The Correct Way to Study Rook Endgames!

The Correct Way to Study Rook Endgames!

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Morning, chess mates! I'm continuing to blog about my experience of studying chess books with Forward Chess! Please check out my blog relating my experience studying openings with Forward Chess in this blog: 

Rook endings are among the most common endgames in chess and it would be of great benefit for the ambitious chess player to have mastered theoretical endings, as well practical endings. 

Here are the just a few reasons understanding and memorizing rook endings will earn you many extra points over the course of your chess career.

  • Proficiency in basic theoretical endings (Vancura, Lucena, Philidor, etc) will help you effortlessly convert dead wins or save dead draws. 
  • You'll steer less clear positions to your end goal. This way you can effectively cut your calculation the moment you understand the position that will be reached is a theoretical position you are confident in. (A Lucena position, for instance.)
  • You're far less likely to make a blunder in time trouble that spoils the win (or draw) if you know the theoretical ending by heart.

Now here is the summary of the advantages of understanding practical endings well.

  • You will pose practical problems for your opponent in defense that will make his defensive job more difficult and hence encourages him to err.
  • In time pressure, your endgame instincts will be keener than your opponents. 
  • In the process you'll assimilate typical themes, relevant maneuvers, and tricks!

Alright, you may be thinking "I understand the significance of being knowledgeable in rook endings, so how should I go about studying them efficaciously?"

Hmmm... okay. You will need an adequate guide. What makes a good book? 

  • It should be authored by a credible endgame authority. 
  • The pages should captivate your attention.
  • Lucid explanations.
  • Must-know classical games.
  • Sound-engine checked variations with plenty of analysis and clever use of words.
  • Most importantly it should be published by Thinkers Publishing™!  (Or any of the other big-name publishers for that matter!)

 Ahh! but what supplies do I need? Well, a chess board to set the position, a book to study from, obviously, a strong engine to examine the veracity of the book variations, lots of patience... and a convenient study room free of distractions! 

Forward Chess has the engine, interactive board, and chess book into a neat app. You can study anywhere, anytime! In addition, you can leave book marks on desired pages and turn on night mode if wish.

A reliable book for the modern tournament player is experienced Greek GM Efstratios Grivas's Your Jungle Guide to Rook Endings.  = .

Efstratios Grivas

Here are my 4 favorite examples, complete with the books variations and explanations. 

Paradox? (Difficulty: )

Depth! (Difficulty: ) Note: More subtle solution.
Squeeze the opponent with small positional advantages! 
Important tricks! (Difficulty: )
Grivas delineates a humorous yet shockingly accurate list of ways players lose dead drawn endings!  Over-relaxation is of course the most painful of all, yet the one error the most in our control.
  • Have a lack of knowledge.
  • Relax.
  • Being in severe time pressure.
  • 'Denial' of activity.
  • Error in Calculation.

To my alarm, Grivas provides a wealth if examples of how 2600+ Grandmasters frequently spoil dead draws! Watch Nepo inadvertently self-destruct. Mind you, it was a very serious classical time control game: Sinquefield Cup. What agonizing defeat.

Nepomniatchi in more cheerful times than in the endgame torture he endured against Giri at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup.

Conclusion: This book has instructive practical examples, theoretical examples, unusual examples, studies, classical games, and very, very modern games. Reading this book helped me enjoyably improve my rook endgame technique. I recommend it to every chess player who wants to improve their game.