Friday, August 04, 2006

Restarting endgames

Susan Polgar had a poll on her blog. She asked "Which part of your chess game needs the most work?" Much to my surprise I was the only one from fifteen who answered "endgames". There clearly is a mental barrier in people which makes them to neglect endgames. I stumbled for the umphteenth time over this barrier.

But today I restarted the study of endgames again. I use PCT, and I do only the endgame modules. I continue my work on CTS ofcourse, aiming at 200 problems a day.

CTS 56700 done
Avg rating 1580
Max rating 1616
PCT end mod-01


  1. Hi!

    How much of PCT (Personal Chess Trainer) have you done? Modules in Tactics? In Strategy?

    I'm going over the Tactics modules now, and am on unit 38 of the 1st module. It's interesting, but I'd like to hear more from someone who's had more experience with it.

    I've tried some of the Endgame units (none from Strategy yet), and it seems that preliminary study of Endgame theory is required.

  2. Hi NN,
    I have done Tac Mod 1 unit 1-18 and Str mod 1 unit 1-8.
    If you want somebody with more experience you should have a look at

    For endgames you need a good studybook first indeed. I used SOPE and FCE (see sidebar for abbrev.)

  3. Tempo,

    I really enjoyed your posts a while back about endgames. Your dissection of the Grigorevich compositions was fantastic! Actual understanding of what made the solution the only move. I also liked your diagrams of corresponding squares, I had never seen such a thing.

    You seemed to be a little disappointed in SOPE at the time of those posts. I thought you had judged the positions as not practical enough and the explanations not helpful for the regular player. But it seems you recommend SOPE in the end. Is that right and would you recommend FCE as well?

    Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts on these books and as always, your blog is terrific.

  4. Loomis,
    thx for the cheering.
    About the books (SOPE and FCE):
    They are, as all endgame books I have seen, didactically very bad. They have two main flaws: they mix exceptions and general positions without telling you (they don't realise it themselves), and they mix easy and complex problems without telling you. Which I experience as sadistic and a waste of time. So between the good there is simply too much bad which spills your time.

    But you probably will not find better books on the subject. I could write one, but since nobody is going to pay me for that I will not do that:)
    If you own FCE, there is no need for SOPE since FCE covers the essentials of SOPE.

    Be prepared that if you worked your way thru the books that you still are left empty handed. The KNOWLEDGE, which is essential, has to be translated to SKILL. Only then it will result in better play. That is what I'm trying to accomplish with PCT.

  5. dirk, hadnt heard from you in weeks. i know you get updated posts, but not sure if this gets missed in my short term flood of revisions...

    i miss being able to converse with you here or elsewhere, and hope all is well?

    my new post, today, is one id be sorrowfull if i thought youd missed it.

    id be very glad to hear from you again, and, of course, follow all your stuff.

    im working on 25,000. i average 100 to 150 a day but not 200, but oh so carefully!

    congrats on your great accomplishment, dk

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  7. thank you for your comment. take care and all the best in chess and with you too. dk

  8. Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual highlights the core material in blue so you can focus on what's really important. It's great reading, but somewhat challenging.

    I played a couple dozen blitz games, and it's not for me. At G/1, G/3, and G/5 opponents launch wild, unsound attacks to exhaust your clock. 2/12 is not so bad, but I think I'll stick to G/15 or G/20.

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  10. hello dirk. greetings from the pacific northwest. very, very tired this end, so CTS taken VERY temporary backseat, to ctArt 3.0. i found that missing latter for a week, after lots of OBP led to some weakening of my skills, so im shifting contexts short term--plus running at night, so only so many watts to burn, only so much 'juice'.

    i just looked up PCT and of course had to go back to you excellent post from, was it, 30march06. this looks interesting. i followed the link.

    a. how much of it is chess endings? i yearn for a software trainer for this. it seems to mix middlegame postional stuff with tactics and also endings.

    b. overall, how much do you like this program?

    c. annectdotally, what if any have you heard how it compares to CTS, and more particularly, ctArt 3,0? how did you discover it, or who told you what, etc?

    d. what do you like about it?

    e. what do you not like? what is missing?

    f. i saw the russian girl tonight again, very nice. to her, men who play chess are above average and creative. for me, to meet a woman from europe as an american is a dream come true. we shall see.

    hope this day finds you well. fall is coming soon, and days grow suddenly shorter, but no ice on the mountains will grow here till 07october at altitude, so we have a ways to go yet to 'slam a lid on climbing'. dk

  11. Hi David.
    a.4320 tactical exercises, 720 strategie and 1440 endgames exercises.

    b.On a scale of 1-10 (10=excellent)I would consider it an 8.

    c.CTS presents you the most simple problems, but the ones you ABSOLUTELY have to know a tempo.
    PCT builds up very slowly from simple to complexer problems. MUCH slower than CT-art. Which I think is a good thing.
    The higher levels of CT-art concentrate on calculation in stead of pattern recognition.

    d.I like the interface. I like the quality of the problems. I like the level of the problems. I like the automatic repetition of problems and the system keeping track of it. I like the fact you can make as many users as you like.

    e.I miss the short time constraints of CTS. The tactics so far are excellent, the solutions of the strategy exercises seem to be more subject for discussion. Although that might be the reason why I'm not a grandmaster:).
    For endgames you have to get a theoretical base first from other sources like SOPE and FCE. Without that, the problems are simply undoable.

    Overall it is my second choice after CTS.