Endgame Books

Endgame Books

Jan 19, 2012, 8:49 AM 13,997 Reads 10 Comments

Reuben Fine (October 11, 1914 – March 26, 1993) was one of the strongest chess players in the world from the early 1930s through the 1940s, an  International Grandmaster, psychologis, university professor and author of many books on both chess and psychology.

(His endgame classic BASIC CHESS ENDINGS is one of the most famous endgame books in chess, and probably one of the most famous chess books as well - NR)

Fine won five medals (four gold) in three chess Olympiads. Fine won the U.S. Open Chess Championship all seven times he entered (1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1939, 1940, 1941); this is a record for that event. He was the author of several chess books that are still popular today, including important books on the endgame, opening, and middlegame.

Although Fine was regarded as a serious contender for the World Chess Championship, he declined his invitation to participate in the six-player 1948 tournament, which was organized to determine the World Champion after the 1946 death of reigning champion Alexander Alekhine, and he virtually retired from serious competition around that time. SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reuben_Fine

I'm going to post some info and comments on endgame books I own and if there's any interest I will add reviews of other books I'm not personally familiar with. My main criterion will be how useful a book is and who it's useful for (ie beginners - intermediate and/or advanced players), how much it costs and its availability. All books are PB (paperback) unless otherwise noted HB (Hardback). Class-A, B, C etc refers to USCF ratings - not chess.com ratings!

BTW I'm not getting pd to shill for amazon :( but I will generally list them as a seller if they have a book I'm reviewing because I've bought many books from them without any complaints, their prices tend to be very competitive and some of their books are available with free shipping on orders of +$25.00.  I list the (relatively) best price available at the time I edit this blog, so prices may vary when you go shopping. You can also buy chess books right here and at eBay not to mention many other chess and/or book dealers online. 

AN = Algebraic Notation   EN = English Notation  HB = Hardback  PB = Paperback  The following books are listed in alphabetical order

1234 Modern End-Game Studies compiled by M.A. Sutherland and H.M.Lommer. Corrected reprint of the first (1938) edition. New author's preface. New errata section. Introductions by Andre Cheron and Dr J.C.A. Fischer. Appendix. xxiv + 358 pp. 5 3/8" x 8 1/2". AN - PB (from the back cover of my copy, Dover 1968.)

AVAILABILITY: about $7.00 used at  http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0486218848/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: Recommended for class-B players on up, but if you only own one endgame book this isn't the one you should own. The studies are mostly "gamelike" but there is no commentary, just diagrams and solutions. This is an excellent bargain to add to your endgame library in conjunction with one or more other books.

OTHER REVIEWS WORTH READING:  http://www.amazon.com/1234-Modern-End-Game-Studies/product-reviews/0486218848/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

ETC: This was one of the first english language books to come out in AN - the original 1938 edition was in AN

2.  A Guide to Chess Endings by Dr Max Euwe and David Hooper. Unabridged, corrected republication of the first (1960) American edition. 331 diagrams. Index of players. Index of composers and analysts. viii + 248 pp. 5 3/8" x 8 1/2" PB - EN    The above info is from the back cover of my copy

AVAILABILITY: $6 used at  http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0486233324/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used $6.00 (used)

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY:  Anyone from Class-C on up who doesn't own an endgame book or wants to read another one could do a lot worse than buy this one.  At $6.00 this is a great bargain for all classes of players although players who already own other endgame books by players such as Keres, Silman, Dvoretsky and other acknowledged experts probably don't need it. This is a "How to Play Endgames" type of book, not an encyclopedic one vol reference work such as GM Fine's BCE. One of the authors Dr Euwe is an ex-World Champ (1935-7) so there is no question regarding this book's authoritativeness.

This book offers clear, thorough coverage of the most important, frequently encountered endgame situations. 331 examples are analyzed (each with its own diagram), including 30 examples of Queen endings, and 100 examples each of pawn endings, minor piece endings, and rook endings.  SOURCE: http://books.google.com/books/about/A_Guide_to_Chess_Endings.html?id=WYDHbh8I5J4C

3. Basic Chess Endings (BCE) by GM Ruben Fine, Tartan, 1941; xiv + 573 pp.      PB, EN - This info refers to my antiquated copy (1967) with a list price of $2.95!

An updated edition in AN by GM Pal Benko and Burt Hochberg is available. There are various criticisms of this update but if you can't stand EN don't worry about them; otherwise either edition is highly recommended.

AVAILABILITY: $5.00 used in AN:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0679140026/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used 

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: This is an excellent one-vol encyclopedic reference work - it is not a " Learn How to Play Endgames" type of book, so use it in conjunction with a "How to Play Endgames" type of book. At $5.00 it is an excellent value for players class-B on up, but lower-rated players who are interested in endgames will not find it a waste of money.

ETC: See the thumbnail bio of Fine above.  He supposedly wrote this massive tome in 6 weeks - or 4 months depending on the source, which is still an amazingly short time to churn out a one vol. endgame encyclopedia.  This book is rightly considered a classic and at $5.00 it's a great bargain! But again, I must emphasize that if you only own one endgame book, this is not the one to own (unless you're the type of person who likes to read dictionaries). BCE is a reference work to be used in conjunction with other endgame books, not a learning book.

OTHER REVIEWS WORTH READING: http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Chess-Endings-Reuben-Fine/product-reviews/0679140026/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1                                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Chess_Endings 

4.Nalimov Endgame Tables (software) These endgame tables cover - and solve - ALL endgames with 6 or fewer pieces (note: Kings and pawns = "pieces" in this case) There is one exception at the website - 5 pieces vs 1 are not covered. This is a free resource but can be quite cumbersome since only one ply is shown at a time (ie 1.e4 = 1 play, 1.e4 e5 = 2 ply etc). http://thechessworld.com/resources/nalimov-endgame-tables

Endgame Turbo 3 - Nalimov Tablebases on 9 DVDs works with CB 8/Fritz 8 (or later versions) see the link here for system requirements.  

