20 March 2016

DVD completed: Essential Endgame Knowledge with IM Dr. Danny Kopec

I recently (and finally!) completed 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.
II. King and Pawn Endings - concepts include:
  • 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
  • Triangulation
III. Rook and Pawn Endings

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:
My comments:
  • 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.
Of course practice makes perfect and working out endgame positions with a computer opponent can be very helpful.  The Chess.com Computer Workout section is one such online resource.


  1. such a dvd shows far less of a good book, im shure that a good endgame book will give you douzends of hours of instruction.

    Interactive endgame training:
    A nice endgame training resource for free is http://chessendgames.com
    At chesstempo there is a endgame training for premiums
    A cheap not only endgame training app is chessimo

    1. For books on the endgame, I have three in my library to recommend: 1) Silman's Essential Chess Endings Explained Move by Move, 2) Fundamental Chess Endings by Karsten Muller (with more advanced content), and 3) Lasker's Manual of Chess (not all on the ending, but some good material). My problem is that I have started #1 (multiple times) and #2, but just couldn't finish either due to boredom with the topic. A book is a lot to cover and there's something to be said for shorter materials, including different methods of presentation (video versus online interactive versus a book with a physical board).

      I have more of an appetite for endgame study now - this is the first endgame material of real length that I've ever finished - and look forward to improving this part of the game, which just gets more important the higher you go in rating.

  2. the problem with reading a book is.. to read it once dont help realy, you will forget it again.
    I read (study?) now the book: Chess Structures - A Grandmaster Guide by Mauricio Flores Rios . As soon as i have read a chapter i write a card for Anki : "chapter xyz in book abc". So i will reread the chapter several times ( after 3,9,27..Days ).

  3. thank you for this amazing blog you have! I've been looking for the best way to study chess, beyond looking over old Max Euwe books that I have as I prepare to go play in some local clubs. You're blog gave me the clearest understanding of the wide range of computer-based or on-line training options we have, and a lot more. As an older at-home player, which basically is anyone over thirty it seems, your blog has given me a sense of what I'll have to do, and given me confidence that older doesn't spell doom. thanks.

    1. I'm always glad to hear that the blog has done some good for other chessplayers. I feel it's worth putting in the effort to describe what resources I've found useful (or occasionally not so useful) during my training journey.