What are the best chess endgame books?
As chess amateurs, we are told that the best way to improve our game is to study chess endgames. Doing so helps us to calculate, which is critical to becoming a better chess player. The more you can calculate, the better you will play. Endings teach more than just calculation though. They teach us the importance of efficiency – something that is magnified in the ending.
If you have develop good endgame skills, your chess will improve dramatically. Books show us the deeper value of endgame knowledge. They explain how to transition from the middlegame to an ending – a critical skill for amateurs to understand. Most of your opponents know very little about endgame play. Therefore, a basic understanding of endings will give you a great advantage over the competition.
There are many chess endgame books on the market but finding the right one can be a challenge. Some books are very technical and require a lot of patience to get through. Others sometimes focus on one area such as minor piece endings. In this post, I will cover three books from my chess library that I feel any aspiring chess player should own.
1. Endgame Magic by John Beasley & Timothy Whitworth
This is a book about endgame studies. A study is a composed problem developed by the author. It highlights various endgame themes for the reader to practice. I used to dislike these kinds of books because the positions are not from real games. This book has changed my mind. Once I started playing through the first few chapters, I realized the immense value of this book. It is filled with some amazing ideas that I never knew were possible in the game of chess.
The book has three parts: Strategic Objectives, Tactical maneuvers and The Study as a Whole. Each part has sub topics to focus the reader on key themes. Multiple diagrams are used for every problem. This is intended for the reader who might not have a chess set handy. It helps a lot. Just spending ten minutes going through a few problems will benefit your chess understanding greatly.
To illustrate this point, here is one example from the book that I would like to share with you.
The problem here is that if Re3, e1Q and if Rxe1, Black is in stalemate. So what can White do to not only avoid stalemate but to win the game?
An amazing problem from an amazing book which is filled with similar problems. Now I know where they got the title from. While this is a lesser known title, it is one of the best chess endgame books (for studies) I have found. Many of these positions really are magical!
2. 100 Endgames You Must Know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess Player by Jesus De La Villa
This is one of the most popular endgame books currently on the market and for good reason. As the back of the book states, there aren’t many endings you need to memorize but once you understand how they work, your knowledge will never go out of date.
The book is broken down into 100 sections: Ending 1, Ending 2 and so on. At the end of each section there is a conclusion that helps the reader understand the key elements of the ending they just learned.
This is a combination of a reference book and a training manual. If you want to understand opposite-colored bishop endings, you can turn to page 105, exercise 41 and get started. The table of contents is very thorough and easy to read. The authors take a systematic approach to introducing endings to the reader.
The first chapter, Basic Endings covers some very basic concepts such as opposition, the rule of the square and pawn promotion techniques. From there, the book advances to rook and pawn endings, arguably the most common endings most of us get into. After that, more advanced endings are covered: rooks, minor pieces and king and pawn endings. This is one of the best chess endgame books currently in print. You only need to buy once and it will serve your chess needs forever.
3. Fundamental Chess Endings by Karsten Muiler and Frank Lamprecht
Karsten Mueiler is a noted authority on chess endgames and has authored some of the best chess endgame books in print. This is clearly his best. In this reference book, he covers pawn, minor piece, rook and queen endings. These are not necessarily endings you should know. Rather, the book is a resource to tell you which side is better in virtually any kind of ending.
There are lots of exercises to test your knowledge along the way. Additionally, there are some interesting approaches to calculating how to chase down a pawn with a King. Have you ever heard about Troitsky’s Line? It is a technique you can use if there are two knights vs. a King and pawn. Depending on where your King is on the line will determine a win or a loss. Fascinating stuff.
While primarily a reference, this book is excellently written. There is lots of advice and suggestions on how to approach endgames. This book is definitely a must purchase and should be looked at regularly anytime you reach the endgame.
What are your best chess endgame books? Please share below.