Study Plan For Beginners: The Endgame!
Target Skill Range: Beginner (Rated 1000-1399)
Arrive at your final chess destination with the knowledge you need to win!
- Learn the essential principles of the endgame.
- Master the basic checkmates of the endgame.
- Learn the fundamentals of king and pawn endings.
- Test your king and pawn endgame knowledge.
- Improve your practical endgame skills.
- Use endgame technique in practice.
- Work through these endgame lessons.
- Test the quiz.
Despite its crucial role in helping players to evaluate during the middlegame, the endgame is often the most neglected area of an amateur's studies. Tragedy! You must not overlook this study plan! Below you will find the details to our recommended system for mastering a few of the most critical endgame ideas.
More than any other stage (opening or middlegame), the endgame requires the knowledge of technical positions. Endgame puzzles are very concrete or "black and white," with little scope for intuition. Because of this, practicing the endgame truly is hard work!
Most beginners find it boring to study positions without the fireworks created by many pieces, but although tactics are fun, that approach alone will leave you lost (or drawn) in endgame positions you could have drawn (or won!). Let's start slowly; we won't throw you into the deep end until you read the article and watch the video below:
- Read this: The Principles Of The Endgame—For Beginners!
- Watch this: Everything You Need to Know: The Endgame!
As mentioned in Task #1, we must have knowledge of many technical positions in order to play accurate endgames. Every beginner must master the "basic checkmates" before proceeding further. These aren't tactical patterns like a pin, nor are they mating nets such as a smothered mate; rather, these are proven technical patterns that should be applied after achieving a material advantage:
- Watch this: Fundamental Checkmates 1: Rook Roller and K+Qby FM Todd Andrews
- Read this: Inch by Inch, Row by Row by WIM Alexey Root
- Do this drill: Two Rook Checkmate
- Read this: Basic Checkmates: The Queen Dance! by Jessica Martin
- Do this drill: King and Queen Mate
- Watch this: The Big 3 - Important Winning Techniques by FM Elliot Liu
- Read this: Basic Checkmates: The King and Rook Mate! by Jessica Martin
- Do this drill: King and Rook Mate
- Read this: Basic Checkmates: Two Bishop Mate! by Jessica Martin
- Do this drill: Two Bishop Mate
- Do this drill: Bishop And Knight Mate: The Edge
For those who started with the "Beyond the Basics" Study Plan, some of the content above will be review. It isn't expected for a player of this level to fully comprehend the knight and bishop checkmate (covered at the end of FM Liu's "Big 3" video lecture); however, completing the final drill above should help instill the basic mating-net pattern associated with an otherwise very complex checkmate.
Every endgame—from the most advanced rook endings to the trickiest knight versus bishop battle—can potentially simplify into a king and pawn ending; therefore, the importance of mastering these technical positions cannot be underestimated. Our video library can help you achieve this goal:
- Pawn Endings 1 by FM Steven Zierk
- King and Pawn Endings: The Basics! by IM Daniel Rensch
- Pawn Endings 2 by FM Steven Zierk
- King and Pawn Endings: Stage 2 by IM Daniel Rensch
- Pawn Endings 3 by FM Steven Zierk
- King and Pawn Endings: Stage 3 by IM Daniel Rensch
As soon as possible after watching those videos, put your knowledge to the test in a practical setting! Though not all the exercises below directly relate to the lecture topics in the videos, the more practice on the general topic of king and pawn endings you can get, the better! Do the following drills to complete this task:
- King and Pawn Exercise #1
- King and Pawn Exercise #2
- King and Pawn Exercise #3
- King and Pawn Exercise #4
There are two ways to approach endgame studies: The first identifies a "technical list" of positions where you should just know the answer (like many of the king and pawn ending positions); and the second is more of a "practical look" into how grandmasters and other great players have approached certain types of endgame positions.
This duality (of technical and practical) will continue throughout the more advanced study plans. We now recommend you take the time to watch the videos below, seeing examples of practical endgame technique and patterns:
- Rook Endgames: Beginner to Master - Part 1 by IM Daniel Rensch
- Rook Endgames: Beginner to Master - Part 2 by IM Daniel Rensch
- Queen vs Pawns: The "Magic Square" Technique! by IM Danel Rensch
- Amazing Games for Beginners: Rubinstein's Endgame Brilliance by IM David Pruess
- Amazing Games for Beginners: Rubi's Smooth Rook by IM David Pruess
Having seen some examples of good endgame technique, it is time to apply technique for yourself in these "beginner level" positions. More drills are up next!
- Queen vs Rook with Pawns
- Queen vs Knight
- Queen vs Bishop
- Using Extra Bishop
- Using Extra Bishop #2
- Using Extra Knight
- Using Extra Knight #2
- Using Extra Rook
- Using Extra Rook #2
- Winning with an Extra Pawn
- Drawing -- King and Pawn Basics
- Drawing -- Rook and Pawn Ending Basics
- Drawing -- Rooks and Pawns
Use your acquired knowledge to work through the following lessons, completing the specific requirements for each, and shooting for an overall score of at least 70%:
- Complete this course up to puzzle 40:
Pawn Endings: Beginner to Expert by IM Eric Tangborn and FM Thomas Wolski
- Complete this course up to puzzle 9:
Do or Die with Rook Endings by IM John Watson
- Complete this course up to puzzle 4:
Bishop versus Knight (Part 1) by GM Dejan Bojkov
- Complete puzzles 1, 2, 4 and 5
Knight Endgames (Part 1) by GM Dejan Bojkov
This final section contains questions a player should be able to answer after completing this study plan! Good luck!
Question 1: If it were Black to move in the "Winning with an Extra Pawn" drill, would white still be winning?
Question 2: According to Jessica Martin's articles: In both the King and Queen Dance and the King and Rook Mate, what "distance" does the queen in the king and queen dance, and then the king in the king and rook mate, "stay away"?
Question 3: What does IM Rensch say the is the "only square the queen can move to without playing a check" in his Queen vs Pawns: The "Magic Square" Technique video?
Question 4: In GM Bojkov's Bishop versus Knight Chess Mentor Course (Lesson 4 -- "Domination"), what was black's first correct move in the game Efimenko vs Najer, Bundesliga 2008/2009?
Question 5: Which strong grandmaster is the subject of IM David Pruess's two "Amazing Games for Beginners" videos featured in this study plan?
Answers: 1. No. Black can gain the distant opposition and draw after 1...Ke7 2.Kd2/f2 Ke6 3.Ke3 Ke5, drawing; 2. A "Knight's Distance"; 3. The square "directly behind" the passed pawn; 4. 1...Bd3!; 5. Akiba Rubinstein!