Category Archives: Puzzles

Battle of Endgames: 1066 Stratagems for you to Conquer

Battle of Endgames, Ray Cannon, Amazon, 9th June, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8518031715
Battle of Endgames, Ray Cannon, Amazon, 9th June, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8518031715

From the back cover:

The author has written what he believes to be an original book on the endgame, using a play on words for the title based on the historic battle of Hastings in 1066 which involved William the Conqueror.
*****

Ray Cannon, a familiar frequenter of chess tournaments in London and elsewhere, has condensed his copious knowledge into an enjoyably instructive compendium of endgame positions. In tune with the Victorian notion of learning via fun, the reader cannot help but absorb the endgame stratagems that recur in the examples given and emerge as a better player without any conscious effort.

The endgame is a prime arena for the emergence of error through lack of practice, and even elite grandmasters can miss the unsuspected anti-intuitive resource that would have secured the rescue draw or shock win. I would go so far as to say this book would benefit master-standard players. Studying it has all the value of learning one’s times tables but without the repetitive drudgery! The end result is the same: increased knowledge.

Julian Simpole

Jimmy Adams and Ray Cannon at a 2012 meeting in Norwich of the Ken Whyld Association

My good friend Ray Cannon, who was, for many years, an invaluable part of the coaching team at Richmond Junior Club, has written a book which will be useful for all club standard players.

With faster time limits and online play now the norm, endings play a vital part in 21st century chess. A good knowledge of endgame theory and tactics is a fundamental requirement for all serious players.

From the author’s introduction:

Positions in this book have been taken from various sources including my collection of newspaper cuttings that go back to the 1970’s, books, magazines, websites and even from games I had witnessed personally at tournaments. Many have been modified for reasons of clarity and a few I have composed myself. Most of the positions have annotated solutions unless the moves are self-explanatory.

The 1066 diagram positions can be played out against a computer or an opponent but they are best solved using a chess set. You are invited to write down your choice of move for each position on the pages provided before looking up the answers. On the other hand, you may simply prefer to enjoy the instructive content of this book by dipping in and out of its pages.

Endgames may give the appearance of being easy  but even the world’s best players misplay them from time to time and some of these missed opportunities from practical play are included among the 1066 stratagems.

The majority of the puzzles are elementary but there are a few that are quite difficult. When solving them, you will detect familiar methods of play. Knowledge of these is often referred to as pattern recognition and this is an important component of learning and improving at chess. 

So what you get is 1066 endgame puzzles, or stratagems as Ray prefers to call them. It’s White’s move in positions 1 to 728, and Black’s move in positions 729 to 1066. In each position you’re told whether you’re trying to win or draw, and you know that there’s only one move to achieve your aim.

A few fairly random examples chosen simply by turning to a random page will show you what to expect. I’ll give the answers at the end of the review.

Q482 is a neat draw: White to play.

Q497 is of practical value. Endings with R + f&h pawns against R are very often drawn. How can White win here?

Q533, halfway through the book, has more pieces on the board (too many for an endgame?) and demonstrates the need to know your mating patterns. White to play and win again.

If you enjoyed these puzzles, you’ll certainly enjoy the rest of the book. If you think your students will enjoy these puzzles, you’ll also want to buy this book.

It’s self-published via Amazon so the production qualities are not quite up to the standard you’d expect from leading chess book publishers. However, the diagrams and text are both clear.

Ray has chosen to print the ‘Black to play’ puzzles with the 8th rank at the bottom of the board: not what I or most authors would have chosen but I can see why he did it. There’s a slight problem, though, in that the diagrams are without coordinates, which can make things slightly confusing in positions with few pawns on the board. (The diagrams in the answers to the ‘Black to play’ do have coordinates, though.) I understand the next edition will use diagrams with coordinates throughout.

You might also prefer to write your answers under the diagrams rather than in the pages provided for this purpose at the beginning of the book. I’d also have welcomed an index by material so that I could quickly locate, for example, pawn endings or rook endings.

These are just personal preferences, though. The quality of material is excellent (all positions have been thoroughly engine checked) and Ray Cannon should be congratulated for his efforts in producing a highly instructive puzzle book.

A basic knowledge of endgame theory is assumed, so I would consider the book ideal for anyone rated between about 1500 and 2000, although some of the puzzles will be challenging for stronger players.

Richard James, Twickenham, 17th September 2021

Richard James
Richard James

Answers:
Q482: 1. f7+ Qxf7 2. Bb3 Qxb3 is stalemate. Or 1… Kxf7 2. Bh5+. In just two moves we have a fork, a skewer, a pin and a stalemate.

Q497: 1. Rg5+ Kxg5 (or 1… Kxh6 2. Rg8) 2. h7 Re1+ 3. Kd6 Rd1+ 4. Ke7 Rh1 5. f8Q wins (as long as you know how to win with queen against rook!)

Q533:  1. Re8+ Rxe8 2. Nf6 Ra7 3. Rxa7 Re7 4. Rxe7 a1Q 5. Rh7# – an Arabian Mate!

You can buy the book on Amazon here.

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B096TTR6RB
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (9 Jun. 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8518031715
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.6 x 1.42 x 23.39 cm
Battle of Endgames, Ray Cannon, Amazon, 9th June, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8518031715
Battle of Endgames, Ray Cannon, Amazon, 9th June, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8518031715
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Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus

Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus, Adams, Nunn, Burgess, So, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1911465652
Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus, Adams, Nunn, Burgess, So, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1911465652

From the publisher:

“If you had to choose a single luxury chess item to take to a desert island, then how about this: a superb selection of 400 puzzles to solve? Each author has carefully chosen 100 original positions, graded by difficulty and theme into four sections of 25. The emphasis throughout is on entertainment, instruction and inspiration. The solutions pinpoint lessons to be learnt and explain why plausible but incorrect solutions fail.”

“This book is written by an all-star team of authors. Wesley So is the reigning Fischer Random World Champion, the 2017 US Champion and the winner of the 2016 Grand Chess Tour. Michael Adams has been the top British player for the last quarter of a century and was a finalist in the 2004 FIDE World Championship. John Nunn is a three-time winner of both the World Solving Championship and the British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award. Graham Burgess is Gambit’s Editorial Director and the author of 30 books.”

End of blurb…

Before we dig in we suggest you take at look at this video about the book from John Nunn himself.

We all love puzzle books and this book is no exception. This excellent, entertaining book is split up into four sections by author:

Each author supplies 100 puzzles broken up into four chapters which progressively get harder. There are a few specialist chapters such as Graham Burgess’ Opening Themes which is one of my favourite parts.

The reviewer will kick-off by demonstrating some of the puzzle posers from Michael Adams’ section.

Black has just moved his to queen to h5 to offer the exchange of queens. What did he miss?

 Ray-Robson-Eugene-Perelshteyn-Lubbock-2010

Ray Robson-Eugene Perelshteyn Lubbock 2010

Solution: Black overlooked the stunning rejoinder: 14.Nd5! winning the bishop on e7. Black cannot move his queen to defend the bishop. If black tries 14…Qxd1, the intermezzo 15.Nxe7+ followed by recapturing the queen, wins a piece. Black cannot retreat the bishop with 14…Bd8 as 15.Nxf6+ followed by 16.Qxh5 wins black’s queen.

The next position reminds the reviewer of a game he won with this tactical idea in an early club match as a junior.

White has just played Ra5 going after the a-pawn. What did he overlook?

Boris-Gulko-Michael-Adams-Internet-2020
Boris Gulko-Michael Adams Internet 2020

Adams unleashed the devastating 37…Ne3+ exploiting the seventh rook for his rook. After 38. fxe3 Rb2+ white resigned because of 39. Kh3 Qxf3 40. Qc8+ Kh7 followed by a quick massacre of the white king.

In the next position, white has a clear advantage with a big lead in development. White played 20.Qd7 and won easily. Can you spot a quicker and more elegant  route to victory?

Laurent-Fressinet-Vladimir-Malaniuk-Bastia-2010
Laurent Fressinet-Vladimir Malaniuk Bastia 2010

20. Re8+ Bxe8 21.Qg3+ kills black prettily on the diagonals 21…Qe5 22.Qxe5#

In the next position, black is threatening the brutal Rc1#. How does white get the knife in first?

Vasilios-Kotronias-Francisco-Vllejo-Pons-Budva-2009
Vasilios Kotronias-Francisco Vallejo Pons Budva 2009

White wins with a common mating pattern: 42.Rh7+ Kxh7 43.Nf6+ Kh8 44.Rg8#

This next position was from a marathon blitz game. White has slowly edged his pawns forward and has just played 215. Re4. What was black’s response to abruptly end the game?

