Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual - ChessBase edition

by Albert Silver
8/3/2015 – In the ChessBase catalogue, it is understandable to be attracted and curious about the latest and greatest products, but some items, even many years old, just never lose their luster or value. The biggest problem is knowing what those are. Among them, one of the absolute greatest is the ChessBase version of Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual, a book that is rightly considered a modern classic.

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There are many top notch authors and teachers, but one of the most famous is the Russian Mark Dvoretsky. In one of his books, he describes his trek from player to coach, and comments that in spite of being 'only' an International Master, he could easily have gone for the full grandmaster title. For some players, this might seem like braggadocio, but Dvoretsky is actually being quite modest, since in 1976, FIDE had him ranked as high as world no. 39.

After coaching and helping develop players such as Artur Yussupov and Sergey Dolmatov, both of whom qualified for the World Championship Candidates matches, his success in his method was no longer in doubt, and players around the world could only wish to have access to it. Over the last couple of decades he has authored numerous advanced books on training techniques, all successful, but the book that no one can seem to get enough of is his famous Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.

The book came out in English in 2003, and was a smash hit as far as endgame manuals go, but more remarkably, a digital version especially adapted to ChessBase software was developed and released the very same year. It exploited many unique aspects of the format, that made the software version superior in more ways than one. Why review an item that is now about 12 years old, especially considering the book is now in its fourth edition? Quite simply because it has not only lost none of its magic, and is as brilliant today as it was when it was first released.

In his introduction Dvoretsky is quick to clarify a few important points on terminology. This is a 'manual', not a 'handbook'. The difference is that "In a handbook, a solution of a position is all one needs; in a manual, one should explain how one can discover the correct solution, and which ideas are involved." The point is clear: this is a work designed to teach a player the basics, and beyond, of the endgame.

The world-renowned trainer Mark Dvoretsky reassures the student that the task of acquiring
a solid basis in endgames is not nearly as hard as one might fear

Downloading and installing the ebook is a matter of seconds. For one thing, for all purposes, this is an ebook, not a Fritz trainer. There are no videos, not one: it is a work you are expected to sit down with, read, and study, but in spite of this, it is much less scary than it sounds, even for the congenitally lazy.

The ebook is essentially a database, divided in order with text files and game files. In the introduction, the author explains how it is organized and how best to make use of the material. All of the special ChessBase features are made use of: medals in the descriptions to easily find important themes as well as training questions to test you when solving one of the exercises. There are fifteen chapters, each headed by a text file explaining the subject and principles, followed by illustrative positions and game excerpts, all amply commented. Finally you will find a series of Exercises and Solutions to work through.

All the ChessBase features are used to make the most of the digitalization.
This transformation was clearly a labor of love.

The first chapter is by far the longest and beefiest: the pawn endgames, and it makes perfect sense: you cannot hope to correctly simplify from a piece endgame into a pawn endgame if you have no clue where you stand in that pawn endgame. Therefore, that is where you start.

This is a sample text teaching triangulation. This does bring up one quibble: the F10 reference
is actually from versions of ChessBase at the time. Nowadays it should be F11 for next game.

The exercises have all been separated from their solutions, to avoid accidentally see it.
Want to try your hand without the lesson? White to play.

The solution is not going to simply paste the answer for you. You will be tested step-by-step
with training questions.

As can be seen, the overall format is superbly well-suited for studying on a computer, laptop, or Windows tablet, and the price and value cannot be argued. This is one of the greatest endgame manuals ever. One question the reader might ask is regarding the edition. After all, this is based on the first edition, and reading the prefaces of later ones, even the second, which I own, there is talk of corrections. Should you be concerned? Definitely not.

It is important to remember that when the first edition came out in 2003, the top PC program was Shredder 6 (single-core). That is roughly 600 Elo weaker than Komodo 9 running on identical hardware, and let's not forget the access to tablebases on the fly. When in doubt, just run the engine. It will not only clarify any doubts, but answer any questions on moves not analyzed. Still, do remember the purpose here is to grow as a player, so only do this when every leaf has been turned. Here is an example:

[Event "Bad Homburg"] [Site "?"] [Date "1927.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Yates, Frederick"] [Black "Tartakower, Savielly"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/8/1p1k4/pR6/PP6/3q4/1K6 b - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "8"] [Source "ChessCafe/CB"] [SourceDate "2003.10.29"] {Black has a won position. Tartakower decided to transpose into a pawn ending, which he thought was won.} 1... Qxb4 $4 (1... axb3 {is possible}) (1... Qc3 $5 2. Rxb5+ (2. Ka2 Qc2+) (2. bxa4 Qxa3) 2... Kc6 3. bxa4 Qxa3 {is also strong.}) 2. axb4 axb3 3. Kb2 Kc4 4. Ka3 $1 b2 (4... Kc3 {is stalemate.}) 5. Ka2 $1 { Black had missed this move when he traded off his queen. He had hoped to win the b4-pawn and seize the opposition, but miscalculated.} (5. Ka2 {After} Kc3 6. Kb1 Kxb4 7. Kxb2 {the draw is obvious.}) 1/2-1/2

There is nothing wrong with this analysis, just to be clear. However, in the comments above Dvoretsky analyzes one line (completely correctly) and concludes "is also strong". Want some peace of mind on that conclusion?

In seconds, Komodo 9 with tablebases (just the five-piece set) leaves no doubts

It is obvious that having dug up this oldie but goldie from the ChessBase catalogue that the recommendation will be a whole-hearted one. After all, the quality of the material, and the obvious ease-of-use to instantly have the positions set up in front of you, with the chance to enter your own notes, consult an engine, and more, make it a wonderful way to study the book.

You might ask how this compares to Karsten Mueller's equally seminal DVD series on the endgame. Frankly they may purport to teach the same things, but they are quite different. One is essentially a book after all, with all the examples and texts you would expect, while the other is a series of video lectures that are incredibly friendly to digest, but not nearly as exhaustive as this work. Even if you already own Muller's DVDs, this work will complement and supplement them perfectly.

Click here to order Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual in the ChessBase Shop

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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