this DVD, which although non-interactive (having been produced before interactivity became common) was certainly a useful video lecture. At 1 hour 50 minutes long, it provides a foundation of basic endgame knowledge, focusing on universal concepts and principles by using a number of classic, real-world and composed examples.
The contents are broken into three main sections:
I. Elementary Endings - includes the standard mates with major pieces (Queen, Rook, 2 Bishops, Bishop and Knight) and no pawns, along with positions with a single pawn on the board. All of these (with the exception of the last one) are demonstrated in a video of IM Kopec using a (very nice) wooden board, a presentation method which actually works pretty well.
- K+Q vs K
- K+R vs K (the first two are both are demonstrated using a "shrink the box" technique, not the only one possible but easy to remember)
- K+2 bishops (demonstrated using a "shrink the triangle" technique consistent with the previous concept) (Workout at Chess.com)
- K+P vs K (includes the idea of the opposition, rule of two ranks, principle of lead with the king, principle of maximizing distance (in files) between kings, stepping into the "pawn square", rook pawn exception)
- K+B+N vs K. This is the tough one that sometimes professional players can't get, since it is by far the most complex and the most rare. The presentation for the technique is given using a 2-D computer board and IM Kopec focuses on presenting concepts such as the "good formation" of the bishop and knight (on the same color square) that the viewer can use.
- Better king position
- Better pawns - structure (more space), mobility (more tempi available)
- Zugzwang - sometimes it's enough to do nothing and force your opponent to move
- Strong and weak pawn structures
First are the three primary factors, in order of importance:
- Relative positions of the rooks and their activity - rook activity is primary, even over material; rooks should be behind passed pawns (both yours and your opponent's)
- Better king - more advanced, more active
- Pawn structure; the superiority of "relatively outside" passed pawns
Other thematic content:
- Zugzwang is again important; not having to actively advance your own plans, rather cause the opponent to run out of moves and give ground, while maintaining an advantageous status quo.
- Lasker-Rubinstein, St. Petersburg 1914
- Capablanca-Tartakower, New York 1924
- "What is my winning margin?" - figure out how exactly can you win, either through pawn promotion or threatening mate (or a combination)
- Schlecter-Rubinstein, San Sebastian 1912
- It would have been nice to have seen some of the examples played out more, including the last two classic games listed above.
- There are a significant number of "verbal typos" made throughout the lecture (wrong square announced, etc.) although most of them are corrected. It's a little annoying sometimes, but not a reason to avoid watching the lecture.
- The mix of 3-D wood board and 2-D computer board (including all of the rook and pawn endgame material) actually works pretty well and gives some variety in the first part of the DVD, as if you were really working with a coach over a wood board.