Thursday, August 23, 2007

Starting: The Endgame

It seems strange to start out learning about chess from the endgame but that's essentially what I did. By learning the endgame, I can quickly figure out if my middlegame position is winning, losing, unclear if many of the pieces had left the board.

I still have difficulty visualising the theme of opposition in the endgame and I wish there was a quick way to see how if I can put my opponent's king into zugzwang.

What is opposition? Opposition occurs when 2 chess kings face each other horizontally or vertically with a single square in between. And the side who does not have to move is called "having the opposition".

What is zugzwang? The word actually comes from a German word which roughly translates to mean "forced to move". In chess, this is usually taken to mean that a position has been reached on the chessboard whereby the player who has to make a move realises that whatever move the player makes, the outcome results in an inferior position that can decidedly turn the match against the player's favour. If given a choice, the player would like to say "pass" and don't make a move but this is not possible.

Zugzwang is a common theme in endgames because so many pieces have left the board that usually only a limited number of move options remain possible to the players. As a result, it is possible to make your opponent go into zugzwang. Conversely, this situation is also possible for you. So you must be very careful not to fall into zugzwang as you approach the endgame.

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