The endgame (from the German. Endspiel - "end of the game") - the final part of a chess or checker game.
It is not always possible to draw a border separating the middle of a chess game ( middlegame ) from the end (endgame). Usually the game goes into the endgame when most of the pieces are exchanged and there are no threats to the kings characteristic of the middle of the game. The absence of queens on the board is not an obligatory sign of the endgame (see, for example, the article “ Queens endings ”). The endings with a strategic plan are to organize an attack on the king and complete it with obscenities , with rare exceptions they are elementary (see the article “ Technical endings ”). Most often, in the endgame, another strategic goal arises - to hold a pawn in the queens in order to get the material advantage necessary for winning.
The endgame is characterized by the following main features. The king in the endgame is an active figure. Not fearing, as a rule, the threat of a mat , he can leave the shelter and take part in the fight along with other figures; he is able to attack the opponent’s pieces and pawns and be the first to invade the enemy camp.
With a small number of pieces on the board in the endgame, the value of each of them increases. In the middle of the game, the creation of a decisive superiority of forces on any part of the board is often sufficient to win; to play the endgame correctly means to ensure maximum activity and clear interaction of the pieces .
The strategic goal of the endgame - holding one of the pawns in the queens - determines the increasing role of pawns.
If in the middle of the game the preponderance of one of the partners as one pawn usually does not play a decisive role, then in the endgame it is in many cases sufficient to win.
In the middle of the game, the plan is often determined not only by the features of the position, but also by the style of the opponents' game, psychological calculation, etc. At the end, you have to choose a path that is characteristic of a particular type of endgame, since only it leads to the achievement of the goal.
In the endgame, the strategy (choosing the right plan) is largely determined by such features of the position as:
- material advantage;
- the presence of passing pawns or the possibility of their formation;
- defects in the pawn structure;
- the degree of activity of the figures, including the king ;
- and other.
Since the degree of activity of the pieces largely depends on the pawn location, the role of the coordination of the location of the pieces and pawns increases: pawns should not interfere with the action of the pieces. When activating your pieces, you must simultaneously push the opponent’s pieces and limit their mobility. In the endgame, the presence of pawn weakness is of particular importance: the figures forced to defend them become passive and lose strength. The result of the correct strategy in the endgame is often the achievement of zugzwang positions.
Since there are fewer pieces and pawns in the endgame than in the middle of the game, it is easier to classify and study. The development of chess was accompanied by an analysis of the many positions of the endgame: the best plans for the game of the parties were found in them, the final result was precisely established. Thus, the role of knowledge, that is, theory, is increasing in the endgame. In essence, many of the theoretical positions of the endgame are logical tasks, often having a single solution. For better orientation in the numerous positions of the endgame, their classification is developed depending on the quantity and quality of available forces. See articles:
- " Pawn endings ";
- " Horse endings ";
- " Elephant endings ";
- " Mixed endings ";
- " Elephant against a horse ";
- “ Rook against a lightweight ”;
- " Queen against the rook ";
- “ Queen against a light piece ”;
- " Heavy figure endings ";
- " Rook endings ";
- " Opposition ."
The endgame theory has more than a thousand-year history. Chess inherited the first endgame positions from satranja , for example, the position analyzed by Zairab Katai. Studied and published many positions from the practical parties and analyzes that laid the foundation for the theory of endgame. In these positions, the most effective methods of attack and defense are established, the final results are determined with the correct game on both sides. The number of studied endings, called "theoretical", is constantly growing. On their basis, common game techniques in various types of endgames, characteristic methods of attack, defense, elementary rules that help to quickly evaluate one or another endgame are revealed. Typical positions are also distinguished for certain types of endings, the knowledge of which helps practicing chess players to study the endgame.
Among the many researchers of the theory of endgame stand out D. Ponziani , Ercole del Rio , A. Salvio , J. Kling , B. Gorvits , B. Guretsky-Kornits, L. Centurini, 3. Tarrash , M. Karstedt, F. Duran, K. Salvioli , T. Laza , F. Amelung . A special merit belongs to F. A. Filidor , the author of the study “Analysis of a chess game” (2nd edition, 1777 ), which largely determined the further development of the endgame theory. The classic work of I. Berger - “Theory and practice of the endgame” ( 1890 ) - one of the first major works entirely devoted to endings, has not lost its significance for modern chess theory. Further valuable monographs devoted to the endgame were published by A. Sharon , R. Fine , M. Euwe , M. Chernyak , S. Gavlikovsky , E. Paoli , G. Shtalberg , E. Mednis . The development of the theory of the endgame was continued by the editors of the Informator in the publication Encyclopedia of the Endgame:
- Volume 1 ( 1982 ) is entirely devoted to pawn endings;
- 2nd volume ( 1985 ) - rook;
- 3rd volume ( 1987 ).
