Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rook Endgames, Phase I

I just finished the first round of going through Karsten Müller's DVD 2 on rook endgames, and copying all of the starting positions into a database. That's about 70 positions in total, although some of them are more educational, in the sense that refuting the incorrect tries are much more important than the correct line. But quite a lot of them are also 'trainable' against Fritz as it is, meaning the meat of the positions lie in the correct mainline (along which engines probably step as sparring opponents). Which is exactly what I'm gonna do next.

So now I have all the positions in a chessbase database, even the 'untrainable' ones for completeness' sake. That way it's easy to load them up into Fritz (tools/options/training/endgame training), and use them instead of the pathetic default positions in the endgame training module.

On the first round I also went through the videos with some thought, and feel like I already gained a good familiarity with all the basic principles and techniques. Now the hard part begins, which is drilling the positions over and over, until the philidors, lucenas, vancuras, karstedts, saavedras etc. come as a second nature to me. I want to be able to blitz through all of it on autopilot if/when necessary, no matter how drunk or tired I might be. And at that point I'll attack the more discussional type of examples again, hopefully being able to spot the technical refutations and sidelines a mile away, as I should in a real game.

Quite a lot of the won lines end into a Q vs R endgame though, so maybe I should learn that first (it's on DVD 3, which I have but haven't gone through), in order to drill those positions until the bitter end? Sounds like a practical way to combine two drills, so maybe I'll just do that. it can't be that hard, can it? Although I did try it from the top of my head, and there's absolutely no way I could figure it out on my own. Seems more tricky than the KNB mate, which makes it pretty funny that most people probably resign rather than even think about trading the queen for a rook.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Back To The Drudgery Of Endgame

Once more guys, this time with a feeling.

Yes, I'm back to training elementary endgames, once again. When I stopped doing tactics, the idea was to focus on endgames. But as usual, it didn't last very long, and in the end my endgame training has been sporadic at best. I certainly have done much more tactics than endgames during the last year, which isn't that much either.

So a while ago I got into it again. I started from the first Karsten Müller DVD, and went systematically through all the examples. I also trained many of them against fritz, to get it all down cold, and quick enough for blitz. I'm hoping it'll help my games, as I lose a fair portion of my blitz games from a 'won' position in the endgame. I simply lack the technique, and succumb to either braindead blunders or use too much time.

One big surprise found already: It turns out my lone queen endings were crap. I actually had big problems at winning against nasty 1P cases. But thanks to Müller and the help of assistant coach Mr.Fritz, I can now win all winnable Q vs. 1P endings. Although the rook and bishop pawn cases are still a bit hazy as Fritz adamantly refuses to play the best defense and drops the pawn the as soon as getting mated by the queen becomes the longer sequence. Another good example of the stupidity of engines. They're just oblivious to the fact that the few last tricky moves against bishop pawn are far more difficult for a human than the 10-15 move elementary mate with queen. -I guess I should train defending those endings against fritz, and that way get to the core of the best defense. There are some surprisingly difficult cases depending on where on the 'winning zone' the attacking king is.

That'll have to wait for the next iteration though, as I already moved to DVD 2 and rook endings. Which is sort of new territory for me, as although I have scratched them before, I'm really not even close to having even the simplest cases down cold.

So now I'm planning to put the positions into a file, and hopefully learn how to load them into the fritz endgame training module. That way drilling those positions would become extremely practical, especially when I'll no doubt have the need to re-learn all of it from time to time. As the KNB incident has pointed out.