Endgame workout

Endgames are worth taking seriously - you can get extra points and
half-points by improving your endgame play.
Some endgames turn up rather often, certainly more often than some
of the odd bits of opening theory we end up looking at sometimes.

There are bits of theory to know, but as always the thing is to test
your understanding and practise.

The things you need to know are widely available, not least from our
website, so I won't trot through it all, just give some examples.

Endgame Theory: PRQNB

Here's a basic K+P endgame, where you should know enough to win it
for White.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2012.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "KP"]
[Black "K"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4k3/8/8/8/8/8/4P3/4K3 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "15"]


And here's a basic R+P endgame - same again.

[Event "rook ending: basic win (Lucena"]
[Site "rook ending: basic win (Lucen"]
[Date "1500.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "[t50"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2k5/8/4K3/4P3/8/8/3R4/5r2 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "25"]


There are a couple of essential positions for each type of ending: PRNBQ...

As you gain more experience, you can add to your range of 'solved' positions.

See also:

Endgame Tactics: PRQNB

Rooks and Queens lend themselves to tactical shots.  Here are a

[Event "Subotica"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1976.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Pihajlic"]
[Black "Ivanka"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/4k1PK/8/7Q/5q2/8/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "6"]

1. g7 Qe3+ 2. Kh7 Qd3+ 3. Kh8 Qc3 *

[Event "fics rated blitz game fics, Oklahoma Ci"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1997.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "DrDave"]
[Black "mrdim"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B21"]
[WhiteElo "1875"]
[BlackElo "1890"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "1997.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. f4 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e5 d4 5. exf6 dxc3 6. fxg7 cxd2+ 7. Qxd2 Bxg7
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Bc4 Rf8 10. Nf3 Bf5 11. c3 Nd7 12. Be3 Kc7 13. O-O-O Rad8 14.
Rd2 b6 15. h3 Bf6 16. Ng5 Bxg5 17. fxg5 Ne5 18. Bf4 Rxd2 19. Kxd2 Rd8+ 20. Ke2
f6 21. gxf6 exf6 22. Rf1 Be4 23. Bxe5+ fxe5 24. g4 Bg2 25. Rf7+ Rd7 26. h4 Rxf7
27. Bxf7 Kc6 28. g5 Bd5 29. Bxd5+ Kxd5 30. Ke3 e4 31. h5 Ke5 32. g6 hxg6 33.
hxg6 Kf6 34. Kxe4 Kxg6 35. Kd5 Kf6 36. Kc6 Ke7 37. Kb7 Kd6 38. Kxa7 Kc6 39. a4
b5 40. axb5+ Kxb5 41. b3 Ka5 42. Kb7 Kb5 43. Kc7 c4 44. b4 Ka4 45. Kc6 Kb3 46.
b5 Kxc3 47. b6 Kd2 48. b7 c3 49. b8=Q c2 50. Qb2 Kd3 51. Kd5 Kd2 52. Kd4 Kd1
53. Kd3 c1=Q 54. Qe2# {Black checkmated} 1-0

[Event "It"]
[Site "Groningen"]
[Date "1947.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Bernstein"]
[Black "Smyslov"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4R3/8/8/5k2/1p3p2/7r/4K3/8 b - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "7"]

1... b3 2. Rb8 b2 3. Rxb2 Rh2+ 4. Kf3 Rxb2 1/2-1/2

[Event "rook ending: 5-piece (lasker's"]
[Site "rook ending: 5-piece (lasker'"]
[Date "1890.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "KRP"]
[Black "KRP [t50"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2K5/2P4R/8/k7/8/8/2r4p/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "21"]

{ draw?} 1. Kb7 1... Rb2+ 2. Ka7 Rc2 3. Rh5+ Ka4 4. Kb6 Rb2+ 5. Ka6 Rc2 6.
Rh4+ {got the idea? we've gained another rank} 6... Ka3 7. Kb6 Rb2+ 8. Ka5 Rc2
9. Rh3+ 9... Ka2 {} 10. Rxh2 {!} 10... Rxh2 11. c8=Q 1-0

It's not easy to be as definitive about essential tactical knowledge; each peculiar position may harbour a new trick, or a new spin on an old one.

Endgame studies

These are pure tactics, always good for sharpening your awareness of tactical possibilities.