Vasily-Ivanchuk-Peter-Leko-Moscow-blitz-2007
Vasily Ivanchuk-Peter Leko Moscow blitz 2007

Peter Leko found the incisive 215…Qf7+ 216.Kxf7 stalemate, ending the torture.

In the next puzzle, black has just played Rd8. What was white’s crisp response?

Michael-Adams-Vladislav-Borovikov-Kallithea-2002
Michael Adams-Vladislav Borovikov Kallithea 2002

38. Qe8+ mates 38…Rxe8 39.Rxe8+ Kg7 40.Bf8+ Kg8 41. Bh6#

Nigel Short,  a brilliant tactician, missed a golden opportunity here. What is white’s best move?

Nigel-Short-Jan-Timman-London-2008
Nigel Short-Jan Timman London 2008

The rampant white knights stomp all over black with 19.Nd6! threatening 20.Nxc6+ and Nf7+ 19…Nd5 (19…Qxd6 20. Nf7+ wins the queen, or  19…cxd6 20.Nc6+ Kd7 21.Nxb8+ also captures the queen) 20.Nxc6+ Kd7 21.Nxb8+ Kxd6 22. Qa3+ c5 23. Bd2 white has a material advantage and a virulent attack.

The next position shows a classic over press in a drawn ending. White has just played his queen from b8 to b2. How did black punish this careless move?

Klaus-Bischoff-Mark-Quinn-Dun-Laoghaire-2010
Klaus Bischoff-Mark Quinn Dun Laoghaire 2010

Black used the power of his centralised steed to fork the queen with the knight 65…Re3+! 0-1 After 66.Qxe3 Nc4+ snares the lady, 66. Kd1 Re1+ also captures the queen, similarly 66.Kf1 Re1+ wins

Black has just played the active Rd2. How did white exploit this?

Michael Adams-John-Nunn-European-Internet-Blitz-2003
Michael Adams-John Nunn European Internet Blitz 2003

26. Rxe6! exploits the weak back rank. 1-0 as 26…Rxf2 27.Re8# & 26…fxe6 27.Qf8#

In this next position white baled out with a perpetual. How could white win with a beautiful geometrical sequence?

Ivan Saric-Vidmantas-Malisauskas-Novi-Sad-2009
Ivan Saric-Vidmantas Malisauskas Novi Sad 2009

47.Qd7+ Kg6 48.f5+ Qxf5 black’s queen blocks his own king 49.Qg7+ Kh5 50.g4+ Qxg4 once again the queen gets in the way 51.Qh7# Very pretty

The next section is by John Nunn who is a brilliant problem solver having won the world problem solving championship three times. I shall show a couple of beautiful studies from his chapter on Advanced Tactics, Endings And Studies.

White to play and win.

Arpad Rusz-The Problemist-2019
Arpad Rusz The Problemist 2019

1.Rc1+! The obvious 1.a8=Q+ loses to 1…Kg1 2.Rc1+ Qf1+! 3.Rxf1+ Kxf1 4.Qa6+ Kg1 5.Qg6+ Rg2 6.Qf6 otherwise the pawn queens 6…Rf2+ skewers the queen and wins

1…Qf1+!! (1…Kg2 2.a8=Q+ Qf3+ 3.Qxf3+ Kxf3 4.Rc3+  Ke2 5.Ra3 and white wins the rook ending) 2.Rxf1+ Kg2

Arpad Rusz-The Problemist 2020 Move 3
Arpad Rusz The Problemist 2019 Move 3

3.Rh1!! (Deflecting either the black king or rook to an inferior square, 3.a8=Q+ loses as above) 3…Kxh1 (3…Rxh1 4. a8=Q+ Kh2 5. Qh8+ followed by Qg8+ winning the dangerous black pawn and the game) 4.a8=Q+ Kg1 (4…Rg2 5.Qh8+ Kg1 6.a6 wins) 5.Qg8+ Rg2 6. Qh8 stopping the pawn and white wins

Here is another brilliant problem. I could not solve this one, but just sit back and enjoy!

