Sports & Games

Endgames - Part 2

Garry Kasparov

Lesson time 15:35 min

Garry continues his endgame lessons with pawn endgames, rook endgames, queen v. pawn—and, of course, the king’s role. While it can seem slow and weak in the middlegame, an active king is vital in the endgame.

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And before we move to other endgames, let's have another quick look for some important tactical elements in the pawn endgames. Let's start with the very simple. White king is on h1. Black king's on h3. And we have three pawns-- three versus three-- a5, b5, c5 versus a7, b7, c7. I guess many of you are aware about this simple trick, so how White can break through without having a king. So simply with three pawns, it's b6. And no matter what black does, we after axb6, of course we'll go c6, bxc6, and a6. And the same maneuver works. If Black after b6 take with c-pawn, then we just have to make sure that our c-pawn, which has an open file, is advancing after a6, so clearing path for c-pawn. Quick question-- if you play Black, do you know what to do to stop this breakthrough? Because there's only one move that can prevent it and save you from trouble. It's b6. You have just to stop White's b-pawn from advancing. And then everything exchanged. You probably win this pawn. And it will be eventually a draw. And a few other small things-- of course, having passed pawns, connected pawns, is more powerful than having separate pawns. But sometimes, things could be different. And for instance, if we have position with our pawns on f6 and h6 and black king is on g8, and black has three pawns-- they are advancing-- a4, b4, c4. And our king's standing on b2. What is the only move for us to survive? Because it will be eventually mutual Zugzwang. Black cannot move the king. If king moves, one of our pawns is advancing. So can we stop these pawns? And the right move is, you go Kd1. And now you are waiting. This is a good position. You know, king is observing. Which pawn moves? a3. We go Ka2. c3, Kb3-- bingo, pawn is stopped. c3-- you know, Kc2. a3, Kb3, the same result. And of course, if Black goes b3, then Kb2. And pawns are stopped again. The irony is that if white king is on b1, then White is lost. Because of if White goes Kb2 then b3, then we lost. And if White goes Ka2, then c3, and we lost again, since you cannot stop the three pawns. As a matter of fact, if we know this trick, how to work with these pawns, I can tell you that there are many other situations where opponent's king can be cut by one or two passed pawns. For instance, that's another situation we want to remember. It looks that white pawns are too weak. And they are too weak. If black king was on h8, yes. If there was no pawn on f7, yes. But having this pawn on f7, that's the worst case of interference. Because Black, again, has no moves. And it depends whether White can force black pawns to be blocked. So there are many tactical motifs that we're always looking at. So you should remember that your king can be blocked. For instance, here is a situation. So this is the king is blocked by this ...

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Its a wonderful class.But i am thinking how could i judge my game that how much i improved

Garry is not only a great chess player but he is also a great teacher. Thank you for sharing your mind. This is the closest I can get to having one of the greatest chess master as my personal trainer in the game of chess.

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Gary P.

It is really amazing when playing otb how many people do not know basic endgames and you can rescue the half point or indeed steal the win. Love endgames.

A fellow student

I love Garry, and enjoying the master class but - quite honestly - there’s a flaw in the presentation that increasingly grates on me as a beginner... many of us are accustomed to seeing the board perspective in this way? It goes against all of our muscle memory in wider chess literature!

Steve E.

As some of the comments have said, watching these video's is like having Garry as a personal trainer, I know it's a video but some is some effect as if it's in person. Loving this course...


I never before bothered to study the end game, thinking each was unique and that the variables would always be unique. That being said, I realize now that I often blunder away winnable positions due to poor tactical decisions -- failing to recognize the patterns that clearly do and will occur. Thank you Garry! And I have to say that the experience of sitting across from Garry is incredibly enriching. I know that perhaps there is more depth to all of this, but the transfer of knowledge feels very personal and not authoritative at all. The directors and writers involved with making this program are incredibly skilled in what they have accomplished -- having chess unpacked by a master in such a natural way is an amazing experience for me as a learner.

josh S.

learning the rule regarding the bishop pawn end game, vs the rook pawn end game is an eye opener..thank u

Morgan T.

The idea of activating the king in the endgame is important. I usually struggle with knowing when it's best to get the king moving. I suppose that's a common problem among chess players during the endgame.

Hari N.

Thanks Garry, now I just need to figure out what to do when it is bishop pawn or rook pawn vs queen.

Jason B.

I never quite realized how important Rook placement, relative to the enemy pawn was; interesting stuff. Also, didn't know about the "tricks" in breaking the 3 pawn guard with the King, and other pawn structures vs, the King. This Kasparov guy is pretty good :) :) (Note my SEVERE Understatement)

David B.

for queen vs pawn endgames see:

David B.

a very common position is whats called the philidor position see: