Chess Endgame Technique, Part 2: A Playing Method

In Part 1 I gave some guidelines that will improve your endgame play. Following these do’s and don’ts will markedly increase your success in the final phase of chess.

Now, in Part 2, I want to help you find better moves and improve your technique by giving you a concrete recipe.

 

Two Main Plans

chess pawn
Image credit: 123rf.com

There are two main plans to play for a win in the endgame…or even to play for a draw if you are worse. Depending on the position, one or both may apply:

1. Create and promote your passed pawns.

2. Attack your opponent’s weak pawns.

 

In the fantastic Turning Advantage into Victory in Chessauthor Andy Soltis gives the following win by Garry Kasparov in his final Olympiad. I’ve annotated the game myself here — in particular, pay attention to the position after White’s 26th move.

Note: Clicking on moves will bring up a diagram so you can follow the game!

 

Kasparov played the middlegame brilliantly, but once the smoke cleared the win was easy: White’s queenside pawns could run freely, while the Black kingside pawns were significantly slowed by White’s f- and h-pawns serving as roadblocks.

 

Here’s an example of great endgame technique by Viktor Kortschnoj; he wins a pawn then realizes it in a R+B vs. R+N ending.

 

Here is a great example of strong endgame technique from current World Champion Magnus Carlsen, instructive in its simplicity, that shows the long-range power of rooks and bishops:

Even in the endgame, pawns are the soul of chess! It’s amazing how the seemingly mysterious topic of endgame technique is less intimidating once a player has a compass to guide their moves!

Problem Chess

problem chess: aRt and magic on the chessboard

problem chess

Author: Göran Forslund
111 pages. Gambit Publications, 2022
Get it on Amazon!

Note: I may receive a commission on products purchased through Amazon links on this page. Thanks for your support!

I was sent a copy of this book by Gambit for my honest review.

 

The publisher tells us this book was originally published in Swedish, and then in electronic editions in 2014-15. Its author Göran Forslund passed away in 2015 and this is the first English print version of his book.

 

Problems vs. Studies

Simply put, a study is a composition whose position could arise in a real game. The pieces move and capture in exactly the same manner as in orthodox chess, even if the solution may be surprising or counter-intuitive.

problem, however, is a composition that is unlikely to resemble a real game. Some problems stipulate rules that differ from orthodox chess, e.g. pieces that do not move according to the Laws of Chess.

 

A Useful Reference

Forslund provides helpful breakdown of problem categories and types for the inexperienced (of which I’m surely a part). There are orthodox, semi-orthodox, and fairy chess problems.

Orthodox problems contain those with standard piece movements, rules, and goals (both sides are aiming for their maximum result).

The semi-orthodox category includes things like helpmates (both sides cooperate to checkmate black), and selfmates (both sides conspire to checkmate white).

Fairy chess contains the weird stuff that exists in its own orbit!

A nice touch is Forslund’s evolution in his appreciation of what a “good” chess problem is, and a discussion of those created for the solver versus those created for the composer’s peers!

Also included are sample problems from as far back as Samuel Loyd in the 19th century, up to contemporary compositions. The author includes many of his own works, and those of other Swedes.

 

Who Should Buy It?

I must say I never would have taken a serious look at a book about problem chess had it not been sent to me for review — as I often say, I have enough trouble with “regular” chess!

I had a bit of an introduction to problems in the late 1990s as a member of the Bronx/Yonkers Chess Club (now the Bob Peretz Chess Club, after its late Treasurer whom I knew personally).

Longtime member Paul Birnbaum was a great resource for me as a developing chess player…and he was also a U.S. Solving Expert. Later, he would become a U.S. Solving Master.

Paul described some of his exploits in Chess Life’s Key Crackers column, and introduced me to the terms fairy chess and maximummer, for example.

I just found the problem chess genre too difficult and time-consuming… anyway, I had my sights set on becoming a grandmaster! Oh well…

Chess compositions contain a lot of beauty for players who don’t simply like moving pieces; they also enjoy the artistic side of the game. Players who outside of the 64 squares tend to be more creative in their life and work.

