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Andy Ansel’s Book Reviews

Chess Endings Made Simple by Ian Snape. Publisher: Gambit, 144 pages, list price $19.95

It is a known fact that most amateur players are lacking in endgame skill, this writer included. Yet most teachers stress the fact that endgame skill is one of the most important things to learn. There have been several excellent endgame books written for us patzers over the last few years. They include Lev Alburt's Just the Facts, Andy Soltis's GM Secrets: Endings, James Howell's, Essential Chess Endings, as well as classics by Euwe, Averbakh and Pachman. Clearly something doesn't make sense—if club players are not studying their endings, who is buying these books and is there really much difference in them? Snape's new book is the latest addition to this genre of books.

The first thing any endgame book must tackle is making studying fun. One of the things that impedes studying endgames is they tend to be dry and boring. How many of us have ever gotten an endgame of B & N vs. K? Yet most players have spent hours going over this basic endgame. When I study the Pirc, odds are I will be playing the opening almost 30% of the time I am black. Enough digression lets look at this book.

Here is the layout:

  • Pawnless Endgames 9 pages
  • King and Pawn Endgames 12 pages
  • Rook vs. Pawn(s) Endgames 6 pages
  • Rook and Pawn Endgames 18 pages
  • Knight Ending 11 pages
  • Bishop Endings 15 pages
  • Bishop vs. Knight Endings 7 pages
  • Queen Endings 6 pages
  • Exercises 26 pages

The topics start on a fairly basic note with items such as wrong-coloured bishop vs. rook pawn, the Lucena position, and the opposition; yet there are also explanations of much more complex endgames. The author tends to use fairly recent games for his examples, which is nice in that most are not well-known or recycled from previous texts. The explanations are good but not super in depth. The hundred examples at the end provide a good testing ground for the student.

Conclusion: I enjoyed this book. It was well laid out and easy to follow, but my main question is how much more does it offer than similar texts which have gone down the same path? I think for weaker players (under 1800) this is an excellent teaching book, but for others there really isn't much new material to justify its purchase.

Other reviews by Andy Ansel

Review 1: Learn Chess From The Greats, by Peter Tamburro, Jr.
Review 2: Winning With Reverse Chess Strategy, by William Reuter
Review 3: Shall We Play Fischerandom Chess?, by GM Svetozar Gligoric
Review 4: Learn From Your Chess Mistakes, by Chris Baker
Review 5: Bobby Fischer Rediscovered, by Andrew Soltis
Review 6: Chess Endings Made Simple, by Ian Snape

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted