Finding my way in the chessdevelopment- and training jungle in order to improve my rating.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Getting over my endgame phobia
. . . I'm going through a huge development lately. Due to my new openings and my new playing style I can enter an endgame almost at will. During my gambit years I reached an endgame once every 100 games or so. Before I entered an endgame in those gambit games usually one of the following happened: When I was better I had to offer a draw since I was in time trouble. When I was equal I offered a draw due to endgame phobia. When it was refused, I lost since I managed to screw up the balanced position soon.
This has dramatically changed. I don't have timetrouble anymore. My last 8 games were all endings. I'm not afraid for endings anymore. I'm not afraid anymore to refuse a draw in an equal position. I have a lot more energy during the games since I have to calculate less. Hansen's book has given me an idea what I'm after. Most lower rated players don't know this. So they cooparate happily towards their own demise. Lower rated usually choose one of the following strategies: They play a desparate all out attack. Usually with many leaks in their approach. They try to draw you by trading pieces on every occasion.
The first group usually don't cause many trouble and their approach leads to a short game. But now the second group is helping me by trading all pieces towards an endgame they think is drawn since they only count wood. Since short I know better and when most pieces are gone and they don't have something to guide their moves they start to make moves that look familiar to them because they are used to such moves in the middlegame but that are plain bad in an endgame.
The point I'm trying to make here is that with a little knowledge you can see the goal clearly miles ahead in an endgame so you can act as an architect and work backwards to design the moves that can get you there. You simply cannot find the same moves by trial and error of logical looking moves. You simply can't. Take for instance the following diagram of Kasparov vs Timman, Linares 92:
. . . White to move and win. You cannot find or understand the beautiful winning combination without some basic endgame knowledge. The first two moves of the combination will be rejected as illogical when you try to find them by trial and error so you will not look any further. Solution: [1.Ne8+ Kf7 2.Nxf6 Kxf6 3.g5+ Kf7 4.h6 and Timman resigned. The black king is now bound to the square of h6 pawn. The white king can now at an easy pace walk towards the queenside and convert the extra pawn into the win of the black bisshop. Then he walks back and picks up the black pawn at g6 and wins the game.]
Exactly this is what has happened to me lately. Not as beautiful as this example, of course, but according the same principle. Since I know what I'm looking for I can design the tactical combinations to get there, while opponents without such knowledge happily cooperate.
It has taken me a lot of effort to come here. I have been busy intensily with endgames for almost two years. The most of the time was spilled by following crappy advice. Advice which in itself is right but given at the wrong moment. You have to know where to start with endgames. It took me a lot of time to find the starting point, but now I have found it.
The starting point is endgame strategy. You first must have a clue where to head for. The one-eyed endgame kings around do grasp this essence immediately. Since it is simple and logical. Me, it took me two years since authors of endgame book sent me in wrong directions. But now we are on equal terms. Having found the starting point I can start. Finally.