Shereshesky's Mastering the Endgame worth it?


It looks like a good series (two volumes) but it cost at the very least $75.00 due to being out of print!  I have Smyslov's Endgame Virtuoso, Shereshevsky's Endgame Strategy, Secrets of Chess Endgame Strategy, and How to Play Chess Endgames so I'm wondering if even with all these endgame strategy books (School of Chess Excellence 3 also has a section on strategic endgames) if it's worth throwing down the money or if I'll simply hit diminishing returns per doller spend on improvement.  If it's not worth that much as far as instructional value goes what's a good alternative? 

What do you find more instructive game collections of a single player or a tournament book?  How I do tournament books is I start with last place and move up.  This approach has two advantages:

1.Go over every game twice

2.Saves the best for last, so we can get the juicy Botvinnik, Smyslov, Topalov, or Lasker victories (or instructive and entertaining hard fought draws)


Shereshevsky's endgames  books are great, study these books will probably get you to master. That problem otb experts, some make it to national master (2200 uscf and higher) and they drop back to expert. I believe player can stay at master level by studying endgame and tactics, too much opening study is doesn't really help a player maintain master level strength.


Single player games ( past masters and grandmasters) or tournament books, both are beneficial, I think a beginnner will benefit by studying a lot Paul Morphy's games, a player who is more advance studying Capablanca, Rubinstein or Botvinnik games. I think tournament book are more for the advance player,for example you see how a player like Karpov wins a tournament by playing safe and risky like Tal.


Jonathan Hawkins, a 31 year-old Englilsh player, has written an intriguing book, "Amateur to IM: Proven Ideas and Training Methods," which focuses entirely on endgames. Hawkins belives that endgame study was the key to his 400 point move upwards. He currently has a FIDE rating of 2552 and has applied for a GM title.

Why did I choose the endgame for the subject of this book? Why will it improve the reader's chess?

The simple answer is that I am convinced a careful study of the endgame sparked the biggest leap forward in my own game. Can it really be that the endgame is more important than other phases of the game?

His reasoning is more pragmatic than the usual "you don't understand chess until you understand the endgame" claim.

Hawkins does believe the endgame should fortify the earlier stages of the game. However, his main concern is that with the easy availability of computers, databases and opening literature, it is difficult to obtain a competitive edge using opening knowledge. Even grandmasters can have difficulty with a well-booked amateur in the opening. Therefore, the place to study to get the edge over most players is the endgame.

Hawkins also believes the concentration required for studying endgames is greater than that for studying openings and middlegames and this pays additional dividends to one's game.


I understand that Shereshevsky is great, but is he $75 for one 250 page book great is the question.  I have Endgame Strategy and read it from cover to cover (even repeating some places) as well as Secrets of Chess Endgame Strategy (an okay book, goes into different territory than Shereshevsky in places and is meant to build on it) so considering my current strategic endgame books (and sections within books) it may be a huge waste, but if it offers something significant my other books don't then it may be worth picking up. 


Yes I'm familiar with Hawkins and agree with his endgame philosophy.  Attacks come and go, but what's left after an attack?  Why bother attacking an opponent's king if you don't know how to exploit the concessions you forced out of the opponent in the ensuing endgame and even create new weaknesses then to stretch out a defense (principle of two weaknesses)? 


So yes, the endgame is certainly important.  Capablanca also stated that the middlegame is studied with the endgame in mind while the opening is played with the middlegame in mind, and Rubinstein created an opening repertoire with the endgame in mind.  Since I'm relatively better at queen endings (thanks largely to Averbakh's CCE volume 3) than queenless middlegames I might scrap the Berlin Wall from my repertoire and stay with the Paulsen and Najdorf, or switch to another Ruy Lopez Defense (Marshall Gambit looks promising), but the Berlin middlegames tend to be strategically rich where many seem out of their element psychologically. 


Yes the concentration needed for endgames is greater as the permutations are very sensitive in places (such as one move wins, the rest draw or even lose) and great calculation is required.