Russian and especially Soviet chess players made a valuable contribution to the endgame research: A. Petrov , K. Yanish , S. Urusov , M. Chigorin , N. Grigoryev , V. Rauzer , V. Chekhover , G. Kasparyan , I. Mayzelis , N. Kopaev , I. Rabinovich , M. Botvinnik , G. Levenfish , V. Smyslov , P. Keres , Yu. Averbakh , V. Sozin , G. Lisitsyn , R. Kholmov , M. Dvoretsky , V. Khenkin . In the mid -1950s, a collective work was published in 3 volumes - “ Chess Finishings, ” which surpassed all previous endgame works in terms of material coverage (about 3 thousand examples) and breadth of analysis. The 2nd edition, amended and supplemented, consists of 5 volumes and was completed in 1984 .
The theory of the endgame was significantly enriched by Soviet and foreign chess composers, who presented various endgame ideas in art form in their works (sketches of A. Troitsky , L. Kubbel , brothers Vasily and Mikhail Platovs , A. Rink , brothers K. and Y. Betinsha , G. Matison , R. Reti , V. Koschek, V. Halberstadt , J. Moravec, F. Prokop, C. Dedrle, L. Prokes , O. Duras , R. Fontana, A. Sheron, M. Liburkin , A. Gurvich , V. Chekhover, N. Kopaev, G. Kasparyan, G. Zakhodyakin , V. Bron , M. Zinar , G. Nadareishvili , D. Gurgenidze ). Among the outstanding chess players of the past, the mastery of playing the endings was primarily distinguished by Em. Lasker , A. Alekhine , A. Rubinstein , G. Maroci, and especially X. R. Capablanca ; among modern ones - M. Botvinnik , V. Smyslov , R. Fisher , A. Karpov .
If the players only have kings , none of them can checkmate even with the worst game of the opponent. In fact, if one of the players wants to declare a check , he must put his king next to the king of the opponent. But then under the check will be the king of the player who made the move, which is against the rules. Consequently, none of the players can declare a check to the opponent, and therefore, checkmate.
In the three-figure endgame, one of the players has a king and one more piece, the other has only a king. For definiteness, we can assume that White has an extra piece and does not consider trivial cases when Black moves, and with this move they can take a white piece.
If the extra piece is heavy ( queen or rook ), then White wins (see checkmate queen , checkmate rook ). If both opponents play correctly, the queen is checked in no more than 10 moves, and the rook - in no more than 15.
If the extra piece is light ( bishop or knight ), then White cannot win even with Black's worst game. In fact, suppose the black king is in the corner. For the mat under the blow of white there should be an angular field on which the black king stands, and three neighboring ones. Of these four fields, two are white and two are black. Since all the fields under the strike of a light piece are of the same color, under the strike of the white king there must be either both white fields or both black. To do this, he must stand on one of the four fields indicated, which is against the rules.
King and Pawn versus King
For more details see the article “ The King and the Pawn Against the King ”.
If the extra piece is a pawn , the position can be won for White or drawn. There is no simple rule, generally determining the outcome of a game, no simple winning algorithm for white or draw for black. In some positions, the order of the move is important, and White’s move leads to a draw, and Black’s move leads to White’s victory ( mutual zugzwang ).
The following rules and concepts are important (for definiteness, we believe that if Black can take a white pawn, they always do that).
- A pawn square is a square whose two adjacent vertices are the field where the pawn is located and the field of its transformation. For example, if the pawn is on “d6”, the pawn squares are (“d6”, “d8”, “f6”, “f8”) and (“d6”, “d8”, “b6”, “b8”). If during the move of White the black king is outside the pawn square, the pawn can pass without the help of his king and White wins.
- If the pawn is located on the initial horizontal (2nd for white, 7th for black), the pawn square is as if the pawn was on the next horizontal (3rd for white, 6th for black). The reason is that the first move the pawns can do 2 fields forward.
- If Black places his king directly in front of the white pawn (for example, the white pawn on “e4”, the black king on “e5”), they can achieve a draw. To do this, they must continue to place their king directly in front of the white pawn, if this is impossible - at a distance of 2 in front of the white pawn, if this is also impossible - at a distance of 2 in front of the white king.
- If the pawn is a rook (on the vertical “a” or “h”) and Black has placed his king on any field in front of the white pawn (for example, the white pawn on “a4”, the black king on “a7”), they can also achieve a draw. To do this, they must continue to place their king on any field in front of the white pawn, and if this is impossible, make any move.
- If the white king takes control of the transformation field (that is, is next to it), and the pawn is protected by the white king, White wins.
- The white king should move ahead of the pawn, and not behind it.
Three pieces versus one.
For definiteness, we believe that White has two extra pieces and White’s move.
If White has at least one heavy piece, they win.
If White has two bishops, they also win in no more than 18 moves (see checkmate with two bishops ), except in the extremely rare case when the bishops are unisex. In this case, however, White cannot even put a cooperative checkmate .
