Grandmaster William J. Lombardy

Grandmaster William J. Lombardy

Jan 25, 2018, 3:36 PM |

Grandmaster William Lombardy was an inspiration to me as a chess player. I came to know him only when he was old and already struggling. Once a week I would go to his apartment to chat and play chess with him, after he was evicted from it he lived in my father’s basement for about six months.

William with my father

My father and William after eating a dessert, they were good friends. William was telling us stories of Najdorf giving 40 to 1 odds and winning, completely mind blowing stuff. I beat him in a game of chess while we were eating that day, it took four hours but "It didn't count because we were at a restaurant". Typical Lombardy, he never wanted to admit defeat. 


Though difficult at times, he was a dear friend to me, and it saddens me deeply that he is no longer with us. He taught me many things, especially about fighting spirit, focus, and domination in chess.

He had always urged me to do two things in order to improve, play over the games in the database, and study the endgame. Endgames, he would say, never change, learn them well and you can have them forever. I’m paraphrasing in retrospect but you get the idea and it’s true, many endgames discovered centuries ago are still sound and frequented to this day. The first positions he ever showed me were a few from, C.E.Tattersall’s A Thousand Chess Endings (which I think he may have known by heart), namely:

I figure I will pass these studies along for those who don't know them, but before I do so it is useful to know a few basic examples first:


Now I think we are ready for the first solution. 

 For the second study one should be aware of what the ultamate goal is, which is the following zugzwang checkmating pattern

 Now for the solution:

I hope you have enjoyed these examples. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I only seriously started to study the database and endgames after he died, better late than never but I wish we could have done more of it together.