? Mikhail Baturyn Chess - Solid Knowledge of Endgames
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Solid Knowledge of Endgames

Once a chess student builds tactical skills (knowledge of common tactical patterns and ability to calculate variations), he or she should start studying chess strategy and basic endgames.

In the past, a player could do pretty well without solid knowledge of endgames because many tournaments had an adjournment rule.  For example, it was common to stop a chess game in high-ranking competitions after 40 or 60 moves and continue to play the same game next day.  Both players had a chance to analyze an adjourned game and study resulting openings.  So, even if players didn’t know something, they could easily close the knowledge gap by looking up related theoretical endgames.

However, at the present time, chess games almost never adjourn because of a widespread availability of powerful chess programs that could easily analyze most endgame positions.  So, chess players have no choice.  To perform well at tournaments, they must have solid knowledge of common endgames.

Firm knowledge of endgames is important because of two main reasons.  First, on higher levels, many chess games are actually decided in endgames.  A player who has a better knowledge of endgame principles might be able to win many equal positions or draw a good number of slightly worse positions.  Second, many chess openings and middle game plans have a goal of receiving a certain advantage in possible endgames.  A player who understands the connection between the stages of chess game usually has a big practical advantage because he or she can steer the game to advantageous endgame structures.

To become proficient in endgames, it is necessary to carefully study typical endgame plans and certain theoretical positions.  The more typical endgame plans and key endgame positions a player knows, the better his or her practical results will be.

At the beginning, a student should concentrate on studying pawn endgames and rook endgames.  Pawn endgames are a basis for all other endgames because any other endgames might be transformed to pawn endgames.  Rook endgames are the most common endgames.  Roughly 50 percent of all endgames in practice are rook endgames.

Once a student has a firm grasp of pawn and rook endings, he or she should proceed to studying other typical endgames such as bishop endgames, knight endgames, bishop against knight endgames, queen endgames, etc.

I use the narrowing approach to help my students build solid endgame knowledge.  During the course of my coaching work, I developed the endgame learning system that consists of the key endgame plans and key theoretical positions.  All positions and plans were selected based on a probability principle.  If there is a good chance that a player can use a certain endgame plan repeatedly, such a plan is in my collection.  If a certain endgame plan is not likely to be used, it is not in the collection.  Many of my students used this endgame learning system and most appreciated the targeted approach – studying only the plans and positions that are likely to be used in tournament practice.


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