WPP #2 - Playing the Endgame Like a Beginner
"The average western amateur plays the opening like a grandmaster, the middlegame like an expert and the endgame like a beginner." - old Soviet quip
Strangely I couldn't find this quote on the internet, since when you search "chess endgame quotes western amateur" as an image SafeSearch kicks in and blocks you. I really wonder what exactly is objectionable about those search terms and what exactly turns up if you turn SafeSearch off, but it's all good. I don't really need that quote that badly anyway.
Quotes by Russian chess players... Wouldn't want that!
The quote still rings true today, though, as even decent 1500-1600 players can look like buffoons in the endgame, losing dead drawn positions and drawing winning ones, dropping half-points like madmen at a 70%, 80% or even 90% clip. Trust me, I know. Here's a few of my uglier efforts.
These games all share some key aspects that might help shed some light on why I suck at endgames so much. Here`s my list:
- Failure to let go of aesthetics. I had several opportunities to force a draw by playing ... e4 in the first game, but I never played it because the move itself was just so ugly.
- The urge to do something. This was what caused the ugly 38. Qd5 in the first game, among others.
- Trading pieces for no good reason. This is the most blatantly obvious one, and it can easily turn a better endgame into a worse one or a worse one into a losing one.
- Just accepting my opponent`s ``activity``. This is what leads to stupid piece trades like 20... Qa8 and 27... Rc8 in the first game.
I`m not really sure how to characterize the ending of this story, because a western amateur`s struggle with endgame technique never really ends. Take a look at the following game where I was completely outplayed:
As always, once the queens were traded, I was absolutely destroyed. But it's nice to get a half-point out of it.