Most club players spend far too little time studying chess endgames. They are not familiar with essential theoretical endgames, nor do they focus on developing good endgame understanding and technique.
However, decent endgame skills are vital for any aspiring chess player. They can enable you to easily win apparently equal positions with only a little imbalance or save half a point from clearly worse positions.
US Women’s Chess Champion IM Nazi Paikidze is here with a brand new course that teaches the key endgame principles, how to master imbalances, how to transition to a favorable endgame and much more. IM Paikidze teaches you valuable endgame ideas and principles that will serve you well for years to come.
First of all, it’s a key skill to evaluate endgames correctly. After an exchange of pieces in the endgame, you need to reevaluate the position. Stay objective in assessing the position. If you constantly overestimate your position, for example, things will likely end terribly.
Chess endgames principles are fundamentally different from middlegames and openings. Therefore, you need some special criteria with which to evaluate endgame positions.
General Chess Endgame Principles
The concept of piece activity is extremely important in any endgame. Try to aim for an active setup of your pieces and avoid passive positions. Even at the cost of a little bit of material, this can greatly improve your position and help you to win games that may not have seemed winnable at first.
The material is often not as relevant as the initiative in endgames. It’s key to understand: while comparing your pieces with your opponent’s pieces, you must not only evaluate which piece is better placed at the moment but also which piece has more potential.
You also need to assess the position of the kings. Centralization of the king is one of the main principles of chess endgame play. Generally speaking, the changing role of the king is one of the most important characteristics that separates endgames from middlegames and openings.
In the middlegame, we’ve got a protective mentality about the king. In the endgame, however, an active king can protect weaknesses, control important squares and target weak pawns, so that more valuable pieces like rooks can be more actively placed and don’t have to fulfill defensive tasks. As a rule of thumb, the king is usually considered to be worth 4 points in the endgame.
Pawn structures play a crucial role in the endgame. You need to compare your pawn structure with your opponent’s pawn structure.
Does your opponent have any weak pawns or weak squares? Identifying weaknesses usually determines your strategy. If your opponent does not have any weaknesses already, you need to try to create some.
Let’s see the position on the left. It occurred in a game between Kramnik and Harikrishna. Who is better and why? In order to make the correct decisions in the endgame, you need to evaluate the position.
White has an advantage in this position. His rooks are slightly better placed and his dark-squared bishop on b2 is better than its counterpart on e7.
Moreover, Black’s pawn structure is worse. Not only can the pawn on f5 become a target, but also the squares e6 and g6 behind the pawn are weakened. With brilliant technique, Kramnik managed to convert his small advantage into a full point.
It is also important to always look at the whole board while you’re regrouping and improving your pieces. Do not only focus on the area of the board where the action takes place. See the position on the right.
In this position, Black had intentions to mate White’s king on the kingside. With White’s king on h2 and Black’s bishop still on d4, bringing the rook to the h-file was a serious threat.
However, White managed to drive Black’s bishop away from d4 and brought his king to g1. Now, Black should give up his intentions to mate White’s king on the kingside and switch plans by using the whole board.
The rook from f8 can not only be brought to h8 but also be transferred to the a8-square on the queenside. From there, the rook can go to the second rank. 1…Ra8 – White has no defense against this plan.
Be sure to watch the video for more endgame tips from the 2018 US Women’s Chess Champion!
Endgame Memorization Shortcuts
In this 6 hour course, 2018 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion IM Nazi Paikidze (peak rating 2455 Elo) trains you in the skills needed for success in the endgame.
Instead of theoretical positions, this course focuses entirely on the type of positions you’re actually likely to encounter in real games.