Endgames are notoriously tough, and it makes them even tougher if you spend your training trying to memorize positions that might occur only once or twice in your playing career!
Far better, then, to focus on the guiding principles that we can immediately start to implement in our own games, no matter what the position in the endgame. Just as there are general principles in the opening, such as developing your pieces, or trying to control the center squares, so too there are principles you can keep in mind during the final stages of play.
IM Mark Dvoretsky was arguably the world’s best chess coach and was the trainer of many world-class players. Additionally, he was the author of such chess classics as “Positional Play” and the book every serious player needs: “Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.”
In this video, Mark Dvoretsky joined chess24’s GM Jan Gustafsson to discuss one of the crucial endgame principles: Cutting off the king.
This technique is one of the most important in chess. Both sides, whether looking for a draw or a win, need to know how to achieve this cutting off of the king. It’s one of those things you should train and drill until it becomes second nature. Mark and Jan look at practical examples from real games that demonstrate why it is so important and how it can make the difference between losing or winning the game – even if the opponent is up in material.
Cutting Off the King
Let’s take a look at the first position IM Mark Dvoretsky discusses with GM Jan Gustafsson in the video. It’s a highly educational position that really shows the concept of cutting off the king. You can see the position on the left.
In this case, the move 1…Rh3 cuts off the king from the top of the board. It’s such an important move that we can even go as far as to say this move immediately wins the game.
For example, 2. Kd5 is followed by 2…Rc3, and the White king can no longer play a part in stopping Black’s plans. Black will move the king up the board, the a-pawn closely behind, eventually promoting – and winning – the game.
This clearly shows how powerful cutting off the king can be. You can see the final position on the right.
Be sure to watch the full video for deeper commentary on this position, and several others from the endgame master Mark Dvoretsky.
Chess Endgames with Dvoretsky
Finding it tough to win in the endgame? You’re not alone!
Many players, especially at the club level, don’t spend nearly enough time studying the endgame,and throw loads of time into memorizing opening moves. Don’t be one of those players! Sure, openings are very important, but a good opening means nothing if you can’t convert it in the later stages of the game!
In the full course, Mark Dvoretsky tackles even more endgame principles such as having an active rook, when to sacrifice a pawn, ‘plus-equal’ mode, the Vancura position, and more. Dvoretsky teaches the crucial chess endgame principles you can apply in your own games, no matter the position, for better results. Click here to get instant access with 35% off.