Then again considering reading the Shereshevsky and Bo Hansen strategic endgame books cover to cover so strategic endgames probably aren't my weakest link and I should focus elsewhere (going through Soltis' New Art of Defence in Chess currently) Repeating books I've gone over before certainly can't hurt either. 


What drops many masters back down to expert I suspect is specific preparation: once you cross a certain threshold preparation suddenly becomes far more important. The law of large numbers also predicts streaks, so maybe many had "lucky" streaks similar to continually flipping heads for some time. 


Some of the positions in Fine's Basic Chess Endings even come across as strategic endgames.  Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual is overall better however (made to directly compete with the long established BCE classic and improve upon its structure by adding problems, essentials in blue text, and tragic comedies) even if it's nearly all theoretical endings. 


TGOB: You are out of my league. All I've read is Alburt's "Just the Facts" endgame book. I can hardly advise you on whether Sherevsky's are worth $75.

I just thought Hawkins had an interesting take on the endgame I hadn't heard before, so I put it up there, Rod Serling style, "for your consideration."

I'd be curious to hear how the big endgame books compare. Given the number of general endgame book you already have, I too would wonder what the gains are from a few more.


Surely some masters fall back to expert because they reach their goal and lose some of their drive.

I had a friend who worked at chess on and off for over twenty years before finally hitting 2200 right on the button. His next tournament wasn't as good, he dropped back to expert and never scaled that height again.


Have you worked through Silman's endgame book? Extremely good, and in print and cheaper. Maybe start there? 


I found an excerpt from Sherevsky's "Mastering the Endgame" books and notice that they are very different from the usual recipe endgame books (how to win with king and pawn, how to win with king, rook and pawn, etc.).

Sherevsky starts from the openings and looks at typical endgames that emerge from those openings. Sherevsky doesn't deal with elementary endgames.

I'd still rather spend $75 on Christmas presents, but a hat tip to an interesting idea for an endgame book.

MichaelPorcelli wrote:

Have you worked through Silman's endgame book? Extremely good, and in print and cheaper. Maybe start there? 

I've started long ago and the Silman book would be redundant.  I worked through Fine's Basic Chess Endings cover to cover twice (okay, once and 3/4th the second time around skipping much of the minor piece part the second time since too many examples were composed) and Endgame Strategy, Survival Guide to Rook Endings, Secrets of Pawn Endings, Secrets of Chess Endgame Strategy, and the first parts of CCE 2 and 3 once, and have Understanding Chess Endgames for a foundation when tackling or refreshing a particular imbalance. 


There's a difference between theoretical and strategic endgames and I'm looking mostly for the latter.  I have How to Play Chess Endgames so I've come to the conclusion that while the Mastering Chess Endgames is very likely a great book (Shereshevsky's Endgame Strategy and some articles from School of Chess Excellence were well written) but quite likely not worth the $75 considering my current resources as I'll hit major diminishing returns.  If it's some wonder book that will slap an extra 100 ELO or even 50 ELO strength at this phase of game then of course it'll be worth the money, though nearly no books can do that (except for Endgame Strategy, but that's entry level foundational knowledge for strategic endgames, an excellent book and worth reading again to refresh but need a capstone to truly understand this phase completely)


Shereshevsky 's books being reprinted - no more crazy mark-ups as with used versions:





In my view, Shereshevsky is worth every penny, both Endgame Strategy and Mastering the Endgame. He's a fabulous writer (he wrote all these books shortly after having worked as one of Mark Dvoretsky's coaching assistants). That said, I have to confess an extreme fondness for the "Russian" style of chess writing. I find many Western authors extremely tiresome in their unceasing quest to be entertaining, through constant quipping, street language, and penchant for giving quirky names to concepts and opening variations. This effort often gets in the way of their message in my view. If you want to be improve in chess (and unless you're a genius like Fischer or Carlsen who just has to look at the cover of a book to imbibe its contents), you have to work bl**d* hard and not faff about. It's delusional to think anything else.

GTWR, kindaspongey: These reprints don't cover 'Mastering the Endgame' at all.

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