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Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle

Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle

Ready to train your whole game?

"Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle" begins with some endgame basics and proceeds to in-depth coverage of king and pawn endings. We have also thrown in some opening challenges. What more could you ask for? Take on this challenge today!

Here is what you will learn:

  • Learn basic and advanced endgame strategy!
  • Learn how to determine if a pawn ending is won or drawn!
  • Practice converting advantages into a win!
  • Learn opening traps and the goals of many openings!

Triangulation

Triangulation is a big word for a small concept. This concept is really about wasting a move (by making a pretty triangular pattern), so that you are able to gain the opposition.
16 Challenges

Basic Draw: King and Pawn vs. King

Should you enter a position where you only have a king left vs. your opponent's king and pawn? This is something that cannot be worked out at the board; you must know.
12 Challenges

King & Pawn Vs King: Attacker's King in Front of Pawn

If White gets the king in front of the pawn, he will have chances to win, depending on who owns the opposition.
8 Challenges

Outflanking

How can White reach the c6, d6 or e6 squares? Black, of course, is going to attempt to stop White from accomplishing this.
5 Challenges

Distant Opposition

One can gain (or see who will get) the opposition even if the kings are a great distance apart.
3 Challenges

Basic Mate: King and Two Bishops vs. King

Two bishops can only deliver mate in a corner. Therefore you must drive the opposing king to the side of the board and force it to a corner from there.
15 Challenges

Basic Mate: King, Bishop and Knight vs. King

This mate is not easy at all, and even masters sometimes have trouble with it. While I don't expect you to learn how to do this from scratch, it is useful to see the final few moves.
7 Challenges

The opening

A chess game has three phases. The first phase is the opening. The opening of a chess game begins on the very first move and usually continues until the pieces are all out.
1 Challenge

Popular Opening: Ruy Lopez

We explore the first several moves of one of the oldest openings. The Ruy Lopez, also called the Spanish Game, was mentioned by Lucena in 1490 and analyzed by Ruy Lopez in 1561.
10 Challenges

Popular Opening: Queen's Gambit Declined

As the Ruy Lopez is the classic response to a beginning of 1.e4 e5, the Queen's Gambit Declined is the classic response to 1.d4.
6 Challenges

Opening: King's Gambit Accepted

We will take a look at the once very popular King's Gambit Accepted. This opening was all the rage in the 1800's, but now it is seen very rarely.
6 Challenges

Opening trap: The Petroff Defense

The Petroff Defense (something that Black chooses to play) was a favorite of American Champion Frank Marshall, who somehow used this drawish opening to score many sharp victories.
7 Challenges

Common Junior Opening: The Giuoco Pianissimo

This is the most common opening in Junior tournaments. The moves are simple and to the point, and Black tends to copy White; a fact that makes a kid's life easy as Black!
8 Challenges

Popular Opening: The Sicilian Defense

The Sicilian Defense has become Black's most popular choice of defense against 1.e4. Rather than copy White, it immediately counterattacks by fighting for control of d4.
6 Challenges

Popular Opening: French Defense

The French Defense is a counterattacking opening that attempts to blow the White e-pawn off the board.
5 Challenges

Popular Opening: Caro-Kann Defense

The Caro-Kann Defense is a favorite of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, the late world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, and Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan and Victor Korchnoi.
12 Challenges

All the rage: Scotch Opening

The Scotch is an old opening that was never a really popular choice for White until Garry Kasparov dusted it off and won a game with it in a World Championship match.
6 Challenges

The risky Center Counter Defense

The Center Counter is a popular opening among beginners who don't really appreciate the dangers of getting the queen out too early.
6 Challenges

The King's Indian Defense

The complicated King's Indian Defense is a favorite among aggressive players who wish to play for the win with the Black pieces.
8 Challenges

The hypermodern Grunfeld Defense

Though champions like Fischer and Kasparov have always preferred the King's Indian Defense, on occasion they have given the Grunfeld Defense a try.
11 Challenges

The ever popular Nimzo-Indian Defense

This opening was invented by the great Aaron Nimzovich in the 1920's. It has since been used at one time or another by virtually every great player worldwide.
9 Challenges

The Queen's Indian Defense

The Queen's Indian is what people play who want to avoid the Nimzo-Indian as White. It sets up a firm, but somewhat boring position where the play is decidedly positional and subtle in nature.
8 Challenges

The positional English Opening

White often plays 1.c4, the English Opening. Black has many ways to meet the English, of course, and transpositions into the King's Indian or Queen's Gambit Declined are very common.
8 Challenges

The Reti Opening

The Reti Opening was an invention of Grandmaster Richard Reti, a hypermodern pioneer who insisted that the center could be controlled by pieces from a distance.
13 Challenges

The bizarre Orangutan Opening

The story goes that Grandmaster Saveilly Tartakower had a day off during the legendary New York 1924 tournament and named an opening after the orangutan!
3 Challenges

