Monday, March 9, 2015


The last couple of weeks I've had some interesting endgames including holding an opposite coloured bishop endgame against IM James Morris, and a winning knight endgame that I managed to draw against an excellent defence by Malcolm Pyke. I suppose I can count the draw against James as a half point gained, while the draw versus Malcolm a fair result, so all told I'm doing ok. The endgame has always been the bane of most players any player who puts some effort into studying the endgame will reap the benefits.

One problem about studying the endgame is how to do it.It is possible to study from a book, but that can be a bit dry. Most text books have all the information needed, but present it in a way that is not easy to apply, starting from the most basic of endgames and working towards harder types of positions. However, most of us want to learn general endgame principals, and then look at more specific theoretical endgames after. Finding books that combine these 2 ideas, as well as presenting it to players of all levels is not easy. Some books pitch too high, while some are obviously aimed at those with a very good understanding of endgame principals.

I think for most club players, dabbling in endgames is the best way to start. To be honest, learning a lot of endgame theory that has little practical application in our games is about as useful as learning 30 moves of theory in an opening that will probably not show up in one's games. By dabbling, I mean that I don't see that the average club player needs to study endgames in a scientific way, but rather needs to build up knowledge at a rate that is appropriate to them. Learning a mass of rook and pawn endgame theory is not a bad thing to do, but forgetting it before you can put it into practice is not good.

The MCC runs an endgame group. I used to run this group, and now FM Bill Jordan is in charge. The idea is to look at some endgame each week, and perhaps to get positions that can be practised from. The practical part of the group is as important as the theoretical, and it was great to see players becoming aware of ideas, principals and techniques. I always really enjoyed the pawnless endgames, as the technique is usually fairly simple while the practice can be tough. For example, holding on in a position with a rook and king versus rook, bishop and king can be difficult.

Here's a couple of positions that the MCC Endgame Group might want to look at.

 1. This is the position that perhaps I should have won against Malcolm. Perhaps you can find a winning plan for black, or see if you can hold the position like Malcolm did.

2. Another knight endgame that ended in a draw. This one from one my favourite players, Alexander Beliavsky. Beliavsky as black held this position against English GM Jonathan Speelman at the 1989 Amsterdam OHRA tournament. I was lucky enough to be playing in a lower section of this tournament, so could see these great players in action, as well as Victor Korchnoi, and young versions of Judit Polgar and Boris Gelfand!

So, could you hold this position with the black pieces?

3. This position happened at the recently finished Ballarat Weekender, in the game Fasakin-Milojevic from round 6. It is white to move and mate in 57! Good luck :D

And while I'm on Ballarat, congratulation to IM Kanan Izzat on his 7/7 victory in this strong Victorian Weekender!

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