Endings to Know

Endings to Know

Mar 29, 2016, 12:44 AM |

Recently i've saved some very bad positions against masters by knowing how to hold difficult endings. This combined with some of the ending mishaps that occur even in the games of world class players have convinced me that improving my endings (even if they're comparitvely one of my strengths) is a very good use of my time.

so i'm going to be blogging about some endings i'm reviewing and learning. partially because if I have to share I know i'll do a better job, and partially so I have an easy reference online for some of the harder positions (as much as I love chess books playing through a diagram is a much easier refresher than looking up positions in an endgame manual.)


I'm going to be dealing with endings I feel are important to know and carry some practical value. If you are a beginner looking to learn elementary endings, a club/tournament player looking to brush up on basic endings (This is a great use of your time, but not the focus of this blog!), or someone that likes diagrams with x's  on the board and manuevers arbitrarily named after players or letters of the alphabet, this blog is not for you.

I'm going to start with the Bishop and Knight vs King ending, which is less difficult than its reputation suggest. I realize this comes up extremely rarely, but I believe any ambitious player should know it. I've known this ending for years but this weekend one of my friends had it over the board, and in analyzing his game (he didn't know the winning method but managed to mate anyway) realized I had gotten rusty on some of the ideas.

There are two basic ideas to know in this ending:

1. Drive the opposing king into the corner which is the opposite color of your bishop (you mate in the other corner, but can only force the king there from the other one). This should be pretty easy for most players.

2. your king belongs on the 6th rank, and your knight will move along the squares on the 7th rank that are the SAME COLOR as your bishop (so it controls the squares of the other color)

Now for the Analysis, there are really only two variations you need to know once you have the king in the corner:

Next is the Philidor Position of Rook and Bishop vs Rook, which I decided is worth learning after seeing Caruana fail to win it against Svidler in the 2016 Candidates. Defending rook and Bishop vs rook may be the subject of a future blog, for those interested Wikipedia has a decent summary of the defensive ideas. but for now lets focus on converting the definite win:

When I came up with the idea to write this blog I decided in addition to explanations of these endings I wanted to have them in a puzzle format to be used as a quick refresher:

That's all for now! Next time I'll be doing some Rook and Pawn(s) vs Rook endings. I hope someone finds this post useful!