One of the most famous, and most instructive, is this one:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1896.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "W"]
[Black "B"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator "Saavedra"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/1KP5/3r4/8/8/8/k7 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "13"]

{} 1. c7 (1. Kb7 Rc5) 1... Rd6+ (1... Rd2 2. c8=Q Rb2+ 3. Ka5 Ra2+ 4. Kb4 Rb2+
5. Kc3) 2. Kb5 (2. Kb7 Rd7) (2. Kc5 Rd1 3. c8=Q (3. Kb5 Rc1 4. Kb6) 3... Rc1+)
2... Rd5+ 3. Kb4 (3. Kc6 Rd1 4. c8=Q Rc1+) 3... Rd4+ 4. Kb3 (4. Kb5 Rd5+) (4.
Kc5 Rd1 5. Kb6 Rc1) 4... Rd3+ 5. Kc2 (5. Ka4 Rc3) 5... Rd4 {} 6. c8=R (6. c8=Q
Rc4+ 7. Qxc4 {stalemate}) (6. Kc3 Rd1) 6... Ra4 (6... Rc4+ 7. Rxc4 Ka2 8. Ra4#)
7. Kb3 $18 {} 1-0


And another, showing the wonderful co-operation between Queen and Knight:

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "W"]
[Black "B"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator "Chekhover"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5K2/2Q5/6q1/8/3kN3/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "19"]

{} 1. Qc5+ Kd3 2. Qc3+ Ke2 3. Qd2+ Kf3 4. Qf2+ Kg4 5. Qg3+ Kf5 6. Nd6+ Kf6 7.
Ne8+ Kf5 8. Ng7+ Kf6 9. Qf4+ Qf5 10. Qxf5# 1-0

Endgame Strategy: PRQNB

There are some general endgame principles which you should know:

3 principles (Fine)

  1. Without pawns, you must be at least a Rook ahead in order to force mate (exceptions: R+R wins against two minor pieces; four minor pieces win against a Queen)
    If you are two or more Pawns ahead the win should be routine by advancing the Pawns
    With only one Pawn advantage, you will win if you can use it to gain more material - it is not usually enough just to advance the Pawn. Often one Pawn advantage is thought to be a theoretical draw, although the practical difficulties may be very great. Winning by the advance of the Pawn may be won because it allows entry with the King, or causes distraction from one vulnerable side, or allows simplification into a known won ending.

15 general laws (Fine again)

  1. Doubled, isolated and blockaded pawns are weak: avoid them!
    Passed pawns should be advanced as rapidly as possible.
    If you are one or two pawns ahead, exchange pieces but not pawns.
    If you are one or two pawns behind, exchange pawns but not pieces.
    If you have an advantage, leave pawns on both sides of the board.
    If you are just one pawn ahead, in 99 cases out of 100 the game is drawn if there are pawns on only one side of the board.
    The easiest endings to win are pure King+Pawn endings.
    The easiest endings to draw are those with opposite coloured bishops.
    The King is a strong piece: use it!
    Do not place pawns on the colour of your bishop.
    Bishops are better than knights in all except blocked pawn positions
    Two bishops vs. B&N or N&N are usually a real advantage.
    Passed pawns should not be blockaded by the king: the only piece which is not much harmed by watching over an opponent's pawn is the knight.
    A rook on the seventh rank is worth a pawn.
    Rooks belong behind passed pawns, of your own or the opponent.

See also:


[Event "an endgame principle: differen"]
[Site "an endgame principle: differe"]
[Date "1996.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Turnkey/Fritz 4"]
[Black "Hodgson, J (East Kilbride Op"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D10"]
[PlyCount "69"]

1. c4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 4... a6 {Keeping it solid, avoiding a
tactical free-for-all. Good strategy against a computer - or against Hodgson.}
5. Bd3 b5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Qb3 Nc6 8. Nf3 e6 9. Bd2 Na5 10. Qc2 Nc4 11. Rc1 Bb7
12. O-O Rc8 13. Rfd1 Bd6 14. b3 {
("Dare I say it? White's position is lacking any byte!")} 14... Nxd2 15. Qxd2
O-O 16. Ne2 Ne4 17. Qe1 Qe7 18. a4 Bb4 19. Qf1 {
("A sure sign that all is not well in RAM-land")} 19... bxa4 20. bxa4 a5 21.
Rxc8 Rxc8 22. Rc1 f6 23. Rxc8+ Bxc8 24. Qb1 24... Bd7 {} 25. Bxe4 $2 {
"Astonishing... the computer places a higher value on centre Pawns than
outside Pawns"- fine advice for themiddle-game!} 25... dxe4 26. Qxe4 Bxa4 27.
Nf4 27... Be8 $1 {} 28. Nxe6 a4 29. Qd5 Qd7 30. Qc4 Qb5 31. Qc2 a3 32. Qa2 Bf7
33. d5 Qd3 34. g3 Bg6 35. d6 {} (35. d6 35... Bxd6 $1 36. Nf4+ Bf7 37. Qxf7+
Kxf7 38. Nxd3 a2) 0-1

