Vlado Kovacevic: Chess Endgames (7 books)
World chess literature abounds in numerous works in which the rich chess experience accumulated over the centuries has been systematically presented. Due to a richness of possibilities and the brilliancy of combinations, the attention of most authors has been centred on the theory of openings and the middle game. Only a relatively small number of works belongs to the theory of the chess endgames.
Perhaps because of this, and also due to the wrong approach in the training of the young players, many players have considered the chess endgames as less important, as something unpleasant that cannot be avoided from time to time. The truth, however, is quite different! Chess endgames hide the most profound secrets of chess! The thorough knowledge of the endgame directly determines the horizons of our chess culture.
Not only beginners but also chess coaches and already established players feel the constant need to perfect their endgame technique. There are many reasons for this. I will confine myself to the three reasons that I consider of paramount importance. These are pedagogical, strategical and temporal reasons!
The essence and principles of chess
The essence of the game of chess is governed by dialectical principles whereby no «law» is absolute or permanent. The knowledge and understanding of the tactical complexity of individual pieces is absolutely essential. One assimilates new knowledge by adopting the proven didactic axioms «from the easier to the more difficult», from the «simple to the more complex«. Hence, the most natural way to discover, learn and completely understand the chess game must start with the study of the simplest endgames. This initial knowledge is a cornerstone on which the future chess foundation will be erected. The significance of a «tempo». The role of the pawn structure and its influence on the activity of the chess pieces. The better positioning of the king. These are all essential elements that stand out especially in this stage of the game.
The average reader undoubtedly knows that the chess game consists of three parts: openings, middle-game and endgames. In the opening stage of the game the player tries to deploy his pieces as harmoniously as possible. This will facilitate his task in the middle-game to dominate space and gain a material advantage – a first step towards victory. This advantage rarely comes to realization in the middle game. A player achieves it during the transposition to the endgame or in the endgame itself, usually with very little time remaining on the clock.
A player of a broad chess culture, knowledgeable of and conversant with basic chess principles, elementary endgames and the more important typical positions, will have less difficulty in making the right strategical decisions in these critical moments, thus creating preconditions for a decisive advantage, or a transposition to a favourable endgame. If he cannot convert his positional advantage into victory, he may try exchanging his «weak» pieces for the opponents «strong» pieces. At the same time gaining space and time – thus crowning his superior strategy.
The importance of endgame mastery
The mastery of the endgames is vital in contemporary chess due to the ever faster rate of play. In the «old days», the games were being adjourned. The player had both the time (till the next morning!) and help of chess literature. Consequently, chess player could excellently prepare for the resumption of the game.
Nowadays, however, you must have this knowledge on the spot. The Latin adage «omnia mea mecum porto« could not be more appropriate. There are no adjournments any more, the game finishes in the first and only, uninterrupted session. The knowledge and confidence in one’s endgame technique triumph, all the rest conduces to disappointment and defeat.
These seven books present a lot of material. The systematic revelation of chess secrets to the attentive and ambitious reader! They can serve as a guide not only for the beginners and young and talented players. The author hopes it may also be used as a manual by chess coaches. As well as a valuable source of reference for top-level players. In short, these books are for all those who are aware of the importance of the chess endgames and wish to improve their technique and broaden their chess horizons.