After hours of play against a tough opponent you finally reach an endgame. Your edge is slight and, in 20 moves time, the result will be known. Whether you win or draw depends on how you conduct those next 20 moves. IM Valeri Lilov is here to arm you with all the skills you need to squeeze every last half-point from your endgames with his new course, Practical Chess Endgames for Club Players.
The focus is entirely on the type of positions you encounter in real play. You will learn how to think in the endgame; how to make progress in tricky positions and how to coordinate your pieces like a master.
In this exclusive free preview, IM Valeri Lilov focuses on piece activity, a crucial part of the endgame. The concept of piece activity is extremely important in any practical endgame. Are
your opponent’s pieces tied to passive defense? Do you have open files or outposts for your pieces?
Valeri shows how piece activity trumps material in the endgame: Whenever you can, maximize the strength of your pieces and make them as active as possible – 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. Material is often not as relevant as the initiative in endgames.
Usually, it is not wise to give up valuable pieces for a single pawn in endgames. Pawn grabbing should be avoided because activity outweighs material in most endgames.
You should also make sure to let all your pieces participate in the endgame and improve all your pieces as much as you can. Don’t play with only half your army!
Valeri covers these points, and more, along with practical examples, in the video.
Practical Chess Endgames – Piece Activity
Even if the line between some late middlegames and endgames is often not clear, endgames are fundamentally different from middlegames and openings. Many guiding principles that are true for the opening or middlegame don’t apply in the endgame. The king, for example, needs to be well protected when there are many pieces on the board. Once you’ve reached an endgame, however, king activity becomes of paramount importance. The king can be brought to the center and act as an important attacking piece. What’s more, pawns become a lot more important in endgames because promotion is a key aim.
Centralization of the king is one of the main principles of endgame play. The changing role of the king is one of the most important characteristics which separates endgames from middlegames and openings. An active king can protect weaknesses and control important squares, allowing other pieces like the rooks to be more actively placed and not have to fulfil defensive tasks.
Let’s take the first study position from the video as an example of this. You can see the position on the left. It is Black’s move, but it looks very dangerous. White is ready to play Rd8#! Black needs to come up with a plan. The move …Rc1 looks natural, ready to move to c8 and block a check, but in fact this move loses! The correct move is …Kc8. Why?
It all comes down to piece activity. You don’t want passive pieces in the endgame. With …Kc8, the king becomes more active, while the rook is also useful where it is, keeping the knight pinned. Were Black to play …Rc1, White simply has Rd3 next and maintains the upper hand.
Practical Endgames For Club Players
Get the kind of confidence that comes from knowing you know how to deal with any situation, no matter how unusual. In the full course, IM Lilov teaches you everything you need to know to play endgames with confidence.
Here are some of things IM Lilov covers:
- Trading places. A win can turn into a loss with one seemingly equal trade. Learn how to glimpse potential futures and discover creative ways to win like Kramnik’s Rxc6! against Ivanchuk!
- Pieces before pawns. Pawn moves are permanent – you can’t move them back! Valeri explains how to place your pieces properly first so your pawns become an unstoppable force.
- Crowning the queen. Promotion is a major aim in the endgame and success here depends on the quality not the quantity of pawns. IM Lilov reveals a ton of sneaky – and difficult to stop – ways to get a new queen on the board.