenty of diagrams making it easy to peruse anywhere.

The book is divided up into six chapters, but not on piece configurations (except for chapter 5) but on aspects of play:

  1. Particular Endgames,
  2. Defence,
  3. Hidden Resources,
  4. Prophylaxis,
  5. Pawn Endgames and Transitioning into Pawn Endgames,
  6. Converting

Each chapter has eight or nine examples analysed in depth followed by a similar number of exercises which will really test the reader;
I did get a few right without moving any pieces.

One of favourite chapters is Particular Endgames which mostly covers positions with material imbalance such as Q v pieces
which the vast majority of players would find fascinating. There is an excellent example no 3 showing the use of a space advantage in B+2Ns endgame.

Following is the first example in the Chapter on Defence and a new perspective on a famous game.

My other favourite chapter is Pawn Endgames and Transitioning into Pawn Endgames which shows the rich complexity of king and pawn endgames
and the crucial importance of this topic.

In my experience, this transition is commonly mishandled by players of all standards: I have spoiled winning endgames in this area and I have seen countless games spoiled by poor play in pawn endgames, so study of this chapter will reap rich rewards for a reader.

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 17th January 2020

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 248 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (5 Oct. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510596
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510594
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Improve Your Practical Play in the Endgame
Improve Your Practical Play in the Endgame