In my time playing chess, I have learned a lot, and my skills have developed in ways I never expected. One area in particular where I have shown some skill is the endgame. Whether you're one of those people who love the endgame or one of those who hate it, it definitely is the part of the game where both players really have to show their stuff. Yesterday's World Championship match (game 3) demonstrated that even at the absolute highest levels of the chess-playing world, the endgame is where all the magic happens.
When I first learned chess, I hated the endgame. I felt that endgames were boring—too stagnant with no tactical opportunities—and that the middlegame was the fun part. Perhaps this feeling was confirmed when I witnessed that many players, when entering a slightly disadvantaged endgame, chose to resign rather than fight the hard battle. But looking back on how I felt back then, I realize I couldn't have been more mistaken!
The endgame is the heart and soul of chess. Though middlegame mates can be quite elegant, and tactical opportunities abound, most matches will eventually come to an endgame. In a sense, the middlegame is really a battle to see who can gain the endgame advantage! And though I believed there were no endgame tactics, endgames often afford the possibility of game-winning tactics. The strategy involved here is immense, and if you want to go far in chess, you need to study the endgame.
"In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else, for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame." —Jose Raul Capablanca
"Openings teach you openings. Endgames teach you chess!" —Stephan Gerzadowicz
When I took the time to learn how to effectively play an endgame, I noticed a pattern start to emerge: I could come into an endgame one or two pawns down—sometimes even a minor piece down!—and still win in the end. I was astonished at first, but now I've come to wonder if players at my level often do not study endgames well enough, giving me an advantage. I would definitely say that the endgame is now my strength, and I have become accustomed to having to redeem my inaccurate middlegame play with a resounding endgame.
Endgames have become second-nature to me, and I've learned never to resign too soon.
The game below is just one recent example of this phenomenon, complete with endgame tactics. Though my play was by no means perfect or irrefutable, I believe the time crunch, coupled with my comfort playing endgames, left me with an edge, and I was able to convert this into a win. Enjoy!