Learn to master most tricky endgames

6/13/2011 – Endgames with kings and pawns may seem like just a matter of counting. But very often they are not! Kasparov once said that he found exactly this type of endgames the hardest to analyse. On his new Powerplay DVD Daniel King deals with the fundamentals of pawn endgames and manages to explain them "in a down to the earth manner", as GM Steingrimsson put it. Buy it now or read more.

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Daniel King Power Play 15: Practical pawn endgames

Review by GM Hedinn Steingrimsson

The topic of this DVD is pawn endgames. It is the 15th in a series of DVDs where GM King explains various different chess themes. It is quite fascinating how many different facetts chess has and I am sure, that there are many DVDs to come. King and pawn endgames are quite tricky. There is not much material left and thus every single mistake can be the last one. In fact in the game that I liked most on this DVD, Ree – Ftacnik, Kiev 1978, GM Ftacnik changed a winning position to a loosing one with just one apparently, on the surface, natural move:


Ree-Ftacnik (Kiev 1978)
Black to move and win - but after 56...g5? Ftacnik was hit by 57.g4!

It is quite instructive to see how he should have played to win the game. It is thus not surprising, that Kasparov once said, that king and pawn endgames were the ones that he felt most difficult to analyse. Here, however, the focus is on building solid knowledge foundations of king and pawn endgames. I quite like the way GM King presents this topic. He starts with showing some test positions, which get the audience to think about king and pawn endgames and undoublty some questions will pop up.

In the next part of the DVD GM King explains the basic themes of king and pawn endings using both well known examples and also some of his own games. After going through these for someone that has seen them before apparently rather simple, but very important examples, the audience will no doubt have picked up quite useful knowledge and gotten some of the questions that popped up answered and thus without really noticing it has learned the key to solving even the most difficult test positions.

One of the main strengths of this DVD is that GM King explains the fundamental examples in a very down to the earth and understandable manner. Now there are always ways to explain even the simplest things in a manner, that makes them unbelievably complicated, but that is definitely not the case here.

Click here for replay a sampler.

Among the themes discussed are: to get the king higher up the board, space advantage, move the pawns higher up the board, waiting moves or reserve tempi that force the opponent‘s king to give ground for one‘s king both pawn moves and triangulation, the importance of queening with check to name a few. An attentive reader will notice that some of the more advanced king and pawn endgames themes like corresponding squares are not touched upon. This theme can however become quite theoretical. I remember that GM Jonathan Speelman once wrote an interesting book on this theme, but I guess that although interesting, this kind of advanced king and pawn endgames are rather rare in practise.

The bottom line:

Quite good DVD where the target audience is club players. I recommend it specially to young players that want to build up solid endgame knowledge foundations. The way the theme is presented is quite good. Although more experienced players will probably know some of the fundamental examples that GM King presents, I am sure that they will also learn a thing or two and find answering the test positions easier after having watched the fundamentals.

Practical pawn endgames by GM King gets 4 out of 5 possible stars. The concept is quite good and the material is presented in an understandable manner.


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