Study The Endgame

topic posted Thu, December 4, 2008 - 8:43 PM by  Cuindless
I said it before in the "5 Ways to Improve Your Game" post, and I'll say it again here: Studying the opening yields short term gains only. Yes, studying the endgame is important. Bobby Fischer reportedly spent over 15 hours a day memorizing openings. That's because he already had a masterful understanding of end and middle games. World Chess Champion Jose Raul Capablanca said it best:

“In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else, for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame”

And he's not the only one. International Masters and Grand Masters alike have all said the same thing.

“Openings teach you openings. Endgames teach you chess!”
(Stephan Gerzadowicz)

“After a bad opening, there is hope for the middle game. After a bad
middle game, there is hope for the endgame. But once you are
in the endgame, the moment of truth has arrived”
(Edmar Mednis)

"Studying openings is just memorizing moves and looking for traps. Studying the endgame is chess."
(Josh Waitzkin)

"Studying the endgame is like cheating."
(Michael J. Frannett)

Here's why: In my early chess studies, I focused on openings almost to the exclusion of all else. This means that I usually transitted to the middlegame up a pawn or even two. Sometimes I was up a whole piece. After move 9, though, I was in uncharted territory. Having made no study of the middlegame, I tended to blunder by move 15 or so. When I finally made a study of the middlegame, I started blundering away the endgame.

One of the biggest complaints of chess amateurs, myself included, is the difficulty we have in creating a clear strategy. This can only be done by understanding the difference between a winning endgame, a drawn endgame and a losing endgame. Like Capablanca said, all other aspects of the game are studied in relation to the endgame. This is the reason, above all else, that the aspiring chess player should study the endgame first.
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  • Unsu...
    I just want to support you on this. I've made my position on endgames pretty clear previously. This is definitely the most important--and often the most neglected part of the game.

    The trick, though, is to get to a competitive endgame scenario, and that's where all of that gambit business comes in handy. I can't believe how often I've had to scramble for a win, or draw, because my middle game is so sketchy. But because so many players at my level work so hard on openings and combinations, to the detriment of their endgames, they have a hard time closing the deal with me.

    The endgame is chess reduced to its essence.

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