Correct Endgame Exchanges

As we head into the endgame we're often faced with the decision of whether to trade or not. It might be like for like, as in removing a pair of rooks or an exchange leading to a material imbalance, such as a minor piece for three pawns or a bishop and a knight for a rook and a pawn or two.

How do we know when it will benefit us or hurt us?

Some of the ideas we hear are - "Trade pawns not pieces when you're material down."

"Opposite coloured bishop endings are more likely to end in a draw", and it's true that you can be 2 pawns down and still draw an ending with ocb's

It is generally thought that a bishop will outplay a knight in an end game with pawns on both sides of the board. Certainly if the knight's activity can be stifled the extra reach of the bishop will carry extra weight.

Every position has individual characteristics though and there are often no old addages that apply.

I hope to gather as many examples of this kind of dilemma as I can here.


  • 3 years ago


  • 4 years ago


    Yes, the bishops are routinely described as good and bad, but a good knight can be fantastic. In the Chaff Chess game the knight had a miserable middle game and became a shadow of a piece stood in front of an advanced passed pawn.

  • 4 years ago


    Endgames I often come across (and am wary of trading down into) are B + pawns (myself) v N + pawns.  Even though such endgames are said to favour the B over the N if the N is not constrained it's ability to hit all squares on the board is often decisive. 

  • 4 years ago


    This vote chess game in which I played recently shows a clear example of an illogical rook trade which immediately led to trouble for the initiator.

    In the current position the white rook is threatened and the d pawn will fall next. The move 43. Re8+ looks almost as it's played out of frustration. White had come close to forcing a pawn to to the 8th rank, but in the end fell short. Was the rook check played just to achieve a promotion, if only for a fleeting moment?

    The exchange of rooks was forced and White's knight went backwards to be able to join the game. If it had made it to e3 White still would have been in the game.

    45. b4 was played with the intention of keeping the knight back for as long as possible. It was here that White needed to find the accurate king move Kf2! heading for the queenside. Unfortunately for them they played Nb2? which was actually unnecessry as the knight already coverd the b2 square and would hold the b pawn long enough for the king to arrive.

    In my view it was the exchange of rooks which led to White eventually losing. In the short term they were worse, but soon after they ran into trouble because the only good move was so hard to find.  

  • 4 years ago


    With the help of an engine, I've put together a composition illustrating the theme.

    Should White capture Bxg4? - with the idea to win the f pawn? (Rxg4+, Rxg4, fxg4, Kxg4)








     In the puzzle you are now playing Black looking for the best way to take advantage of White's last move. 



















    As this position transfers directly to a winning King and Pawn endgame, I've stretched the topic somewhat. I'll introduce some more abstract examples where exchanges don't lead directly to a win or loss, but the player being just better or worse.

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