Bird's Opening

Though it sounds like this opening was named after creatures with wings, feathers and beaks, it was actually invented and popularized by the English Master Henry Bird.
7 Challenges

The strange case of Alekhine's Defense

Alekhine's Defense was played by the great Alexander Alekhine on just a few occasions.
12 Challenges

Space

You gain space or territory by advancing your pawns. The further your pawns go, the more space you possess.
5 Challenges

The Beginnings of Space

The battle for space starts on the very first move since starting pawn thrusts like 1.e4, 1.d4 or 1.c4 all claim the territory that lies behind these pawns.
7 Challenges

Good Doubled Pawns

A doubled pawn is generally a weakness only if the lead pawn (the pawn closest to the opponent's position and thus the easiest pawn for the opponent to attack) cannot be defended easily.
1 Challenge

Bad Doubled Pawns

Doubled pawns tend to be a bit loose if the lead pawn cannot be defended by another friendly pawn. In the present position White's lead doubled pawn has no other pawn that can defend it.
5 Challenges

Pawn Chains

After the well known opening moves in a French Defense 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 we get our main position.
7 Challenges

Development

The most basic idea of the opening, or the beginning phase of a chess game, is to develop all your pieces so that they are ready to form a good team and can outplay the opponent's forces.
12 Challenges

Development, time and tempo

Development, time and tempo are all closely related and often are just different words for the same thing. Development means moving your pieces from their beginning positions to active central posts. Time means using your move to accomplish some goal, the development of a piece or the correct conduct of an attack. For example, if you waste a move by using only one or two pieces over and over again in the opening, you will be chastened for wasting time. The same phenomena in the middlegame might be good though if you can improve the position of your pieces with tempo. This means without losing time, e.g. you would not lose time if you activated your knight by checking the king or driving back your opponent's pieces. Tempo is a unit of time as measured by one move. Each individual move you have is called a tempo. One tempo or a group of tempi give you the time to get your pieces developed.
8 Challenges

Silman's Pawn Pointing Theory

When the center is locked up by pawns leading to a closed position, both sides must seek their play on the wings.
6 Challenges

Basic Opposition

Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what the opposition is.
1 Challenge

Rectangular Opposition

The opposition is an invisible device that enables one King to become stronger than its opposite number.
3 Challenges

Basic Diagonal Opposition

Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what diagonal opposition is.
2 Challenges

Distant Diagonal Opposition

Though there are no pieces or pawns on the board (which means the game will be a draw), we can still use this bare-bones situation to illustrate what distant diagonal opposition is.
3 Challenges

Basic Triangulation

This is a problem designed to teach you the concept of basic triangulation. In this problem use triangulation (mixed with opposition) to win the game for White.
14 Challenges

King and pawn versus King

King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely.
9 Challenges

Outside Passed Pawn

Though material is even, White wins easily because he owns the outside passed pawn.
8 Challenges

The Square of the Pawn

Sometimes a game comes down to a simple race between a King and a pawn. Can the King stop the pawn from promoting? Is a long calculation necessary to figure out the answer?
4 Challenges

King and Rook pawn versus King

Pawns on the a-file and h-files form a host of exceptions to many endgame rules because the defending King can't be forced to step beyond the boundaries of the board.
2 Challenges

Black's King reaches f1, g1 or h1 by force!

It may seem silly to have a battle between two Kings but this is actually a very difficult problem which even strong masters have trouble solving.
17 Challenges

King and Rook-pawn versus King

In King and pawn versus King positions, White can often win if his King gets in front of his pawn.
4 Challenges

King and Rook-pawn versus King and Rook-pawn

White is going to win Black's pawn by force but Black would draw anyway if his King could reach a7, b7, c7, c8, b8 or a8. White won't allow that to happen, though, so White will win the game.
3 Challenges

King and two doubled pawns versus lone King

White always wins if he is two pawns up unless these pawns are Rook-pawns. The way to victory is to pretend you don't have that extra pawn until it is needed to use up a move and give you the opposition.
5 Challenges

King and tripled Rook-pawns versus King

Normally White will win if he is two pawns up (even if they are doubled). However, if these doubled or even tripled pawns are Rook-pawns the it's more complicated.
4 Challenges

King and two pawns versus King

White will always win when he has two pawns to none in a King and pawn endgame unless both pawns are doubled Rook-pawns.
5 Challenges

King and two disconnected passers vs. King

When you are two pawns up, disconnected passed pawns are always winning unless one can be taken and the defending King can get back in time to stop the other one from promoting.
4 Challenges

King and two disconnected passed pawns vs. King

In the present situation the Black King proves up to the task and manages to eat both units.
3 Challenges

King and pawn vs. King and pawn

When each side has one pawn left the result depends on King position.
4 Challenges