[Event "a rook ending: two weaknesses"]
[Site "a rook ending: two weaknesses"]
[Date "1975.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Hug"]
[Black "Barle (Pula izt)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C50"]
[PlyCount "101"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bg5 Na5 7. Bb3 Nxb3 8.
axb3 Be6 9. Na4 {} 9... h6 (9... Bb6 10. Nxb6 10... axb6 {
or 10...cxb6; 11.d4! with a superior pawn structure} 11. Rxa8 Qxa8 12. Bxf6
gxf6 13. Nh4 {Pritchett}) 10. Bh4 Bg4 (10... g5 11. Bg3 Nd7 12. Nxc5 Nxc5 13.
b4 Nd7 14. d4) 11. Nxc5 dxc5 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Qd6 14. Bxf6 Qxf6 15. Qxf6
15... gxf6 { Here we have the doubled f-pawns again. White can start an
immediate attack on them with O-O and f2-f4} 16. Ra5 $1 {accurate: forces a
permanent weakness on a7. Black must divert his King to the Q-side when a
shift to the f-file catches him wrong-footed. Black is probably already lost.}
(16. O-O Ke7 17. f4 h5 18. Rf2 Rh7 19. Raf1 {
and Black can defend the one weakness on the f-file.}) 16... b6 17. Ra6 Kd7 18.
O-O 18... Kc6 {} 19. f4 Kb7 20. Raa1 Rh7 21. fxe5 fxe5 22. Rf6 {
White now wins a pawn while Black struggles for counterplay.} 22... a5 23. Rf5
Re8 24. Raf1 Re7 25. Rh5 Re6 26. Rhf5 Re7 27. g4 Kc6 28. Rf6+ Kb5 29. R1f5 a4
30. bxa4+ Kxa4 31. Rh5 c4 32. dxc4 Kb4 33. Rhxh6 Rxh6 34. Rxh6 Rd7 35. Rf6 Kxc4
36. Kf2 Rd2+ 37. Ke3 {} 37... Rh2 (37... Rxc2 {doesn't help, e.g.} 38. Rxf7 c5
39. Rf2 Rxf2 40. Kxf2 Kb3) 38. Rc6+ Kb5 39. Rxc7 Rxh3+ 40. Kf2 Rh2+ 41. Kg3 Re2
42. Kf3 Re1 43. Re7 f6 44. g5 fxg5 45. Rxe5+ Kc4 46. Rxg5 Rf1+ 47. Ke2 Rb1 48.
b3+ Kc3 49. Rb5 Rc1 50. Rxb6 Rxc2+ 51. Ke3 1-0

With this under your belt, you should then work your way through
these examples:


Endgame Training: PRQNB

If you've got a computer or a chess-playing friend, then make use of
the opportunity.  I've just been working with an A-level
student who spent a lot of her time 'revising', ie. reading and
making notes, without seeing if she could get any of that
information out in the right format ie. doing past exam.
questions.  You must combine the two.

Your best single resource is the Iceland Endgame Challenge, which I
can offer you in PGN/CBV formats as well as a worksheet.  Don't
agonise over the mate with B+N!

Everything in one book:
Yuri Averbakh, Chess Endgames: Essential Knowledge
Glenn Flear, Improve your Endgame Play *
Glenn Flear, Mastering the Endgame  *
Steve Giddins, 101 Endgame Tips
Ian Snape, Chess Endings Made Simple *
Paul Keres, Practical Chess Endings

Endgame theory:
[br style="font-weight: bold;"]
Iceland Endgame Challenge *
Bruce Pandolfini, Pandolfini's Endgame Course *
Jeremy Silman, Silman's Complete Endgame Course *
Jonathan Speelman et al. Batsford Chess Endgames
Mark Dvoretzky, Dvoretzky's Endgame Manual (also a ChessBase CD)
Karsten Mueller Chess Endgames 1: Basic Knowledge for Beginners (DVD)

Endgame tactics:
Irving Chernev, Practical Chess Endgames *
AA Troitzky, 360 Brilliant and instructive endgames *
John Nunn, Tactical Chess Endings*
GC van Perlo, Endgame Tactics
Endgame strategy:
MI Shereshevsky, Endgame Strategy
Endgame training:
Iceland Endgame Challenge: Bronze, Silver, Gold *
Bernd Rosen, Chess Endgame Training *

  • Additional positions for playing out:

Irving Chernev, Capablanca's 60 Best Chess Endgames
Vasily Smyslov, Endgame Virtuoso
Karolyi & Alpin, Endgame Virtuoso: Anatoly Karpov
Giddins, Greatest Ever Chess Endgames

* including test exercises

How to play out exercises against a computer

1. Set 'play against Fritz' (ALT_A).
2. Set up a position (S)
3. Go!


1. Load a position from a database.
2. Click 'Move Now' (SPACEBAR)

I think this works in Fritz 5.32 and Fritz 11, although my copy of 5.32 is NBG at the moment.

export1.pgn7 KB
iceland.pgn10.97 KB

Chess Quotes

"Have you ever seen a chess article without a brilliant example of the author's own play? 'Silly question,' you will say. Quite."
— Razuvayev, introducing Razuvayev-Bagirov 1982