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Endgame Strategy (Cadogan Chess Books) Paperback – April 1, 1994
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Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I could probably stop the review right there. But, I will add that while nothing is dumbed down here, neither is any of it inaccessible or beyond the reach or ability of any decent player who is seriously serious about improving. This is a book you will want to go back to frequently to refresh your understanding - it is that good and that valuable. I would never part with my copy.
A lot of good players that are fine in the openings and middle game seem to lose their way right before they get to the critical endgame. This book shows you why a seemingly innocent, and apparently innocuous move made very early on was the key focal or pivot point that resulted in a lost endgame some twenty or thirty moves later. The basic principles are broken down in specific chapters that include multiple example games to illustrate. The games start from a diagram position (no opening moves, but I was able to easily find most of these games in complete form in a chessbase database) and then all the moves thereafter all the way to the end are provided.
It seems at this point worth mentioning the obvious. This is not an end game manual. It is far better than that! Being able to know during middle game where to occupy your pieces, what to exchange or not exchange, what the critical squares are, etc. WITH A VIEW TOWARDS ENDGAME, is invaluable in setting up a winning strategy. In that context I think this book is the proper place to start your study of endgame.
I quickly read through and played out the game in the very short first chapter. Looked simple enough... and I was tempted to flip the page and get onto the next chapter. But, hold on. What if Black had played a different move in response to Capablanca's Nd4? I checked the computer and sure enough Stockfish 7 made a different move! So, then I played out THAT ending against the computer... and lost! So, what had I really learned if I could not play out the game with a slightly different reply to the position from the book? I obviously had some more work to do! Here is my takeaway - It would be a mistake to passively read this sort of a book in two or three days with the intent of just skimming for general principles. For my own peace of mind, I ended up playing out that first endgame a dozen or more times against a strong computer program trying different moves before I finally worked out for myself what the correct approach should be... and WHY. I had to do the hard work myself, but it paid off and I finally "got it". Actually it was fun. I enjoyed the challenge.
Playing out each of the games (several times) and reading the complete annotations (including the unfavorable lines you should avoid) is highly instructive. Check out Miller-Weltmander (Izhevsk 1949) (page 14). The author observes, "A curious situation. The black bishop and the two pawns prove no weaker than the white rooks." What might have been true in middle game no longer applied now in endgame. Lesson learned.
Obviously it is going to take a long time to wade through this book in a detailed manner. I spent a few hours on just the first three pages of chapter one(!), but it seems the best approach for this sort of learning experience. Take it slow and go back and rework the games several times until you are comfortable with the takeaway. If you don't like spending hours and hours solving and resolving chess problems then this book is not for you.... actually if that is true then maybe the game of chess itself is not for you?! But for those ambitious players who want to improve this is a good place to start. Again, I would not be too concerned about whether this book is appropriate or not for lower rated players. If you do the work it will pay off.
The only other thing to consider is that I was able to get a brand new copy of this book for less than $7. At that price this has got to be the chess book bargain of the century! There is simply no reason to pass this up! Just buy it!
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I myself got it, with no regrets.Read more