Mario-Matous-Dresden-Olympiad-Touney-2008
Mario Matous Dresden Olympiad Tourney 2008
  1. e7 cxb1=Q 2. e8=Q Nf3+! (To give access to h7 for a black queen) 3. Nxf3 Qh7+ 4. Kg3 b1=Q Black seems to have everything under control with the two queens poised to kill
Mario-Matous-Dresden-Olympiad-Tourney-2009-Move-5
Mario Matous Dresden Olympiad Tourney 2009 Move 5

5.Qe4!! Putting white’s queen en prise and forking the two queens. Black cannot take the queen because of a deadly rook check. 5…Qg1+ (5…Qg7+ 6.Ng5+ Qxe4 7.Rd1+ mates) 6.Nxg1 Qxe4 7.Nf3 black has no decent check to avoid mate. 7…Qxf3+ 8.Kxf3 with an easy RvN winning ending as black’s king is stuck in the corner, separated from the knight, for example 8…Nb7 9.Rd7 Nc5 10.Rd5 Ne6 11.Kg3 mating.

Section three is by Graham Burgess. The Opening Themes chapter is an instructive set of puzzles based on tactical possibilities in the opening. The reviewer had not seen these exact positions before, but a lot of the themes are common ideas and traps in the opening.

Black has just played the active and provactive Nb4. How should white deal with the threat to the d-pawn?

Igor-Kovalenko-Axel-Bachmann-World-Blitz-Ch-Berlin-2015
Igor Kovalenko-Axel Bachmann World Blitz Ch Berlin 2015

9.c3! Nbxd5 10. e4 and the knight is lost. 9.e4 is also good based on the same idea.

A typical position from the Sicilian.  Black has just kicked the bishop with h6, before deciding how to complete his development. How does white cut across this plan?

Denis-Wiegner-Wolfgang-Trebing-Hamburg-Juniors-1994
Denis Wiegner-Wolfgang Trebing Hamburg Juniors 1994

10.Ndxb5! axb5 11.Nxb5 threatening Nd6#  d5 12.Bf4! targeting the weak d6 and c7 squares 12…e5 13.exd5 exf4 14.dxc6 Nxc6 15.Re1+ Be7 16.Nd6+ Kf8 17.Nxb7 winning a couple of pawns

Black has just left his d-pawn en prise. Can white take it?

Ian-Marshall-John-Henderson-Corr.-1993
Ian Marshall-John Henderson Corr. 1993

No. After 6.Nxd5?? Nxd5 7.Qxd5 c6! white cannot prevent Qa5+ picking up the bishop on g5. Strange error considering that this was a postal game!

This is a Modern Defence.  Black has just unmasked his fianchettoed bishop with Nfd7. White can refute this outright. How?

Wolfgang-Schaser-Hubertus-Hilchenbach-Corr.-2004
Wolfgang Schaser-Hubertus Hilchenbach Corr. 2004

10.Bxf7+ Kxf7 11.Ng5+ Kg8 12.Qf3 Nf6 13.Qb3+ wins, e.g. e6 14.Ncxe6 Qe7 15.0-0 Bxe6 16.Nxe6 Qf7 17.Nc7

Finally an old trap in the Slav Defence. White has just played 12.e4. What is black’s surprising reply?

Zdenko-Kozul-Miguel-Illescas-Erevan-Olympiad-1996
Zdenko Kozul-Miguel Illescas Erevan Olympiad 1996

12…Nc5!! 13.dxc5 dxe4 14.Qxd8 (14.Qe3 exf3 is bad for white as well) Rfxd8 white loses back the piece and will be a pawn down 15.Na4 (15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Be3 Nxc5 and 15.Be3 exf3 16.gxf3 Rd3 leave black in a superb position) 15…exf3 16.Rfd1 Rd3 with a huge plus.

Finally, I will show a complex king and pawn ending given by Wesley So. Black to play – how does he capitalise on his better pawn structure and better king?

Alexander-Grishchuk-Wesley-So-Leuven-rapid-2018
Alexander Grishchuk-Wesley-So Leuven rapid 2018

The first few moves are obvious 31…Kg6 32.Ke2 Kg5 33.Kf3 f5 34.gxf5

Now what should black play?

Buy the book to find out.

In summary, this is a superb puzzle book with a varied pot-pourri of problems such as opening traps, pure tactics, attacking ideas, defensive ideas, endings,  and studies with a varying  degree of difficulty to suit all standards. An excellent book for not just junior training but for players of all standards to hone their tactical skills.

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

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Hardcover :320 pages
  • Publisher:  Gambit Publications Ltd (16 Dec. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1911465651
  • ISBN-13:978-1911465652
  • Product Dimensions: 17.15 x 1.65 x 24.77 cm

This physical book is also available as an eBook and as an App book from Gambit.

 

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus, Adams, Nunn, Burgess, So, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1911465652
Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus, Adams, Nunn, Burgess, So, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1911465652
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