Thursday, June 09, 2005

A bright future ogles.

In my chessclub we have three guys who are known as "endgame specialist". (ratings 2084, 1894 and 1803 resp.)
I had an interview with those guys and they all said the same:
  • They are gaining most of their points in the endgame.
  • They don't have studied endgames and know little about it.

This is remarkable.
They seem to have a natural intuition how to play the endgame.
I have not.

This reminds me of the same phenomenon in the middlegame.
Certain guys seem to play the middlegame easy. They use little time. Someway their pieces seem to land always on the best squares. Their play beams harmony.
I don't have this quality. If I do a move without thinking it's always a bad one.
Usually I don't have problems to beat those natural talents, because you have to trap them one move further than they are used to think. There always comes a moment they loose their patience and move too fast. Especially if I have made the position unharmonic on purpose.

In the endgame you have to see patterns on an empty board.
If you realize that a King on h4 has 141 ways to go in 6 moves to b4, it is not strange at all that you choose the wrong path most of the time.
So you have to familiarise yourself with these invisible patterns.

What we can say about our so called "endgame specialists" is: in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

Reading the chessforums about chess endings, a deja vu comes up.
A lot of talk about the necessity of studying endings and discussion about the best way to do so, but nobody seems to work. I experienced the same earlier with studying tactics.

And that is very understandable!
Because if I now study a new opening, then the chance that I will reap the fruits of it next tournament, or at least get it on the board, is almost 100%.
But to reap the fruits of endgame study will almost certainly cost you half a year to a year.
Besides this, pawn endings are looked down upon. One thinks that just calculation should do the job. But today I did 14 endgame exercises from chapter 1. One costed me 2 hours, another 0.5 hour. Mind you, we are talking about problems with 2 kings and only 2 pawns! The one that costed me 2 hours was misplayed by a grandmaster. The other problems were easy.
So few guys will have the stamina to really dig in this subject I assume.
But it's only logic that without a thorough knowledge of pawn endings the study of rook endings, or minor piece endings can't be very deep.

And it is logic that I have to obey. That is what me has driven to the DLM-program in the first place. And since I have to learn endings anyway, now may be the best moment.
I am halfway chapter two and learning every minute.


  1. Many happy endgames, Tempo! I hope you will get them, I think your tactics will help you to get through middlegame safely. The fascinating thing about endgames for me is that you must foresee dozens of moves in a general way, without calculation. Such as I encountered yesterday when replaying a Karpov game. Karpov had Bishop and Pawn, his opp had Knight and Pawn. Karpov gave his last pawn away and then draw was agreed. I first shook my head. Why did he do that? Then I understood: The opp Pawn, by taking Karpov's, landed on a file where the bishop controlled the promoting square. This diminished the value of the remaining Pawn to zero. Nice trick! These things you never come across in puzzles, so it is important to replay lots of master games. That's what I plan to do after my life in the Seven Circles.

  2. Thanks for the welcome to the Knights Errant ... still think I've got a long journey ahead of me though!