8 tips to play better in endgames

8 tips to play better in endgames

FM michechess89

Hello everyone. People already know how important it is to learn and play well in the endgame. However, sometimes we feel overwhelmed with so many things to learn and so much information to watch. That’s why I wrote this post about some important things every chess player needs to do and learn to play better in endgames. They are basic, but helpful, so don’t forget them.


Before the game:

  • Learn some basic general endgames

You won’t have to spend too much time, and it will help you so much in your games. I wrote a post about this with some of the most important and basic endgames you need to know.


  • Get ready for rook endings

Rook endings are the most common in chess. The rooks are the last ones coming out; maybe that’s why this kind of endgame happens so often in our games. There is no magic recipe, just study them. If you don’t want to spend too much time with this, at least learn Lucena and Philidor. It is going to help you for sure.

                                                                   Lucena Endgame


                                                                    Philidor Endgame

In the game:

  • Advance the free pawn to create passed pawns

You don’t want one opponent pawn stopping two of your pawns; so, advance the one which doesn’t have a pawn in front.


                                                                          Wrong way (b4??)

                                                                           Right way (a4!)

  • Try to get the 7th rank

It’s related with rooks and the high possibility to meet this kind of endgame. 7th rank is very special. It’s not the same than 6th, 5th or any other rank. In 7th (or 2nd) rank you can usually find a lot of pawns. Even if you don’t capture some of them, your opponent will have to keep some pieces in passive squares protecting pawns. Also, over this rank you can cut the opponent king so it can’t go to the center (which is the next tip).  


  • Activate your king

In the endgame, there is no danger for the king, because there are no so many pieces to create a mate situation, so, it’s a good idea to use it to attack your opponents’ pawns, to support a passed pawn you created or for any other mission you might need. I have read that the king in the endgame is worth about 3 points, which makes sense, because, if we compare it with a bishop, it can’t move so fast over the board, but, on the other side, it can control any square around, no matter the color (on the contrary of bishops). So, take advantage of that and activate your king, it’s like having one more minor piece on the board.

                                          Famous endgame Capablanca vs Tartakower, 1924


  • Take care of your pawn structure

If you have islands, isolated, doubled pawns… that’s bad for you. It’s bad for every phase of the game, but it increases its significance in the endgame.

                                      Didactic example of bad pawn structure in the endgame

  • Work where you have the advantage

I have already heard some students saying: “I knew I was better, but I didn’t know how to make any progress in that endgame”. Almost always, you need to work where you have the advantage. It’s an important rule for endgames. To win, or to create some trouble to your opponent, work in the side of the board where you have more space or have a pawn majority, so you can create passed pawns.    


  • Do not move pawns if you don’t need

For any phase of the game, also for endgames, just move the pawns you really need to move. Remember they can’t go back, and when they advance, they create new weaknesses and leave some squares unprotected. If you are going to move a pawn, make sure it’s a move your position needs. The more advanced your pawns are, the weaker they will be (easier to attack and harder to defend). That been said, usually, the only way to win is by advancing your pawns .

                                                Bad pawn move creating weaknesses (g6??)

Summarizing, some important tips to have better results in endgames, are: make sure to learn some basic positions that can happen very often, pay attention when moving your pawns, take advantage of the 7th rank, avoid endings with bad pawns structure, activate your king and finally work where you have the advantage.

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For professional videos and lessons about endgames:

An Endgame Expert

Practical Endgames