The Gazette - May 2014

Sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation
Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Jeremy Silman’s Endgame Course Now Available in Braille

I’m pleased to be able to report that the RNIB have finished transcribing and made available for sale a Braille version of Jeremy Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. This book takes a different approach to endgame study. Instead of dealing with endgames by type (say a huge chapter on all conceivable sorts of rook and pawn endgames), it divides material up by rating. The first chapter is for beginners (ELO rating 0 to 999). After that each chapter covers a 200-point ELO rating band, so the next chapter is for those with an ELO rating of 1000 to 1199, the next for those between 1200-1399 and so on.

Everybody from beginners to master level can get something from this book. As an illustration of how basic it gets, it starts by showing beginners how to mate efficiently with two major pieces against a King and gives some hints on how to avoid some common stalemate traps. At the other end of the scale the most advanced material is an Endgames for Pleasure chapter showing endgame play by Lasker, Rubinstein, Capablanca, Smyslov and Fischer.

Because the material is divided up by rating, most of the various endgame types appear in most chapters. Even the chapter aimed at those at master level features a king and pawn endgame which Shirov couldn’t calculate at the board.

Another important aspect of the book is that the positions that are given are those which the author thinks are most likely to appear in the kinds of games played by people of a particular strength. The introduction to the book makes it clear that the reason for this is that it cuts down the amount of memorising needed to an absolute minimum. One result for this is that there are occasional omissions; for example mating with a bishop and knight against a lone king is not covered because the author thinks that the kind of person using this book will never get that position on the board.

I’ve just bought my own copy and am looking forward to working through the book. Although there has been a tendency to focus on openings books when getting things transcribed, I personally think this is one of the most valuable chess publications to appear in Braille for a while. Although it’s not uncommon for me to be outplayed in the opening or early middle game, I have managed to cling on to an endgame and found that my opponent’s lack of endgame experience means they either lose or are unable to finish me off. The reverse is also true. I’ve reached equal endgames against people who significantly outgrade me, only to lose the half point either because I don’t appreciate the principles relevant to the position or simply because I spend too much time calculating aspects of the ending which I didn’t know in advance and my flag falls. Let’s see if working through this book puts some of that right.

Guy Whitehouse.