How deep must your puzzle be?

 Since May 1st I experimented with tactical puzzles that are 3 moves deep (5 ply). That definitely worked. Somewhere in the summer, I decided to give 4 movers a go (7 ply). After a few months, my conclusion is, that that works too, but it is not as efficient as 3 movers.  So I'm working with those 3 movers again.

My picture of both the openings and the middlegame is pretty much complete, so I know exactly what to study positionally the coming years. The boundaries are clear:

  • Piece exchanges
  • Restriction of enemy pieces by pawns
  • Increase piece activity by pawn moves

CM Kabadayi is my guide here.

This means there will be one loose end the coming years: the endgame. I will study my five new openings and the related middlegames positionally, and do tactics on a daily basis. Since I don't want to divide my attention, energy and time too much, I accept that I will screw up a won endgame regularly. I consider that as a luxury problem.

For now.


  1. Before the endgame, the Gods have placed the middle game.
    Siegbert Tarrasch

    I recently learned (I hope!) that Zugzwang is the key factor in most endgames. There is a relatively small number of concepts that are essential for good endgame play, such as elementary checkmates with various piece combinations, centralization of the king, opposition (direct and distant), bypassing, "shouldering" off the enemy king, pawn promotion, Rooks behind pawns (offensively and defensively), and the two elementary Rook and pawn techniques of bridge-building (the Lucena position) and the Philidor position. There are also a few useful “specialties” such as the rule of the square, the Réti maneuver, the Trébuchet and how to win or draw a 3 vs 3 pawn ending with the pawns opposed on the same side and the kings far away.

    I’m sure others might have a different set of fundamentals, but those are what I use regularly.

    It doesn’t take very long to acquire more than a nodding acquaintance with these ideas. If you’re already conversant with these ideas and techniques, I don’t think you have much to worry about for the interim.

  2. I’m not attempting to dissuade or sidetrack you from your stated goals, BUT. . .

    FWIW: I've found Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner to Master by IM Jeremy Silman to be the ideal "minimalist" approach to essential practical endgame knowledge. I think it's one of the best books he has written — and I have most of his books. It's staged by rating: you only need to learn up through (and maybe explore one class beyond) your current rating level to get real benefit from it. It's oriented toward practical players rather than being yet another endgame encyclopedia.

    I also have several endgame tomes, and the only other one that I’ve found to be close to practical is Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual by Dvoretsky, Müller, et al. Unfortunately, it’s at a much higher level than I currently play. Maybe some day. . .

  3. It was very exciting to discover this blog and read your last three posts. I am super excited to follow your chess progress during the upcoming years!

  4. Somehow I missed all comments from this post and later. Blogger does no longer notify me for some reason. I will try to fix that. Or at least read your comments. I'm somewhat versed in practical and theoretical endgames. All my books were burnt during the latest fire. I used to have 42 meter of bookshelves. But practical and theoretical endgames only form about 20% of the needed endgame knowledge. At most. The rest is endgame strategy.

    I have some digital books about that subject. And I estimate that it will take about 2 years to master them.


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