For quite some time now, experienced players have a real challenge here at Chessity: Afek's Endgame Studies. International Master Yochanan Afek is one of the World's leading Endgame Composer and Chessity is very proud to have him on the team! Under the tab 'Train' and 'Advanced' you will find this fascinating world of endgame studies. And who else than Yochanan is better equiped to make the selection of the studies. Endgame studies are known to be useful both in broadenening your imagination and calculation abilities. And there is one, and one winning line only. No room for error! What I, personaly, like about endgame studies is the normal nature of the starting position. It could easily appear in one of your own games, unlike those typical mate in 2-studies with a full board of weirdly placed pieces.
During the 2013 edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Jan Timman gave me a study to solve which remains one of my favourites to date.
Gurgenidze & Mitrofanov 1981
White is unable to take the queen with 1.Qxb8 because after 1...gxf1Q he would fight a lost cause. Removing the rook from f1 would allow a check on b3. Therefore, the first move I found rather quickly 1.Qxh2+! Qxh2 and now White should move his rook. But where? On the surface it looks like it shouldn't matter much. All Black can do is make pawn moves and once he runs out the queen will have to move and mate will follow on g1. Matters are not that simple though. After for instance: 2.Ra1 h4 3.Rb1 h3 4.Ra1 c4 5.Rb1 c3 6.bxc3 Qe5+! 7.Kxe5 h2 it transpires that White has nothing better then force stalemate. Imagination is the key to solving this study. How should White prepare for the plan excecuted by Black in the line above? There is one beautiful way: 2.Rb1! h4 3.Kc6! h3 4.Kb7! c4 5.Ka8! c3 6.bxc3 and now 6...Qb8+ can be met with 7.Rxb8 h2 8.Rh8! and mate next move. Despite a not overly succesfull tournament in Wijk aan Zee that year, solving this study gave me a huge boost! Note that in a good study -like the above- all pieces play a role in the solution. It shows you how to get the maximum out of your pieces!
Fooling the engines!
It is interesting to note that the area of endgame studies is one where our monstrous engines can still be fooled from time to time! Take for example this famous study from Behting.
Here neither 1.Nxh4 Kxh4 2.Nf3+ Kg3 3.Ng1 h5! nor 1.Ng7+ Kg5 2.Nf3+ Kg4 3.Ke4 h3 4.Nf5 g1Q 5.Nxg1 h2 succesfully stops Black's passed pawns (though the last line continues a bit longer and is still quite complicated!). Instead White has to chose 1.Kc6! and after 1...g1Q 2.Nxh4! Qh1+ 3.Nhf3 the Black king is incarcerated and the position is drawn. Though it'seasy to see with a human eye that it's impossible for Black to make progress, the engine continues to evaluate this position as '-4.31' and prefers both 1.Nxh4 and 1.Ng7+. It shows the problems engines are facing with fortresses.
The computer will also points out alternative solutions called 'duals'. However, most of the times these duals will only make the win longer by transposing back in the main line a few moves later. An example you will find underneath.
White to play wins with 1.Ra1-g1-g3 threatening to take on h3 with mate. If Black takes the rook once it lands on g3 than the recapture fxg3 will be checkmate. Your engine will tell you 1.Rb8 also wins here, which is correct, but after 1...Rh7 2.Rc8 Rh6 in order to win, still the manouevre 3.Rc1-g1-g3 has to be played. So 1.Rb8 only prolongs the win and will therefor be counter as a mistake. Another important point is about the minor-promotion. Unless the solution requires it, the rule on Chessity is always to promote to queen. When the position contains 6 pieces or less, you can also check why your solution is or is not working in the Nalimov tablebase. It can be found on various places online, for instance on http://chessok.com/?page_id=361.
I hope to have been able to show you my love for the endgame study. Yes, the material you have seen above is difficult, it may sometimes take you hours, even days to solve just one study. But the rewards are there too and the game is made in such a way that you can easily log out and pick up where you left of. I hope you will not hesitate and give it a try! Thousands of studies are waiting for you on our server!