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10 Tips for Your Endgames – Win More Chess Games

I have compiled this short list of tips for the endgame player, who needs a little support to improve his or her chess endgame tactics.

1. Calculate your next move
Many players believe that tactics and calculation only belong to the middlegame. But especially with the minor pieces, you need to accurately calculate your moves. This can be simple calculations, such as counting a passed pawn race in a king and pawn endgame, or it can be some of the more complex variations which need deeper calculations.
2. Activate your king – when it’s time
The king is a perfect piece for attacking the opponent’s pawns and defending your own pieces. The player with the most active and centralized king will often be winner of the game. But if there are too many pieces on the board that impose a threat, it may not be the time to move your king into the battle field yet.
3. Exchange rooks with care
Rook endings have a tendency to often lead to draws. So if you’re in a hopeless position, consider it one more time, before you exchange rooks.
4. Keep pawns together
Try to avoid isolated and doubled pawns as they are difficult to protect. This requires a great deal of planning in the middlegame and sometimes even in the opening repertoire.
5. Push your pawns with care
Unless it is absolutely trivial to queen, plan your moves towards the 8th rank carefully. Have the king lead the way, and move it as far up the board as possible, while advancing the pawns.
6. Pawns for tempo
Sometimes you are in need of an extra move. This can for example be the case, if two kings stand in front of each other, and the king to move will lose territory (also called opposition and discussed here). Having a pawn standing by for these “dead” moves can be quite handy in situations like these.
7. When to exchange pieces
If you have a material advantage, it is good endgame tactics to exchange pieces. But keep your pawns though, because the further you get into the endgame, the more important these pieces become.
8. Use both sides of the board
Approaching the endgame, your opponent might not have enough pieces left, to properly defend both sides of the board. So to place pawns on both sides of the board, might be a good strategy for promoting one of your pawns.
9. Use the rook as support
Consider keeping the rook behind the passed pawn to support its advance. The Tarrasch rule goes: “Always put the rook behind the pawn.... Except when it is incorrect to do so”. An exception to this rule can be, when the pawn is blocked by the opposing king, and the rook needs to support the pawn from the side instead.
10. Knight or bishop
If you have an open position, the rule of thumb is that the bishop is the stronger piece. For a closed position the knight is the better piece. This is because bishops move easier if there are open diagonals, while knights can jump over a cluttered landscape of locked pawns.
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