Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Worth a Damn

Sometimes a poet might wish to be able to write ONE GOOD LINE of poetry before they die.  Me? I have figured out chess:

If I could but understand and learn R vs. R & P endings before I die, I might ACTUALLY be potentially decent at chess--able to ALMOST play acceptable chess!  It's just that easy.


Blogger tanc(happyhippo) said...

Let's see....

Karstedt's rule, Philidor defence, Lucena position, Back rank defence, etc etc..... :)

Looks like poetry might be a better option, dk. J/k.


Wed Jun 02, 02:14:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

In Secrets of rook endings of Nunn all positions are covered. Rote memorization will do the trick.

Wed Jun 02, 12:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@tanc, you understand perfectly. the variations of pawn on a or c files, or f or h files, d or e pawns, on 5th, on 6th, its daunting. then R&P vs. R&P, or R&PP vs. R&PPP, or 4 vs 3 etc.

@temposchlucker. i have mixed feelings to respond. first, hello, its been awhile.

second, my fear is that besides your obviously--by now--more than well known predilection for humor if not keen jibbing, that you ACTUALLY believe, not only believe, but specifically YOU believe that THAT is the answer.

i have been going through Seirawan's Winning Chess Endings because i have the chessBase file; are there alternatives such as Silman or Averbach that could be better? perhaps. or Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.

but the key is to select a set or more like thirty or forty key positions and LEARN them, much as Jacob Aagaard suggests in Excelling at chess, where he, as i recall, told of taking ALL the Nunn rook endings and putting them all into chessbase. Nunn superior? Yes. Checked with Ken Thompson's Endgame database and beyond reproach? Yes. But too much of a flood, yes.

its about selection. YOU always seemed to have a problem making selections, and still do, compensated by a mass approach that in attempting to include all obliviates the many. wormwood is really at his best there. he choses what he does. really. i dont just hear of it, but see it done. see him do it, chugging along smartly.

its NOT that chewing through the Nunn treatise is NOT salutary. it is. but in comparison to an array of training options, what pays the best?

we average or above average 'aspiring club players' need to distribute our time. what is the old saying: 'dont go rebake a loaf of bread, but go bake more loaves.' those other loafs are tactics, classics, other endings, playing, review of losses, planning, etc. there are many.

i want to learn more like forty positions well, than 200 or 400 not so well.

maybe it is a chicken and egg thing, and we say the same. but i think not.

third, as i recall, you have a blitzkrieg approach based on immense effort. i used to be that way. my physical life doesnt afford it. not any more. but this doesnt mean i have given up wanting to TRY to be smart.

and a few positions in R&P vs. R&P or even K&R vs. K&P can be most daunting. after awhile, they all start to become a blur. i admit it--thats my problem.

warmly, david

Wed Jun 02, 08:59:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Hank said...


I don't know if this is useful or not, but I noticed that John Nunn has a new book called "Understanding Chess Endgames" - which he ended up writing as a kind of "primer" and spin-off project while preparing his more encyclopedic "Nunn's Chess Endings" (forthcoming, in multiple volumes). It contains what he sees to be the bare-bones essential 100 endings.

Chris Ward also has a 128 page volume in the Starting Out series, called "Starting Out: Rook Endgames".

I don't have firsthand knowledge of either of those books. They both get high reader ratings on, though with only 5 reviews submitted so far for each book.

There's a good review of the Chris Ward book at Chesscafe - at The review also mentions a number of other canonical books on Rook endings.

There's a very favorable review of the small Nunn book at Chesscafe as well:
NB: There are only about 26 pages on rook endings in the Nunn book.

Hopefully people who actually know the books they are recommending personally will follow up with more trustworthy advice! But in case you weren't aware of these 2 books I thought I'd mention them.

Best regards,

Wed Jun 02, 09:07:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@hank, i really like what you wrote. thank you.

there is always a girl with a nicer house, but less looks, or more looks, but less money. Robert Frost described this in his classic poem, 'The Road Not Taken'.

were i to do it over again, i would get the book you describe, after having read Chernev's Practical Chess Endings, Pandolphini's Endgame Course, and Averbakh's Endgames, Essential Knowledge...

i saw the new Nunn book and indeed loved it.

but at a certain point, a man is married, or well nigh doesnt have to look any more. he has a girl, or the woman her man.

we all want more, better books, more books, but that is my whole point, getting past the urge to shop and acquaire, we do Zen SeShin or just to sit with what we have, not seeking new teachings and teacher, a better temple, nice robes, more great teachings, more books, more knowledge, more, more, more as Goethe so aptly explicated in his faust legend.

but at a certain point, its better to go to a third rate college and get a great education by embracing it, than coast in a first class school filled with the certainty of self importance and future accolates and reCognition.

again, i am reminded of Nunn, and i already have Mueller and Dvoretsky, and Shereshevsky, but, by gosh, now i am trying to read one easy to intermediate book when, in fact, none of it is easy!

to really learn ONE rook ending, what a concept!


Wed Jun 02, 10:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Phaedrus said...

I would advise against an extensive study of these rook endings as a method of improvement. Up to at least a rating of 2000, for playing K+R+p against K+R the following foundation suffice:
1. flawless understanding of the key squares in the K+p VS K endings
2. flawless understanding of the basic Philidor position
3. flawless understanding of the Lucena position.

You will do more than fine with the application of these techniques. All the other stuff is was to complicated to master, and very difficult to remember because the positions lack a clear structure, and the evaluation depends on details 99% that are beyond 99% of the players.

When I was young I tried to study Smyslovs book on rook endings. But often I was even incapable to win a position I had studied extensively against a friend who was rated 200 points higher than me.

Limiting my study of K+R+p Vs K+R to the above positions has proven to be sufficient ever since.

Thu Jun 03, 08:34:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

@phaedrus, you understand exactly! it is to master a handful, truly grasp the few, and focus on other parts of chess.

you said, two years ago, as i recall, the exact same thing about openings, that below expect MANY PUT WAY too much of an emphasis on opening prep, when attacking principles and tactics and planning count for far more. any restating here, by you, what i just said was and will be much appreciated, if you can spare your valuable time outside work and family.

warmest, dk

Thu Jun 03, 10:13:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi David,

You might remember me by my internet name. I agree that this is hard. I always forget which pawn is placed where with some being draw and some not being draw.

I hope to learn these too.

Tue Nov 23, 07:15:00 PM PST  

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