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There is remarkably very little written about symetrical and equal endgame positions. When these positions appear in Grandmaster games, a draw is agreed and the game is over.
Take this position:
This game would just be declared a draw, and lower-rated players would have no way of studying the technique required to handle this position.
Here is another one:
It is actually rather common for me to lose these types of games against higher rated players, especially in blitz games. The higher rated will often just overpower you with aggressive moves, when the technique to hold the position might actually be very simple.
How would someone approach studying these types of positions, with no annotated games to look at? Playing them against a computer might be a bad idea, because computers are terrible at endgame technique.
Let me know your ideas, thanks.
Play out a few lines vs yourself, try to maximise your piece's activity, defend/attack weak pawns, keep your king safe, and pressure enemy pawns. There are fewer pieces in endgames, so one perpetually passive piece hurts your position a lot. So as always if your king will remain safe prefer counter attacks to passive defense.
This shoudln't be too intensive, you just want a feel for the position. Now load it vs an engine and play it out a few times. After it kills you (or you draw) do a post-mortem type play where you play though from the beginning again this time leaving the evaluation window open.
After seriously considering your next move look at what it suggests. If it doesn't like your move then play it and find out why. If it likes your move but suggests an odd looking alternative play the odd alternative and find out why it also works. etc,
I agree, they're hard: I lost this one. I don't have an engine, though.
Equal endgame starts around move 27.
Didn't look at anything before 31.Rxa8 and here are some comments.
Notice where the weak pawns are. As white you'd like to but your rook on b4 or b7, but you can't, black will take the b-file and threaten infiltration. So where are your weak pawns? a3, c4, and g2. You'd like these anchor pawns on the same rank so your rook can easily defend them so g3 at some point comes to mind.
Anyway all this to say your rook is ideally placed, 32.Kf2 is good. Now in the move list click 32...Ke7 and then click 34...Rb8. Notice how you gave black two moves. Don't be tempted by Re3 because it's a check, only place a piece on a square if you believe it stands better on that square than its previous one.
35.Rc2 abandonds the weak pawns, you had to continue bringing your king over.
35...Rb3 white resigns.
Timothy, your example is far more complicated then my own. When there are 4 rooks on the board, and this many pawns, the chances for complications and counterplay are really massive.
The examples I posted were meant to be a bit more easily drawn, but maybe im wrong.
Wafflemaster, your suggestion of playing these against an engine runs into my original problem with trusting endgame knowledge to computers, who are dumb at endings.
Well, KarlPilkington, I personally think there's way more tactics with 2 minor pieces and 2 queens, especially when one of them is a knight!
That's why it's important to form your own opinions about the position first, and when you do use the computer it's only to test your own ideas. If you have access to a coach by all means use the coach instead.
But also, in the two positions you posted there's nothing really subtle about them i.e. nothing an engine will miss. With symmetric pawns the person who loses will simply be the one who winds up with passive pieces / drops pawns. There should be many moves that draw. I don't think there's a drawback to using an engine in this case to simply practice your basic coordination / blunder checking technique.
Thanks yeres, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.
An engine will tell you that immediately. I suggest downloading one :p
IMO more important are the other errors you made, clearly not seeing infiltration squares / weak pawns.
Can anyone give me some analysis or comments or insights into the positions I posted? I feel like Timothy's position is more immediately tactical and dynamic then the one's I presented.
Not sure if you noticed this, but
I know the frustration! I'm reading an endgame book and try to figure out what to do before looking at the answers, and sometimes I get lucky... Sometimes I wonder "what if" and try to figure out the best responses. Here's one I saw just recently. White should be able to win. It's a symetrical position, except that white has an advantage. You're a higher rated player, so you should be able to see it:
These positions you guys are posting are dynamic and very tactical. A computer could solve them, and if I spent 10-15 minutes I could find the winning line.
The whole point of this post was about symetrical positions which are 0.00 eval, totally equal. There are no wins, and indeed, they should be draws.
Apples and oranges, my friends.
There are dozens of excellent endgame books to buy and study, intensely.
Stop being lazy and buy one. To wit --
So Get With The Program. "Equal" endgames are easy to lose. Learn to play them accurately, and "kick butt," instead.
Nunn! Earlier I couldn't think of it, but that's the name of the author of the one I'm looking at. Very instructional so far.
Thanks, that sounds like a good book recommendation.
I googled inter alia and still have no idea what that refers to. But you say this book covers endgames that are very equal and symetrical?
"Inter Alia" means "amongst other things."
GM Nunn's book (above) covers the 100 most important endgame themes you need to know. He also has a massive (recent) two volume series on "Endgames" that won a prestigious British book award. All can be found on Amazon.
Endgame knowledge can be implemented rapidly. Once you know it, you can usual zip through the moves at Game in 10/5 speed, and slaughter your less knowledgable opponents.
Great fun, once you acquire that knowledge.
A simpler, introductory book is Jeremy Silman, Essential Chess Endgames, Explained Move by Move, (1988). All the basic knowledge you MUST know to (quickly) reach @1600-1700 USCF.
0.00 eval positions are rare and few in between. "Equal" in chess means without a discernable advantage for either side- to the human eye. Many "equal" positions that occur in OTB games are not at all clear; many are sharp and the "equal" aspect refers only to the chances for both sides.
The rook endgame I posted is evaluated as 0.00 by all computers.
The rook endgame is the only one that fits both the computer definition of equal and the human definition. The bishop vs knight endgame is certainly not a 0.00 eval position.