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Chess Strategy - Endgame Basics

The Endgame begins when most of the pieces have been removed from the board. Sometimes there are only Kings and pawns left. Other times a few scattered pieces will remain.

There are two critical concepts that beginners and novices should focus on in the end game: King Activation and Passed Pawns.

King Activation

It is essential to bring your King into the action during the Endgame. To many beginners, this is counter-intuitive. Part of the reason for this confusion is that in the Opening and Middlegame, King Safety is a main concern. In the endgame, however, the King becomes a vital fighting piece.

When there are few (or none) pieces left on the board, carefully advance your King into the action. Remember -your King is still vulnerable to checks! Be on the watch for knight checks/forks. If the opponent has a single Bishop left, it can be helpful to keep your King on the opposite colour as the opposing Bishop.

If you are able to bring your King into play faster than your opponent, it can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Passed Pawns and Promotion

A Passed Pawn is one that can't be stopped from reaching the final rank by any defending pawn (on the same or an adjacent file). One of the main goals in the endgame is to create a Passed Pawn. You can do this by capturing enemy pawns, exchanging enemy pawns, or sacrificing a pawn/piece (just make sure it's worth it if you make a sacrifice!).

Once you have a Passed Pawn, your job is to escort it to the final rank (and Promotion). Rooks should be placed behind your passed pawns in order to protect them. Rooks should also be placed behind enemy passed pawns in order to threaten them. Bishops and Knights are useful for blockading enemy passed pawns. The King is also very useful for escorting and blocking Passed Pawns.

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Chess Strategy - Table of Contents
Strategy vs Tactics - Piece Values - Elementary Checkmates
The Three Game Phases - Opening Basics - Middlegame Basics - Endgame Basics
Top 10 Opening Principles - Top 10 Middlegame Principles - Top 10 Endgame Principles
Balanced Endgames - Part 2
Opening Systems