Editor: Brian Gosling


The new position will appear at the beginning of each new month. You are invited to solve it. I will be pleased to receive feedback about the positions and the analysis. The solution will be published the following month with the new position. Some of these positions will come from actual historical games. Others will be composed endgame studies, but they will be relevant to the practical game. The site has over 400 chess endings and endgame studies and and has been running for over eight years.

A database of chess endings
Thanks to Antonio Senatore


Black to play and WIN

FEN:5r2/4b1R1/p3p2p/1p2Pk2/1Pp2P2/P2rBK1P/8/R7 b - - 0 1

It is good training to try initially to solve the endings without the assistance of a chess playing programme.

Solution for the above, plus new position: 1st JUNE 2006.


Vasily Smyslov, (1921- ).  

Soviet International Grandmaster. World Champion 1957-8. Recently Smyslov celebrated his 85th birthday. His was the first new face on the world chess scene after the Second World War and he was to be a World Championship candidate for over four decades ! In the 1950s he had three matches with Botvinnik for the World Championship. He drew the first match (1954), won the second (1957) and lost the third (1958) thus holding the title for just one year. In his endgame play, Smyslov comes close to Capablanca and Rubinstein. To Smyslov both music and chess follow the intangible rules of beauty and harmony. Chess to him was more than a sport or a science but supremely an expression of art.

Smyslov vs Reshevsky

  World Championship

Hague/Moscow 1948 

White to play and WIN

FEN:rn5k/1p2q1p1/pB1pp2p/4p3/4P1Q1/2P3P1/PP3P1P/3R2K1 w - - 0 1:

This game is of great historical interest. It was played in Moscow as part of the match-tournament to decide who would succeed the deceased Alekhine to the World Championship title. The contestants were the Soviets, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, the American, Reshevsky and the former Dutch World Champion, Euwe. In the final phase of the game 2000 spectators were present to see the American champion lose to the new rising star.

In this ending White has an obvious positional plus with the White Rook controlling the semi-open d-file and bearing down on the weakened d-pawn. White seeks to exchange Queens and thus remove the only defender to the d-pawn. The following are the actual moves played in the game

  1.Qh4! Qd7

No better is 1...Qxh4 2.gxh4 Nc6 (if 2...Nd7 3.Rxd6 Nf6 4.Rxe6 Re8 5.Rxe8+ Nxe8 6.Kg2 g6 7.f4 exf4 8.Kf3 Kg7 9.Kxf4+-) and the pawn still falls: 3.Rxd6 Re8 4.Rd7 Re7 5.Rxe7 Nxe7 6.h5 Kg8 7.Bc7 Nc6 8.a4 Kf7 9.b4 b5 10.axb5 axb5 11.f3 Ke7 12.Kf2 Kd7 13.Bb6 Nb8 14.Bc5 Ke8 15.Ke3 Nd7 16.Bd6 Kd8 17.Kd3 Kc8 18.c4+-;

2.Qd8+ Qxd8

3.Bxd8 Nd7

Black cannot save the pawn.

3...Nc6 4.Bb6 d5 5.exd5 exd5 6.Rxd5 Re8 7.Rd7 +-;

4.Bc7 Nc5

4...Nf6 5.Rxd6 Rc8 6.Bb6 Nxe4 7.Rxe6 Nd2 8.Re7 Nc4 9.Bc7 e4 10.b3 Nd2 11.c4 Nf3+ (if 11...b5 12.cxb5 axb5 13.Be5 Nf3+ 14.Kg2 Nxe5 15.Rxe5 Ra8 16.Rxe4 Rxa2 17.Re5 b4 18.Re4 Kh7 19.Rxb4+-) 12.Kg2 Ne1+ 13.Kf1 Nf3 14.Be5+-;

5.Rxd6! ...

This is much better than ...Bxe6 which would lead to the Bishop being pinned wth ...Rd8.

5... Rc8

6.Bb6 Na4

Black goes for an active attack on the queenside knowing that White will gain a passed e-pawn after mopping up the Black central pawns.

7.Rxe6 Nxb2

8.Rxe5 Nc4

9.Re6 Nxb6

Reshevsky exchanges down to a Rook and pawn ending hoping that it gives him the best chance to draw.

10.Rxb6 Rxc3

11.Rxb7 Rc2

12.h4 Rxa2

It is very instructive to see how Smyslov wins this R&P ending. The white Rook will take the 7th rank and at the same time keep the a-pawn under surveillance. The White King will advance under the cover of its own pawns so that it is impossible for Black to check the enemy King and queen his a-pawn.

