Silman's Complete Endgame Course

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Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 24th 2010, 1:10 pm

I've seen a few people on here say they wished ICS had more endgame material so I thought it's a good idea to throw this book out there as an idea for those who want some endgame study.

I'm working through this book right now and I have to say it's pretty much the perfect book for any beginners and club players seeking to learn basics of the endgame. All of the material is divided into rating rather than theme which means you only learn things according to your current chess level. This is in stark contrast to all other endgame books which are divided into themes. This means for example that in chapter 1, you might learn basic mates, and then have to learn to mate with two bishops against a king and a bishop and knight against a king before you have even started working on basic king and pawn endgames. Then chapter 2 might be king and pawn endings, and if you work through that entire section you will end up studying extremely complex positions related to that theme before you even learn the most elementary details of rook and pawn endgames, such as rook and king against rook and pawn and the Lucena and Philidor positions.

Silman's book is refreshing in that it gives you information across all endgame themes in small bitesize pieces and builds slowly over time as your level increases.

I'm really enjoying working through it and I think it meets my needs perfectly in giving me a decent working knowledge of the endgame and a solid technical endgame base.

Anyway I put the suggestion out there for any others who wanted to see more endgame materials on this course. I think this book will meet that need perfectly.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by HangingKing on September 24th 2010, 2:07 pm

Well, i must say i think i do a decent job on many endgames, but no way i can master K -vs- KBN or KR -vs- KQ.

For one thing, these do not happen very often : i may have had 2 kKBN and 3 krKQ and managed to win 2 krKQ but draw the 3 others (thus 5 games among hundred of others with king, pawns and a minor piece).

And secondly, they are very difficult to manage in limited time and you would certainly avoid these endgames if possible (i.e. would try to save at least a pawn in priority). I would not say these are the basic level.

For the Lucena, philidor, i did agree, this happen so often, that it is mandatory to learn them !

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 24th 2010, 2:17 pm

Yes I agree, K vs KBN and KR vs KQ are very complicated, and definitely advanced learning!

It's funny because Capablanca's Fundamentals has KR vs KQ on the first chapter of his fundamental basic chess course!

Silman's book is great as an endgame book for that reason.

Chapter 1 is overkill mates, K + 2 Qs vs K, K + Q vs K K +R vs K etc.

Then Chapter 2 is just basic opposition and a list of what material mates, plus K+Q vs K+N or K+Q vs K+B, just really basic stuff.

It makes for a much easier learning process because everything builds up incrementally and you never feel overwhelmed.

I'd recommened it unconditionally to anyone who wants to start studying the endgame as the ideal first book.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by HangingKing on September 24th 2010, 3:33 pm

If you have it, can you put the ISBN n° of the book ?


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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 24th 2010, 3:41 pm

Off the back of the book?

This is what it says.

ISBN: 1-890085-10-3
ISBN:13: 978-1-890085-10-0
Siles Press

I have no idea what any of that means but if it's of use to you great!

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 24th 2010, 3:46 pm


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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by BorgQueen on September 24th 2010, 9:20 pm

I also think this book is excellent, even though I haven't completely studied it yet. I find it is ironic though that Silman's Complete Endgame Course is actually incomplete!

Although I know KBN vs K very well and can do it with very little time on the clock, I still can't beat QvR. Such a shame that this book didn't cover either of these, but certainly the content that is there is very well structured.

What I really love about this book is that it builds on itself as you go. If you can't master chapter 2, there is no point reading chapter 3 until you do. I always found this lacking in other books.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 24th 2010, 11:37 pm

Yeah I love the way his book is structered. I think is insistence that you put the book away once you've studied for your rating level is silly though.

The early chapters especially take about 10 minutes to master, maybe 20 if you insist on playing them out over the board. The idea somebody would read chapter 1 and then be best to wait a few weeks before they tried to take on the 10 minutes it would take to master chapter 2 is rather silly.

I think it shouldn't take more than two weeks and say 10 hours of study for even a complete beginner to reach 1200 level, I mean you only need to learn basic opening principles, simple tactic ideas like pins and discovered checks and you are pretty much there.

Most people with grades below 1200 have literally never ever studied anything to do with chess before in their lives.

So I really think the first 4 chapters should be learned by everybody, even complete beginners.

I will just work right through the entire book, it's stupid to stop on chapter 5 because I'm not rated over 1800 yet. I think that idea is bizarre quite honestly.

You need to read the later chapters imo for the earlier ones to have any practical use. It's so rare to get a bare bones endgame postition, you need to learn how to steer a game in that direction and for that you need the later chapters.

I mean how often does one of our games come down to a king and pawn against a king? Probably not a whole lot more often than king vs king, bishop and knight.

Learning the strategic side of endgames is as important as the technical side I think. How else do you know how to reach these technical positions?

So I think the whole book should be studied really rather than stopping when you get to your rating level.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by BorgQueen on September 25th 2010, 1:50 am

I think the timings may be strange or unneeded, but I strongly believe that you shouldn't bother progressing with chapter 2 until you can master chapter 1. Understanding chapter 1 makes studying chapter 2 a lot easier!!

Of course, the same applies for the progressive chapters.

I mean you can do it of course, but why make it harder for yourself?!

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 25th 2010, 2:24 am

Oh yes I definitely agree with that, I think you need to start at the beginning to ensure no gaps in your knowledge.

But to say to someone they should just read the first 3 chapters say and then stop until they reach 1400, which might take a year for most as gradings are done annually is absurd.

The first 5 chapters are simple enough for even a beginner to chess to absorb and understand in just a few hours of study.

if you spent two hours a day with this book, anyone, even someone who couldn't play chess before could absorb the information from the first 5 chapters in a week, 14 hours would be plenty.

If you waited until your annual grading was updated and given to you it would take a couple of years to do what could be done in a week.

Kind of silly to me. But the actual contents of the book is great!

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by BorgQueen on September 25th 2010, 5:42 am

Wow, do they really say that? That is absurd.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by StarByrne on September 25th 2010, 8:03 am

I saw this book with a lot of good ratings on Amazon when I searched "endgames chess". Glad to see it is actually good, will definitely be purchasing this at some point for sure.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Blue Devil Knight on September 26th 2010, 12:23 am

My favorite book on endgames with a great focus on the useful stuff (i.e., no KBN v K).

I wasted the time to learn KBN v K. I have seen it once in my entire history of games of chess, but that's because I purposely gave away my remaining pawns to see if I could do it. :O

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on September 26th 2010, 8:31 am

and did you?

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by BorgQueen on September 26th 2010, 10:20 am

I've encountered it three times in my history :-)

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Blue Devil Knight on September 26th 2010, 10:16 pm

Bilbo wrote:and did you?

Yes, but now I probably would have to go refresh my memory to do it correctly. I used to review it every month or so, as it is very counterintuitive at first how to pull it off.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by BorgQueen on September 27th 2010, 3:18 am

Practice makes perfect :-)

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Bilbo on October 4th 2010, 11:48 am

Is anyone else working through this book?

I've studied the first 5 chapters, up to B or 1800 rating.

I'm going to stop now and just review the previous months, to make sure I know it all by heart.

I still don't think I know the endgame any better though. Sure I know how to handle certain basic technical positions, but I can't recall ever reaching more than one or two of them ever in my two year chess career so far!

I guess they serve as pointers as what to aim for but I'm still just as stumped as ever in the transition from middlegame to endgame.

I think Silman's claim that I now have an extremely strong endgame base rivalling that of even most 2000 rated players is a bit silly. Sure I know some technical stuff that some of them may not know, but that's only like 20% of a real endgame in my experience.

Anyway, I will now divert attention back to the ICS course. Haven't studied for a long time and am going to start over at the beginning again.

Really looking forward to it now, felt I wasn't ready for it before, but am now improving my strength rapidly.

I had my best win last week, in a club championship game against a 175 rated player, a former county champ too who according to chessbase megadatabase had a career high Fide rating of 2153, albiet 10 years ago.

Hoping that is the confidence booster I needed to advance to the next level.

