Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Endgame Studies...Really?

Why on earth would we want to solve endgame studies to improve our chess skills?

Well...this is not exactly a theoretical novelty and I am not exactly the first one to talk about that...
In fact, the famous chess trainer Mark Dvorestsky advocates quite heavily solving endgame studies to improve our Chess skills in his book "Secrets of Chess Training".

So what's the big deal about endgame studies?

There are a number of reasons why those are so useful for your chess development and your over-the-board (OTB) skills:
  • Improves your calculation skills: Endgame studies often require accurate and lengthy calculation.
  • Enriches your tactical imagination: Endgame studies often feature usual or imaginative ideas or unexpected solutions to common problems. They also favor non straightforward patterns or means to achieve a surprising outcome.
  • Get to know each piece better: Solving Endgame studies will show you on a different light the pieces you thought you knew. Knights' forks, Bishops' double attacks and rooks' short moves will keep you awake at night!
  • (Re)-Discover how a set of pieces can really work together: The bishop pair or the knights duo will shine differently when you see them in action! Discover how the rook and knight team can be devastating against the (not-so-often) powerless queen.
  • Get use to material imbalance: A lot of endgame studies feature unconventional material balances: NNB vs. Q, BB vv. RR, etc: this will help you getting used to unusual material imbalance and also help you wrestle your way out of tricky situations or, on the contrary, baffle your opponents with surprising sacrifices. All in all, you will be more confident in your ability to navigate in muddy waters and find either the decisive move or the saving one!
  • Strengthen your intuition: Being exposed to so many unusual and unconventional ideas will broaden your intuition and help you come up with imaginative solutions during your own games
...and, best of all, they are fun!

To wrap this up, below is a well-know, yet amazing, study from Alexey Troitsky who "is considered to have been one of the greatest composers of chess endgame studies. He is widely regarded as the founder of the modern art of composing chess studies" (Wikipedia).

More to come on this topic in the following weeks.

Finally, I cannot resist to show you a great and entertaining game demonstrating, once again, the power of the bishop pair: Ravinski - Panov, it should make your day!

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