As a scholastic chess teacher it makes me think of the students I’ve had over the years who weren’t content to simply memorize “surefire recipes” to win games, and wanted to create something special.

Some players don’t mind trotting out the London System 100 times in a row if it brings good results; others enjoy entering a world of endless fantasy and imagination when they play The Royal Game.

Those in the latter category should give Problem Chess a look!

 

The Verdict

Problem Chess: Art and Magic on the Chessboard is definitely a niche title; the Publisher’s Note at the beginning of the volume basically cites this as the reason it took so long to issue an English print edition (they must have been asking: “will it sell?”).

Well, it’s not the first such chess book, and it won’t be the last. One of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read is Persona Non Grata Viktor Kortschnoj‘s account of the 1978 World Championship Match.

I suspect Forslund’s brief treatise will be a go-to for problem enthusiasts for a long time to come. There’s certainly value in that.

2022 New York Fall Invitationals

The 2022 New York Fall Invitationals were held at the Aloft Long Island City — Manhattan View hotel from November 9-13, organized by IO Keith Espinosa and IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy.

Aloft Long Island City
The playing venue, Aloft Long Island City—Manhattan View. Photo: TripAdvisor

There were five sections in this edition: GM A, GM B, IM C, IM D and NM E. GM and IM norms were available in the A and B sections, while only IM norms were on offer in C and D. The E group was a six-player round robin for experts and masters.

Overall, the five sections had players from no less than 20 different nations competing!

National Arbiter Karl Heck came up all the way from Virginia to offer invaluable assistance to me in this event, and he earned a well-deserved 2nd FIDE Arbiter norm. I soon expect him to complete a similar journey to my own.

 

Results

GM A

Top-seed GM Robby Kevlishvili (NED) finished in a first-place tie with IM Kassa Korley (DEN) and GM Titas Stremavicius (LTU) on 5½ points out of 9. Players needed 6½ points to score a GM norm.

The only non-GM/IM in the section, FM Nico Chasin (USA), earned his 4th IM norm with 5 points out of 9. As he has already cleared the FIDE 2400 barrier (indeed, his live rating is 2441) he should officially become an International Master soon.

 

GM B

GMs Mark Paragua (PHI) and Djurabek Khamrakulov (UZB) shared first place with 6 points out of 9. 7 points were required for a GM norm.

FM Tanitoluwa Adewumi (USA) earned his 3rd IM norm with 5½ points. He needs to cross 2400, and may need a norm from a Swiss tournament considering the new FIDE rule 1.5.6, but this is unclear to me.

 

IM C

In a tightly-bunched group, FM Nasyr Akylbekov (KGZ) finished in a first-place tie with IM Nikolay Andrianov (RUS) and GM David Berczes (HUN). Each scored 5½ points out of 9.

No norms were earned in this section; 7 points were needed for an IM norm, while FM/WIM Gabriela Antova (BUL) could have earned a WGM norm with 6½ points.

 

IM D

IM Kyron Griffith (USA) emerged victorious in this group, tallying 7 points out of 9. IM Mykola Bortnyk (UKR) finished in 2nd place with 6½ points.

The IM norm was 7 points, and none of the seekers got within shouting distance. I will note that Zachary Tanenbaum had his second consecutive strong showing at our tournament, scoring 5 points while being one of the lowest-rated players.

 

NM E

Ankit Raparthi (USA) won clear first place and $800 with 4 points out of 5. Eugene Yoo (USA) finished second with 3½ points, earning $400.

Alex has considered running more sections of this type in the future; any experts or masters out there interested should contact him: nycchessnorms@gmail.com.

 

More Info

You can find more information on the event website. Results, standings, and downloadable games can be found on Chess Results.

 

Coming Up Next

From January 12-16, we will hold the 2023 New York Winter Invitationals in midtown Manhattan. There will be four groups: GM A, GM B, IM C, and IM D.

I will be assisted by a rising star in the TD/arbiter ranks, NA Sunny Yang. I can accept more assistants and offer norms (NAs are unpaid, FAs/IAs may be paid); just contact me.