Endgame books


I have an old library of chess books from the '60's including Reuben Fine's Basic Chess Endings.  It is an old McKay paperback that is falling apart and while still usable, it won't be for long and needs to be retired.  It is also written in EN with which I am comfortable but is a bit awkward in these days of AN.

So I'm looking to upgrade to a newer endgame book in AN.  Silman seems to be one to avoid as it's considered by many to be "overrated" so I'm looking at several others.  My rating is below 2000.

Nunn has three books on endgames.  One is Understanding Chess Endgames in a single volumeThen he has a two volume pair Nunn's Chess Endings, Vol. 1 and Nunn's Chess Endings, Vol. 2.  And there is the book by Seirawan Winning Chess Endings and the advanced Dvoretsky's Engame Manual of which lesser players are warned.

I don't have any good way to review these books before I decide on a purchase, and I live in a relatively remote area with no local access to other players with chess libraries so I can't lay hands on copies for evaluation.  So I have some questions.

I will eventually put Dvoretsky on the shelf for reference as it seems to be the final word.  My question is among the other choices.  Is the single volume Nunn book a condensed version of the two volume books?  Are any of these in EN?  (Although I am comfortable in both EN and algebraic, I prefer algebraic these days.)  How does Seirawan stack up against either the single or two-volume Nunn?  And at the risk of opening up a can of worms, are there others worthy of consideration?


Do you want a theoretical endgame reference book or something that tells you what the general principles for playing different types of endings are?

Silmans Endgame Course gets pretty good reviews, I don't know where you saw it was overrated. Its structured to take you from beginner level knowledge to Expert so I would imagine it fits your needs.

My favourite endgame book is Endgame Strategy by Shereshevsky. The examples are not broken down into Rook Endings, Opposite coloured Bishop endings, Knight v Bishop etc because the starting positions are based on strategic themes rather than the material left on the board but theres a great index where you can search for specific endings within the games like the ones I mentioned.


Hi mldavis.  There are lots of books that cover same topic, in the end what matters is whether you can connect with the author or not.  Your mind set matters a lot when reading a book, any book for that matter.  Some people may suggest this book over that other book but that doesn't mean you will find such book appealing to you.  Typical personal issues with chess books are: too wordy/not enough words, too complicated/too easy, too much structure/way too disorganized, clear concepts explained/very cumbersome details, etc.  If your budget allows buy the two books you like the most, or the ones you think would like the most.  At least in amazon you can check table of contents, and flip through some sample pages which should help on you evalutation whether to buy or not to buy.  In case you do go for Dvoretsky's Engame Manual the current edition is 3rd and the CD version is 1st edition, and join our group if you like.  Cheers.


Two very good replies.  Thanks.

I don't know that I've read many books on chess that I didn't like.  I think it is helpful to read different views of various authors that usually lead to the same "best move" or best idea results.  I have about 40 books, most of them acquired back in the 60's and 70's and in EN, and I'm looking to update.

It sounds as if Shereshevsky is concerned with setting up for the endgame rather than the mechanics of using known piece combinations to force a win.  Since endgame "books" are available online and used by chess engines these days, I'm thinking strategy and theory is more important than mechanics.

The Nunn books would seem, based on their titles, to be separate focuses, with the "chess endings" being more mechanics and the "understanding" more theory and strategy.  I'll see what I can find online and report back.


You might want to read the book reviews in the archives on ChessCafe. I think all except Seirawan's book have been reviewed there.


That was my next project - to see if I can find reviews.  The problem with placing too much trust in reviews is that reviewers have their own biases, while a group consensus on forums such as this can be more objective with more feedback.

I like the idea of a series of books as a single course, but that does lock you into one author's view and style. 

A manual containing all the "routine" ending piece combinations is helpful in analysis and online play.  However I play almost exclusively OTB, not trusting opponents to play unaided online, so endgame books for use during play is not a consideration.  I want them for post-game analysis and for learning.


This is a very simplistic overview of Shereshevsky but basically he starts from either a queenless middlegame or endings with lots of pawns left and tells you what plans are appropriate for that type of position. For anybody that really has no idea how to go about winning 'won' positions where there aren't any tactics involved its fantastic stuff, unique in my experience.


