We have an end-game!

Sep 7, 2013, 8:49 PM |

Our meeting of election day, Sat. 7th Sept., brought us 2 welcome newcomers, Nick Vaggers from the UK, and John Clark, recently moved into Saltwater River. Good to have you both. Though Ilan's cafe was closed, he kindly gave us coffees prepared by himself to his own high standards. Thankyou.


Ilan and David C both played games with me in which we tested out the consequences of flouting classical opening “theory”. Ilan brought his queen out early, and that poor old duffer was chivvied about by minor pieces. Her tiara was skewiff; her handbag was a mess. Her army fell behind by 3 moves in development during only 10.


David made 6 pawn moves in the first 12 or 15. These claimed the centre and launched an attack on my castled king, but left his queen's knight on the back row and his king stuck in the centre by a wicked bishop of mine. He was vulnerable on the queen's side and in the centre. We concluded that he had been “trying to do too much in too short a time”.


Jeddah's learning processes are interesting in this respect. She has the ability to hear so-called “principles”, to discern their value and internalise them, and to put them into practice. I feel that this contrasts with the temperaments of David C., Branko & me. Presented with another's guiding notions, we will see a red rag. We have to learn experientially, perhaps? Our learning styles may be called kinaesthetic? Or visual, rather than Jeddah's auditory? Perhaps we should buy some sturdy analog chess clocks, in order to play many faster games, and to make those necessary discoveries a bit more efficiently than we now are?!? Fast chess is also quite exciting.


Another way of learning about opening theory would be to read (and re-read) a well-written book, Winning Chess Openings by Yasser Seirawan. It's on the shelf in Hobart's library, and I'll try get it in... beat me to it, if you like! But we spend too much time on openings, and the result is that even quite good players have much less sense of ease with the end-game than the beginning. (I find the middle-game hardest to set goals and strategies for myself.)


So: an end-game! Nick & Ilan got to one which was somewhat equal.


  • Black is a pawn ahead, and has a supported passed pawn.
  • white has a queen's side pawn majority
  • black has a king's side pawn majority
  • black has pawns on dark squares which can be defended by his bishop.
  • white has a knight, so (if the rooks are swapped off, next) can defend its own pawns and attack the opponent's.
  • the game is an open game with plenty of space to be occupied and defended, not a closed one.  This is a point in black's favour rather than white's, as the long-range bishop is a little better in such position. If the position were closed, then mostly white could easily draw.
  • This is the time when kings can be "developed", as they can emerge with safety (umm, sometimes. mostly).
  • Both kings are undeveloped.  Games at this stage can be decided very suddenly, simply by having kings facing one another off. They limit one another's movements, but one of them may be closer to attacking the other's pawns.
  • Which side has an advantage, would you say?