Sharp Endgames, by Esben Lund
This is an interesting book if you have an interest in winning chess endgames that feature particularly sharp endgames. Since sharp endgames are ones where there is a great deal of simplification of material, they often present the opportunity for tactical simplification, since the reduction of pieces makes one’s options more simple and straightforward. These tactical operations are certainly possible to focus on to a greater extent than the larger combinations that are required for openings and middle games, and this book is aimed at those who wish to improve their score and rankings gas chess players by mastering endgames where it is possible to keep a few principles in mind and to seek victories through mastering the critical moments as well as understanding fortresses and mating opportunities. Admittedly, this is not a book with a wide potential audience, but for that intended audience of serious chess players this book offers a great deal of instruction as well as practical exercises that can have a positive benefit and that is worth appreciating. Those who take the book’s approach seriously can see some benefits not only in their own games, but also in recognizing the sort of simplified endings that one can see while watching world class chess being played by others as well.
This book is a moderately sized book at nearly 300 pages long. It is divided unequally into eleven chapters. After beginning with a key, foreword, and a preface, the first chapter of the book discusses the aim of the book in teaching parameters to use to attain and master sharp endgame positions (1). This is followed by a general introduction (2) that discusses critical moments as well as san introduction to endgames (3), including knight endgames, rook endgames, bishop vs. knight endgames, rook vs bishop or knight endgames, and queen endgames. After this come exercises in the various previously discussed endgames (4), solutions to the main exercises (5), as well as extra exercises organized by the type of endgame in terms of its pieces (6). The rest of the book consists of solutions to these extra exercises (7), exercises from the author’s other books (8), how to set up a position in Komodo 10, an index of games and studies, as well as a list of parameters.
One of the aspects of chess that tends to confuse newer players is the way that positions are complex and difficult to understand. The focus of this book on sharp endgames allows for a simplification of material and position, which the author then examines in a schematic fashion, with various zones that offer various likelihoods of victory and various obvious strategies about how to increase one’s position and move towards checkmate. The simplification of material can lead to elegance in terms of one’s solutions, and one sees it often in highly competitive chess matches as well that positions will simplify to rook and pawn or bishop and pawn or knight and pawn positions that have obvious moves to follow. And one thing that is worth noting, and that this book focuses on, is that obvious moves to follow are better than subjecting oneself to chance. This book is about putting oneself in a position to certainly win and looking at where one’s pieces on the board would allow for that sort of forced victory, which can lead to more concessions from opponents and a correspondingly higher rating, all of which is of interest to those who are playing chess competitively.