Tag Archives: Endgame

Decision Making in Major Piece Endings

Decision Making In Major Piece Endings : Boris Gelfand

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

From the Publisher’s Foreword:

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

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

From the back cover:

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

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

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

Reaction to previous volumes in the series:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hodgson-Gelfand 1996
Hodgson-Gelfand 1996

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

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

Chapter 1  – The Importance of Analysis

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

Suetin-Portisch 1973
Suetin-Portisch 1973 (variation)

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

Chapter 2 Do Not Hurry

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

Giberto Hernandez Guerrero-Gelfand
Giberto Hernandez Guerrero-Gelfand

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

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

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

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

Chapter 3 – Three Surprisingly Complicated Rook Endgames

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

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

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

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

Gelfand-Kramnik Variation
Gelfand-Kramnik Variation

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

Chapter 4 Two Defensive Methods in Rook Endings

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

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

Botvinnik-Najdorf Moscow 1956
Botvinnik-Najdorf Moscow 1956

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

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

Capablanca-Yates Hastings 1930
Capablanca-Yates Hastings 1930

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piket-Kasparov Move 47
Piket-Kasparov Move 47

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

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

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

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

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

Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation
Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation

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

Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation2
Gelfand-Kasimdzhanov Variation2

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

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

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

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

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

The reviewer loves this endgame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 10 – Multiple Queens

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

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

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

After move 60
Two queens each

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

3 queens each

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

Stalemate

Chapter 11 – Full Circle

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

Botvinnik-Minev
Botvinnik-Minev

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

Botvinnik-Minev Move 60
Botvinnik-Minev Move 60

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

Chapter 12 – Conversion in the 4th Phase

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

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

Gelfand-Edouard
Gelfand-Edouard

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

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

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

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

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

Official web site of Quality Chess

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

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

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 Timothy 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
The Best of Bent, TG Whitworth
The Best of Bent, TG 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#.

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