AVAILABILITY: About $45 (inc S+H) from http://www.amazon.com/Endgame-Turbo-Nalimov-Tablebases-DVDs/dp/B0002QUDO0 

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: Since a free version is available to use online and these Tablebases are limited to endgames of 6 pieces or less I doubt if these Tablebases are a necessity or even very useful for most amateurs (players below master level). These DVDs do look like a great way to double-check your own analysis and the analysis of chess books and articles on specific endings but not like a great way (or anyway at all) to actually learn how to play endgames in general or to learn basic endgame principles from. On the other hand, for amateurs who already own the requisite software and are endgame afficionados these DVDs don't look like they would be a waste of money.

5. Nunn's Chess Endings: Vol I  by GM Nunn - Gambit Publications 2010. 319 pp.

6. Vol 2 - Gambit Publications, 2010. 351 pp.

AVAILABILITY: vol 1 - $22.46 new @ http://www.amazon.com/Nunns-Chess-Endings-John-Nunn/dp/1906454213

vol 2 - $24 new @ amazon (just type John Nunn in their search box)

USEFULNESS - SUITABILTY: I haven't read these books, but IM Silman highly recommends vol ! for players rated +1800 and vol 2 for players rated +2000. See the links to reviews for highly detailed descriptions of each book.

REVIEWS WORTH READING:  vol 1:   http://www.chess4less.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=003115&AFFIL=JEREMY   


vol  2:  http://www.jeremysilman.com/book_reviews_jd/Nunns_Chess_Endings_Vol_2.html


7. Pandolfini's Endgame Course: Basic Endgame Concepts Explained by America's Leading Chess Teacher Fireside Books, 1988. AN 320 pp. 

AVAILABILITY: $6 used at http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0671656880/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=UTF8&condition=used

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: This looks like a great bargain for beginners on up to Class-C players! In 239 diagrams Pandolfini explains the basic mates, and covers all the important endgame concepts such as The Sq of the Pawn, Triangulation, Opposition, the Lucena Position, Philidor's Position etc. and there's also a very handy glossary of endgame terms. This book is highly recommended for anyone who doesn't own any endgame books and isn't familiar with all the above mentioned concepts and basic mates, and for all  novices to the game.

MORE REVIEWS WORTH READING: http://www.amazon.com/Pandolfinis-Endgame-Course-Concepts-Explained/product-reviews/0671656880/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

8. Practical Chess Endings by Irving Chernev. Unabridged, unaltered republication of original 1961 edition. 300 diagrams. Index of composers. 318 pp. 5.375" x 8.5" EN - PB (from the back cover of my 1961 DOVER edition)

AVAILABILITY:  $5 for a used copy at    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/048622208X/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&seller=

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: Good bargain and excellent beginners book for Class B and lower. Also it's a good addition to other endgame books although possibly redundant if you already own 1234 Modern End-Game Studies. However Chernev explains the solutions which 1234 doesn't making this a very good learning tool. A few sources I've read state that this book would be appropriate to read after finishing Pandolfini's Endgame Course, which I agree with 100%.

OTHER REVIEWS WORTH READING: http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Chess-Endings-Irving-Chernev/product-reviews/048622208X/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

9. Practical Chess Endings by GM Paul Keres, RHM Press 1981. ix + 262 pp. EN (newer editions are in AN - and yes, Chernev's book has the exact same title!)

AVAILABILITY: $11 PB, $13.50 HB http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0385067100/ref=tmm_hrd_used_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=used

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: Well worth the money for all players below master level, although you could buy BCE and A Guide to Chess Endings for about the same price. On the other hand, this is a very good endgame book to start out with if you don't have any endgame books.

ETC: Keres is considered by many to be the strongest player in chess history who never became World Champion, so you don't have to worry about the author's endgame credentials.




10. Rook Endings by GMs Levenfish and Smyslov. Batsford, 1989. 216pp.

AVAILABILITY: $40 used HB @   http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0713403543/ref=tmm_hrd_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: Due to the price I only recommend this book to Candidate Masters on up who are really serious about learning R+P endings! Everyone else can buy several other endgame books for the price of this one instead.

ETC: GM Levenfish drew a match with Botvinnik in 1933 and would be a lot more famous if the Soviets had let him play in more foreign tnmts. Smyslov was one of the greatest chess players of all time, World Champion 1957-8 and a renowned endgame expert - nuff said!

11. Estudios y finales de Ajedrez / Chess Studies and End Games                              (Jaque Mate / Checkmate)  by Bernhard Horwitz & Josef Kling.    (Spanish Edition)   ISBN-13: 9788425518195            ISBN-10: 8425518199  Published in 2008  253 pp, 201 diagrams.                        $22.00 new (PB) @Amazon 

USEFULNESS - SUITABILITY: See my blog with a few dozen of Horwitz & Kling compositions  http://blog.chess.com/NimzoRoy/endgame-compositions-by-horwitz-and-kling  Crazychessplaya highly recommends this book and states that fluency in Spanish isn't necessary to enjoy it, as the book consists mainly of diagrams with a caption and the solution. So it's your call:If you're a serious chess book collector and/or serious devotee of chess endgame compositions and/or a big fan of Horwitz & Kling compositions, I'd recommend this book. Otherwise go with the much cheaper 1234 Endgame Studies, although it unfortunately has nothing by H & K, which almost justifies buying this book!

PS: For a more detailed article on endgame books go here   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_endgame_literature


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