King and two pawns vs. King and pawn

This position can be explained in the following simple way: if White can win the e6-pawn he will get the victory.
5 Challenges

King and two pawns vs. King and one

White usually wins when he has two pawns to his opponent's one, even when his pawns are disconnected.
6 Challenges

King and two pawns versus King and pawn

In the present example, White is cursed in two different ways.
4 Challenges

King and two doubled pawns vs. King and pawn

Doubled pawns (with the enemy pawn on the same or adjacent file) will often win for White unless, of course, a Rook-pawn is on the board (and in this case, Knight-pawns will also cause difficulties).
11 Challenges

King and doubled pawns vs. King and pawn

This position is drawn because all the pawns are Knight-pawns and the Black Knight-pawn is still on the second rank.
3 Challenges

King and doubled pawns vs. King and one

If Black's King couldn't advance to an active square then White would win easily but, because the Black King will end up on a superior square, the draw should not be hard to prove.
3 Challenges

King and three pawns vs. King and three pawns

Black to play would draw easily by 1...g6 (White would be the one fighting for the draw due to Black's superior King position.
3 Challenges

Tactical pawn endgame

It seems that White is in trouble. Black has a passed a-pawn that will eventually turn into a Queen while White's pawn majority on the queenside is firmly blocked by the two Black pawns.
3 Challenges

King and two pawns vs. lone King

White has two extra pawns, which is always supposed to be decisive. However, one is a rook pawn, which always makes any endgame sticky. How can White force the win?
9 Challenges

Center Pawn on the Seventh vs. Queen

If the queen's king can get close to the pawn the win becomes trivial.
16 Challenges

Queen vs. King and Rook pawn on the seventh

One of the exceptions to the rule that a queen will always beat a passed pawn on the seventh rank is the case of the rook pawn.
4 Challenges

Rook pawn vs. Queen and close King

If the superior side's king can get fairly close to the opponent's pawn, the game can be won.
7 Challenges

Queen vs. Bishop Pawn

A surprising fact enables Black to draw this game.
5 Challenges

Bishops of opposite colors in a middlegame

Bishops of opposite colors are considered drawish beasts in an endgame and useful attacking pieces in a middlegame.
2 Challenges

Opposite colored Bishops and one pawn vs. none

White is a pawn ahead, which is only one square away from queening. However, Black's bishop is waiting to snip it off, if it dares to stumble ahead.
3 Challenges

Opposite colored Bishops endgame advice

Black is a pawn down, and, to make matters worse, his king is far away from the battle while White's is right there in the midst of things.
3 Challenges

Opposite colored Bishops with two extra pawns

Two extra pawns usually win in most positions but opposite colored Bishops may make things difficult.
2 Challenges

Bishops of opposite colors. How to advance pawns

White should win. However, it is important to remember that passed pawns in bishop endings should be pushed to squares of the opposite color of your bishop.
9 Challenges

Lucena Position

This position was analyzed hundreds of years ago and now is recognized as the key to any and all rook endgames.
7 Challenges

Philidor's Position

This position is the second most important in rook endgames, the Lucena position being first.
7 Challenges

The passive Rook

Black's rook is passively trapped on the back rank, which, coupled with White's extra pawn, leads to Black's demise. It's almost never a good idea to allow your rook to become passive like this!
5 Challenges

Rooks Belong Behind Passed Pawns!

A rook belongs behind a passed pawn, no matter whose passed pawn it is! This problem demonstrates the tremendous difference in the result depending on who gets her rook behind the passed pawn first.
3 Challenges

Rook behind the passed pawn

Once White gets her rook behind the passed pawn, the game is as good as over.
12 Challenges

(Active) Rook and Pawn Ending

Black can easily draw this position, because the Black rook is behind the passed pawn, which has incapacitated the White rook, and the pawn is on the seventh rank.
3 Challenges

The Deadly skewer

If the White rook can move out of the corner, Black is in serious trouble. Here White wants to employ a tactical motive to free the rook.
3 Challenges

Bishop and Rook Pawn of Wrong Color

One of the great injustices in chess is that a bishop and rook-pawn versus a lone king is not always a win.
2 Challenges

Same Color Bishops

Black can make the draw clear by transposing into a well-known drawing scenario.
6 Challenges

Bishop and Pawn vs. Lone King

The win is simple if the pawn promotes on the same color of the bishop.
3 Challenges

Bishop and center-pawn vs. lone King

Bishop and pawn versus lone king always wins, if you don't have the tricky situation of a rook-pawn queening on the opposite color of your bishop.
3 Challenges

Knight and rook-pawn vs. lone King

A Knight and pawn always win against a lone king, unless the pawn is a rook-pawn on the seventh rank.
1 Challenge

Knight and rook-pawn on the sixth

In the present case the extra pawn and knight win quickly and without effort.
3 Challenges

Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle

Misc
85 Lessons
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529 Challenges
Released December 5, 2007
59,401 Students