I also recommend Shereshevsky's book for motivated endgame students. It seemed very practical and addresses ways to think about endgame issues as opposed to mere analysis.

The Principle of Two Weaknesses is alone worth the price of entry. If your games are fairly level you will be using it a lot.

You would like to have a good reference work as well. I have FCE and while I barely cracked it since the purchase, it looks pretty good, with didactic value.

I also have Euwe's endgame book, the old Dover reprint. It's older-fashioned but it does repay any effort one puts into it.

For students who need a good, quick foundation, Pandolfini's endgame book is good, despite the errors. Really, one can breeze through it and be ready for the next level. That makes it handy, and even if that's as far as one gets, some essential lessons are in the repertoire and points will be won or saved.

Some question the utility of studying the endgame for lower-rated players, as they hardly get into an even endgame. If we accept this as valid, I still think a good, basic understanding of k+p and r+p endings is in order, and the most basic bits of b+p. tonydal/omar/andyclifton (2290 USCF max) recommends Emms' rook&pawn endgame book.


Hi mldavis, Nunn's two volume set is good.  There are question marks everywhere because the analysis is so rigorous.  It is advanced stuff.  It goes to show how many errors are made in the endgame phase, tossing half points back and forth.  The problem is he spends his energy showing what previous commentators got wrong.  It isn't the best material from which to learn the basics.

roi_g11 recommended two excellent books.


Thanks to all.  I'm still evaluating reviews.  I'll report back what I find.


You can read reviews at amazon, which is still a big improvement over no review of your own. What's your rating or est rating, since you're unr ated here? Unless you're USCF Class-A or higher I suspect Dvoretsky (and maybe Nunn) can be dispensed with for now. 

BCE has been reissued in AN and if you can afford it it's still a great one vol. reference work, you'll still need something else to use as a textbook to learn from, but you can learn a lot from BCE - in very small, bite-size pieces at a time...



More reviews can be found here:



I am enjoying following this thread, since I think it is time for me to devote some time in improving my endgame also. I have noted the books mentioned herein, and thank you all for the suggestions. Sorry I could not recommend any...


has anyone seen the Daniel N. book, "Mastering Complex Endgames"?  Any feedback would be appreciated.


A friend and I were studying out of his big Batsford endgame book for a few sessions, and a few months later I was able to save a half point by holding off a king and pawn with my knight. Elementary stuff but maybe you don't find it otb if you never knew it.

I thought the Batsford taught pretty well and worked as reference too.

Like many endgame books, it's big.

The Euwe/Hooper endgame book is quite portable though, which can make a difference of having it with you or not.

Some of the very well liked Mednis books are pretty slim, but specific, like Bishop endings. Good though.

Another small book is Livshitz's Test Your Endgame Ability. In the form of timed tests on the usual-themed topics, it steps you through a learning process. It'd be great as a companion to a book like Silman's, or it could be used by itself. Didn't care for the binding so much but the material is good.


Endgame Strategy- Mikhail Shereshersky has been reviewed by IM BryanSmith on chess.com. This can be found in the Articles section.


I shelled out the 25 bucks for the Silman, and I love it!


I spent some time digging through John Watson's reviews of endgame books (TWIC).  Typical of so many reviewers, he is almost universally complimentary of the books he reviews, perhaps because he is given them gratis or he may know the author personally.  I'm still reading reviews, but I'm beginning to think I should quit reading the reviews and start reading the books. Smile

As I mentioned, I do have an old copy of Fine's Basic Chess Endings which is beginning to lose its pages through the ravages of time.  It remains a good "encyclopedia" of endings, but I don't think it ranks well with more pedantic, theoretical books.  Silman is on my short list along with Shereshevsky.  Still looking for reviews, however.

Silman has been criticized for wasted space in the pages.  He has been praised for his structure by strength and his readability.

One book that Watson liked was Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics, but the price is outrageous and the book generally unavailable.  He does make the valid point that books tend to be aimed at players of strength relative to the author, so a world champion is likely to publish very advanced material while a "simple" GM is more likely to write down to the average club player.  Probably a valid generalization and worthy of consideration.


If you like Silman and have an iPad or iPhone you can't go wrong with the e+Chess app. It has his book with an interactive chessboard . It also has audio clips of him stressing some key points.