I want to break 140 ECF this season.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by BorgQueen on October 5th 2010, 12:07 am

I am working through the book, but stopped when I started ICS. I'm up to part six. What I think Silman means is that you have a better understanding of the basic stuff better than most 2000 players. However, most 2000 players would have a better understanding of the content further on. Keep working through it!

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by PawnCustodian on October 6th 2010, 3:45 pm

I don't own that book.

Picking up on the Month Three recommendation to take 20 minutes to warm up with some easy problems prior to studying I've got out my old CT ART and Studies programs and do one or the other each day. Hopefully this will keep middle and endgame tactics fresh in my mind.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Blue Devil Knight on October 9th 2010, 1:31 pm

Those aren't easy, I think they mean really easy like chess tactics for beginners, one to two move tactics that you can solve within ten seconds.

CT Art problems are tough.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by PawnCustodian on October 9th 2010, 1:43 pm

Blue Devil Knight wrote:Those aren't easy, I think they mean really easy like chess tactics for beginners, one to two move tactics that you can solve within ten seconds.

CT Art problems are tough.

Actually, they can be quite easy.

The trick is that there is a option to enter at various levels of difficulty, and for purposes of just warming up you can set the levels to one or two and you should be able to solve a dozen or so problems in 20 minutes. At the lowest levels you are just removing a guard, exploiting a pin or some other elemetary tactic.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by Blue Devil Knight on October 11th 2010, 12:44 pm

Yes, level 10 problems are about level 3 (out of 5) at CT for beginners. I like to warm up with problems that take me about 5 seconds to solve. Smile

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by PawnCustodian on October 11th 2010, 4:00 pm

Blue Devil Knight wrote:Yes, level 10 problems are about level 3 (out of 5) at CT for beginners. I like to warm up with problems that take me about 5 seconds to solve. Smile

It takes me longer that than that even to recognize a problem I've already solved! I think my personal best is about 18 seconds.

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Re: Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Post by HangingKing on October 11th 2010, 4:53 pm



What do you mean solving the problem ?

For example if i take the diagram above (CT-art level 30), it takes me a few seconds to see that
Spoiler:
Nxh7 is more or less the move to be analysed

But it takes another 5 min to figure out mentally a good continuation for this move
Spoiler:
i.e. Nxh7, Kxh7, Qh5+, Kg8 with the pin due to the bishop was better than other variants, like for example Qh5 sacrifice first or even Bxg6.
Also spending time analysing Qxg6 next or Bg5 next (threatening pointlessly the black queen or exchanging material with no real compensation)

And about 17 min to completely assess the position with king move
Spoiler:

I takes me a bunch of time only to notice that Qxg6 is not good in favor to Bxg6, simply because bishop in g6 does the same job that knight in g5 controling light squares h7 AND f7. It seems obvious when you play it on the board, but not immedaite for me mentally.

Thus allowing Nxh7, Kxh7, Qh5+, Kg8, Bxg6 and Qh7# is mate.

For this point it became complicated to "see" the position, the mate threat force rook to move Rf7 and king to move Kf8.

If i was able to see that Bh6 dark bishop was a good attack, it takes me a lot of time to assess it : i.e. be sure that black counterplay Qxf2+ is not possible because of Qh8#. This is really my limit for mental calculation for now.

And the final line Nxh7, Kxh7, Qh5+, Kg8, Bxg6, Rf7, Qh7+, Kf8, Bh6, Bxh6, Qxh6+, Qg7, Rh8+ is winning the queen due to the pin is really too much for me, even if i more or less foresee that it should be ok in favor of white.


Finally back to the board (so adding a few more minutes on the clock) i noticed there are a lot of moves i did'nt even considered like
Spoiler:

In the end black will surely repond Nxh7,Qf7, Nxf8, Nxf8 exchanging at best R+P for a N

Or that in the middle of the attack, Ne5 can be considered, etc...

So tactical problems can be very short or very long to solve depending on what is your purpose. Ok it takes a few seconds to have a hunch for some particular move, but being sure it is good in all cases is a nightmare sometimes doing it only in the mind.


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