When hearing about a chess novelty our minds automatically translate it to an opening novelty. But there are endgame novelties as well! I was genuinely surprised to read an article about Ivanchuk’s endgame novelty: it was a whole new, fresh plan in an old endgame. I was familiar with the typical plans and ideas in that endgame from Dvoretsky’s books, but Ivanchuk’s idea was a true novelty-- worth the equivalent of 10 opening novelties. Some speculate that he had never read Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual and was not familiar with the analysis of the position and had to come up with his own plan over the board. But knowing the level of Ivanchuk’s play, his erudition and phenomenal memory, I am pretty sure that he had read the manual. Ivanchuk’s new plan is more promising than the traditional passive defense that was commonly used in this endgame. He created an endgame masterpiece, which will enter all the endgame manuals. Check it out yourself.
This column on Endgames will go on for at least three months. This is enough time to learn all the possible 6 piece endgames, generated by the Nalimov Tables, by heart. Each article will feature one hundred positions with deep analysis that you have to memorize. By the end of this memory-stretching boot camp, you should be prepared to be woken up in the night and shout the best line for any given endgame position.
I hope you did not take me seriously here and that you are still reading this. The column on endgames is designed for you (and me) to understand them better, and here I would like to outline the scope of the column and the methods to be used. The positions presented here will be by no means simple. There will not be a clear-cut single solution, but rather multiple plausible possibilities. We will start from rook endgames because they are the most frequent in practical play and move to bishop, pawn, queen, knight and material imbalance endgames.
Every week I will present a position or two, which I will play out with a sparring partner. The positions will be chosen from the Endgame section of Informants or from some recently played games. I will play a couple of games (as white and as black) starting from that very same position until I get a good feel of the play there. Once we have played a couple games, I will discuss the ideas with my sparring partner. The time control can be 30 minutes or more per player – it depends on the complexity of the exercise. After we are done I will publish the games with the analysis. It will be interesting to see how much one can figure out from the first try of play.
It is strongly encouraged for you to try the same exercise as I do with these positions too. Playing out endgames and only then analyzing them will make you feel them more, remember more ideas and practical solutions. Reading passively or listening to videos will not make you learn as much as when you play out the position yourself. Thus, it is important to try your hand at the positions given here every week. Finally, to test yourself, once you think you know a particular position pretty well, put only 5 minutes on the clock, and try to play it correctly at blitz speed! I am really excited about this new studying method, and hope to see some serious improvements in my endgame play, and in yours! Also, be prepared to see some other stars from the chess.com staff as my sparring partners.
Here are the first two positions for our study: