What You Should Know: Endgames (Ratings 1600-1799)

What You Should Know: Endgames (Ratings 1600-1799)

NM CraiggoryC
Jun 26, 2016, 12:57 PM |

When you reach the rating of 1600, you are considered a club player. You may not think this means anything, but in actuality it really means you can walk into 100 American coffeeshops, and at least 90 times you'll be, by far, the best player there! This is the rating where you really need to hunker down if you want to make any progress; this is where chess "gets real"! Because of the above, this is the level where you should be laying the groundwork for a strong foundation of chess knowledge. Let's get on to it!


  • Rook Endgames: Laying the foundation
  • Bishop & Knights: Generalities

The Lucena: The most classical way to win a Rook endgame!

Below are some examples of the pitfalls of not knowing the Lucena.

In the below puzzle can you find the move that L.R. Lucena found in 1497!

The Philidor (Endgame) Defense: The most classical way to draw a Rook endgame!

The next two diagrams show you the dangers of not knowing the Philidor defense

Think about what you've already learned, what's the Lucena way to punch home the full point?

The easiest way to draw the game: Use The Philidor Defense, invented in 1777!

Lucena and Philidor Conclusion:
  • If you are the side a pawn up, try to get your King within striking distance of the "Queening square" of your pawn. Once you do this, build the Lucena bridge and Queen yourself to victory!
  • If you are the side a pawn down, make sure your King is able to keep the opposing King away from the "Queening square". Instead plant your King on the Queening square and do the Philidor defense: don't let the opposing King reach the 6th rank before his pawn does!

King on the "Short Side", Rook on the "Long side":

The above endgame is pretty difficult. You'd be greatly served trying out this endgame vs. a friend and/or using this endgame tablebase

Bishops & Knights: Generalities

Bishop Strengths:

  1. Bishops due to their long distance powers are great at stopping/eating passed pawns,
  2. Positions with pawns on BOTH sides of the board
  3. Exchanging off for a Knight to transpose into a simpler, winning endgame.
  4. Wasting a tempo (you can just move it one square on the same diagonal where it's needed).
  5. Great at challenging a Bishop of the same color. Many same colored Bishop endgames are won because of this.

Bishop Weaknesses

  1. Attacking pawns on the "other color".
  2. Their long distance powers are masked when pawns are on only one side of the board.
  3. When faced off against a Bishop of the opposite color, they can do nothing to counter it. Many opposite colored Bishops are drawn because of this.

Knight Strengths:

  1. Can wreak havoc, especially if supported by a pawn on an outpost, in positions where pawns are in a limited area.
  2. There never is an opposite colored Knight situation.
  3. Still the master of forking pieces and pawns

Knight Weaknesses:

  1. 2 Knights are not enough to mate with just themselves
  2. Knights are horrible at stopping pawns (especially Rook pawns) due to theirpredominately short range powers.
  3. Knights can be easily dominated by a Bishop and it's much harder to force the exchange of a Knight for a Bishop.
  4. Knights struggle to keep up with Bishops with pawns on both sides of the board.
  5. Everytime the Knight moves, it hits different squares. <--due to that, it's hard to waste a move with the Knight.

The Endgame is the phase that gives Knights a bad rap in relation to Bishops. There are situations where Knights are better than Bishops, but there are more where the Bishops are better. Be careful of this when deciding about exchanging a Bishop for a Knight in the late Middlegame!


The Rook endgames we covered in this blog are very important for the aspiring chess player! Make sure you really get the endgames in this blog; it will serve you for many years to come.Rook endgames make up 60%+ of all endgames, so knowing the basics is essential for your chess growth! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment directly to this blog. Thanks!