Most beginners are afraid of endgames. Rather than afraid, they are mostly clueless about endgames.
If you misplay the opening you get a chance in the middle game, if you make mistakes in the middle game, you can make a comeback in the endgame, but if you mess up in an endgame, it’s almost over!
So now I present a few ideas on how you can improve your endgame.
Endgame contains a lot of theoretical knowledge and it is better that you use books to study these lessons on your own. Books and endgame are considered as one of the deadliest duos, very useful and effective if you desperately need sleep. But this is a practice which you cannot avoid like a leg day in your gym.
Start with some basic theoretical books like 100 endgames you must know, or Silman’s endgame course. These books will boost your endgame knowledge. Also, these books will help you learn precise techniques and theoretical positions with the fixed outcomes given precise play from both sides.
Also one must not hurry in completing these books as it is not a novel to be finished as soon as possible. The lessons are tough to digest. One must also solve the exercises religiously.
Books like Endgame strategy are based on planning in the endgame and also consist of positions from actual games. Here the author focuses more on planning and practicing positions that frequently occur in endgames. I personally like this book as it has topics like Double Bishop advantage, Endgame with 3 vs 2 on the queenside, etc.
Analyzing master-level games
Grandmasters have worked really hard on their techniques. Whenever we see a Grandmaster play and once he gets an advantage in the endgame, you can count on him to win the game. I remember at my initial stages in chess, my coach used to show me endgames with precise technique and I used to get fascinated by the GMs.
Once you try your hand at these books, get one of your friends who has a good feel for endgames, He can be your practice partner. You can set up positions that are useful to improve your technique such as Rook + Bishop vs Rook. So if you are able to draw that position with correct play, only then you can say your technique is good.
Now start playing practical positions, for example, while analyzing a game, once you enter an endgame, you can set a clock and decided on colors and start playing. This can be very useful as you can check again with the book of how the players continued in the game. This day in day out process will ensure you fulfill your progress in endgames.
Analyzing your games with strong players
Strong players generally have a feel of what can go wrong in an endgame. So they easily figure out what can be done and what needs to be prevented. These players also ensure that they will point out your mistakes with ease. They also keep a track of patterns and various tactics if any in your endgames. Like if you are not able to convert double bishop advantage.
So these were my suggestions on how to improve endgames in some simple steps. As they say, it is easy to start but it is difficult to maintain consistency, one must have the habit of day in day out practice for his goal. Looking forward to reading your feedback in the comments section.
Endgames are very important to study first before we study the openings as they have a fixed outcome compare to the openings and could have a decisive change to the whole course of the game. Some of the important points I have summarised below.
- Endgames contain positions that have a fixed outcome if both sides play precisely. Let’s say Queen+King v/s King. The pattern to checkmate is fixed and doesn’t require much effort to recall. The outcome is fixed that the player with extra material is going to win. But we should understand the technique.
- A lot of positions are theoretically drawn. Let’s say Rook 4 pawn vs Rook 3 pawn with all pawns on the same side. In this endgame, the defender has a precise technique to draw the game. But this doesn’t rule out the possibility of the attacker trying for a win.
- The concept of the fortress is unknown to a lot of players. The fortress is when the defender enters a position that looks materially winning, but is not actually winning. For eg. Two knights cannot checkmate a king, but also these two knights defend against a queen!
- In endgames, knowledge isn’t sufficient but it even requires the player to know its actual implementation. Knowing that Rook f and h pawn against Rook is a draw isn’t sufficient, you need to know the precise technique.