If White has an elephant and a horse, they win in no more than 33 moves (see checkmate with an elephant and a horse ), except for a small number of positions when White loses a light piece, for example, due to a fork.
If White has two knights, when Black plays correctly, they cannot win, except for a very small number of positions when a checkmate is made in one move (see checkmate with two knights ). However, a cooperative mat is possible. It is interesting that if White has two knights, and Black has a pawn, then White can sometimes win.
If White has a light piece and a pawn, then, with the exception of the case when Black takes a pawn before White has time to defend it or lead it to the queens, White almost always wins. It is important that if the defending piece is behind the pawn, the black king cannot take it, otherwise White will draw the pawn. In addition, the bishop can be set so that the bishop and the pawn protect each other.
Two pawns usually win. For example:
- leading one pawn, it is possible to ensure that the black king leaves the pawn square of another pawn or moves away from it enough for the white king to come to her aid;
- if one pawn defends another, this position is stable. The black king cannot take the defending pawn, since then White will draw another pawn.
Two pieces versus two
In this section, for definiteness, it is believed that White has a stronger piece. In this sense, the queen is stronger than the rook, the rook is stronger than the light piece, the light piece is stronger than the pawn.
Trivial cases are not considered when one of the players can checkmate or take the opponent’s piece directly or through a bundle , fork or through check (the first move is beneficial).
- The queen versus the queen is usually a draw. There are a small number of positions when one of the players can win during his turn or even during the opponent’s turn.
- Queen against the rook - if Black does not have an immediate eternal check , White wins. With an optimal game of black, victory is difficult. So, in 1977, programmer Ken Thompson invited chess players, playing for whites, to win a computer in this position. Hans Berliner (ex-world champion in correspondence) and Lawrence Day (champion of Canada) tried to play against the computer. Neither one nor the other were able to achieve victory  . In the optimal game of opponents, White takes a rook or checkmates in no more than 32 moves  . Blacks can use the "third-line defense", which is difficult to overcome for a person.
- Queen against a light piece - White easily wins. Winning is achieved by pushing the king to the edge of the board.
- Queen versus pawn - as a rule, White wins. If the pawn has one move left before the transformation, the white king is far enough away from it, the black king is close, and the pawn is rook or bishop (verticals “a”, “c”, “f” or “h”), then Black manages to draw. If, under these conditions, the pawn is horse or center (verticals “b”, “d”, “e”, “g”), White wins, driving the opponent’s king onto the field in front of the pawn, bringing his king closer and repeating this many times. Several draw positions are also known when a pawn (bishop) has 2 moves left before the transformation.
- A rook against a rook is almost always a draw, but victory is sometimes possible if the opponent’s king is on the edge of the board and is threatened with an immediate checkmate.
- A rook against a lightweight is usually a draw.
- A rook against a knight - there are winning positions for whites when the knight is far from the king  .
- Rook against the bishop - blacks reach a draw by going into a corner unattainable for the bishop (white if the bishop is dark-squared and vice versa). There are winning positions for white when the black king is locked in the wrong corner  .
- A rook against a pawn (see  ,  ) - the outcome depends on the position of all four pieces.
- Lightweight versus lightweight is a draw. In case both light figures are elephants, and same-sex, a cooperative mat is also impossible. In other cases, it is possible.
- The bishop against the pawn is usually a draw, except in trivial cases when the pawn obviously passes. White sets the bishop so that the field in front of the pawn is blocked by an elephant or under battle, and they fail the king.
- Knight versus pawn - sometimes White manages to draw, sometimes he fails.
- Pawn versus pawn - the outcome depends on the position of all four pieces.
Resulting Endgame Tables Without Pawns
|Strong side||Weak side||Game outcome||Difficulty rating|
|Win||Not easy for the strongest side, with optimal play on both sides, 31 moves are required to win the rook|
|Draw||Just for the defender if he directs the king to the right angle|
|Draw||Just for the defender, if he holds the horse next to his king, and the horse does not fall on the "field of death" at the corners of the board|
|Draw||Not easy, but achievable for the defender, if he applies the protection of Cochran|
|Draw||Just for the defender, since the advantage in the horse is not enough to win|
|Draw||It’s easy if you build the right fortress, to break which the queen will need more than 50 moves|
|Win||Easy to win the strongest side|
|Draw||Just for the defender, as two horses protect each other|
|Draw||It is difficult for the defender, a horse in such a situation can create a decisive advantage|
- Endgame tables of Nalimov
- Chess endings (series of books)
- Endgame tables of Nalimov | Chessgames.ru (inaccessible link) . Date of treatment March 18, 2014. Archived March 18, 2014.
- Müller, Karsten; Lamprecht, Frank (2001), Fundamental Chess Endings, Gambit Publications, ISBN 1-901983-53-6
- Can a rook win against a knight in the endgame? - Chess Stack Exchange
- How a rook vs bishop (no pawns) ending can be won
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