13.Kg2 a5

14.h5 a4

15.Ra7 Kg8

16.g4 a3

16...Ra3 17.f3 Kf8 18.Kg3 Ra1 19.Kf4 Ra3 20.e5 Kg8 21.Kf5 Rxf3+ 22.Kg6 a3 23.Rxg7+ Kf8 24.Ra7 Rg3 25.Kxh6 Rxg4 26.Rxa3 Kf7 27.Ra6 Re4 28.Rf6+ Kg8 29.e6 Re1 30.Rg6+ Kh8 31.Kg5+-

17.Kg3 Re2

18.Kf3 Ra2

19.Ke3 Kf8

20.f3 Ra1

21.Kf4 a2

22.e5! ...

22.Ke5? Rf8 23.Rxa2 Rxf3 and the win is still difficult.

22... Kg8 23.Kf5 Rf1 24.Rxa2 Rxf3+ 25.Kg6 Kf8 26.Ra8+ Ke7 27.Ra7+ (Black loses his Kingside pawns.) Black Resigned.


ChessDevon, in collaboration with PCE has produced a CD that includes practically all the endgame positions that have appeared  on this site. This CD contains 363 endgame positions taken from games and studies.  Nearly all the positions are preceded by a pen portrait of the player or composer.  A built-in programme is provided on the CD to play through the endings.

"PRACTICAL CHESS ENDINGS" is available at £12:50 (including UK postage) from "ChessDevon".

  Order by E-Mail from:

Chess Devon: (Chess news and games from Devon and the West of England.)


8X8 Basic Endings for Success




Kashdan vs Flohr

Hamburg, 1930

White to play and WIN






Simple endings are full of surprises. White has to calculate the resulting Queen ending very carefully to come up with the only winning move for this position.1.Kf5!! h4 2.e6 h3 3.e7 h2 4.e8Q Black is aware of the check on the long white diagonal so plays 4... Kg2! instead of queening the pawn. 5.Kg4! Black would usually have the draw in a QvP ending with the h-pawn on the 7th but the White King is too close. Black Resigned. He is in a mating net. If 5... h1Q 6.Qe2+ Kg1 7.Kg3! and Black cannot escape mate.

I would like to briefly summarise the type of endings found on the site. These are; (a) Basic endings. (b) Practical chess endings. (c) The Endgame study.

All these are interrelated and important and you cannot understand (b) or (c) without a knowledge of (a).

(a) Basic Endings. These are theoretical positions in which we know the correct result with optimum play by both sides. They may consist of three pawns or less and also include all the non-pawn and five piece endings which have now been extensively analysed by computer and of which we have tablebases. In the days when we had adjournments some of these endings could be looked up in text books to give us some idea how to play the position. As we no longer can do this, knowledge and memory of these endings has become important in practical play. Fundamental Chess Endings (2001) by Muller and Lamprecht and Basic Endings (1992) by Balashov and Prandstetter and the earlier A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames (1970) by David Hooper are good introductions to these endings.

(b) Practical Endings. These occur in over-the-board play where usually more pawns are present. The above ending is an example of this type. Some of these endings are in the process of being transformed to basic endings but often they finish before this stage is reached. Endgame strategy is very different from the middlegame and has its own set of rules and exceptions. Fine's book Basic Chess Endings (1941,2003) recently revised by Pal Benko and Batsford Chess Endings (1993) by Speelman, Tisdall and Wade are about basic and practical endings and both can be recommended.

(c) Endgame Studies. These are positions which have been composed and will contain elements of one or both of the above types of endings. But there are important differences between these types and the study, such as artistic form and economy of construction. An endgame study has to follow strict rules of composition, especially if it is entered into a composing competition. One of these rules states there should only be one solution. If there is an unintended second solution then the study is unsound and said to be "cooked".

Endgame studies are important to the practical player because they enhance his imagination and help him learn and enjoy areas of theory without too much effort.

John Nunn's Endgame Challenge (2002) is an excellent introduction to using endgame studies as a training tool. Walter Korn's American Chess Art (1995) is a basic introduction to the endgame study and a more comprehensive work is John Roycroft's Test Tube Chess (1972).
Pre 17/10/04 Archives




Position 373



Position 372

O. Bernstein


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Em. Lasker


Position 369



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Position 359

Horwitz & Kling


Position 358



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