How to improve chess endgame? (20 awesome tips)

To improve in endgames one must have a dedicated studying plan following the 20/40/40 rule (20% in openings, 40% in middlegames, and 40% in endgames). A player needs to study endgame mating patterns to convert a winning position and learn rook endings since it is the most common endgame.

Having a dedicated studying plan, learning basic endgame principles, recognizing positions that usually appear, and analyzing with the engine are the ways to improve one’s chess endgame.

Endgames in chess appear to be a tedious slow phase in the game where things don’t happen as much. However it has veen consistently proven to be the most important phase in chess. The best chess players are all masters of the endgame.

The things is, the endgame is as complicated as the textbook nature of the opening, in this article I will show you how to take it to the next level. There are ways you can do to be be better in endgames by knowing certain tips within this article.

I’m going to show the complete one now. Here are the ways to improve your chess endgame:

1.) Make an effort to learn endings

The primary reason why people don’t progress as quickly in endgames is they don’t make an effort to do so.

A studying routine that primarily focuses on a specific aspect is the best way to improve in any area and chess is not an exception.

Substitute any learning material you have with any endgame study and it will make a heaven of difference.

2.) Master basic endgame principles

Endgame like the opening and the middle game host a variety of principles that serve as a guideline for players.

Learn such principles in order for you to have a simple understanding of how endgames are played.

Here are some of them:

Mating the King with limited pieces
Activation of the King
Opposition
Lucena position
Triangulation
Phillidor position
Piece activity
Endgame pawn structures

Having an understanding of these aspects will greatly boost your capabilities in this stage of the game.

3.) Start simple then complicated

The reason why it is challenging to even start is people don’t usually understand the concepts.

One of the primary reasons for this is the lack of progression, they start learning complicated ideas before even grasping the basics.

I recommend doing simple endings first so you will be more equipped to digest more complex problems, here is an example of a basic to complex scheme:

Order Endgame concept
King and pawn vs. King
Advanced King and pawn endgames
Promotion race
Opposition
Triangulation

4.) Study positions that frequently appear

One common mistake that people make in learning endgames are studying things that they don’t get to use.

Spending countless hours memorizing a hypothetical position that will never appear is a waste of time.

Instead you should make your intentions targeted like a sniper— minimum effort, maximum results.

Here are some endgame positions that frequently appear:

Pawn endings
Same colored Bishop endings
Opposite colored Bishop endings
Bishop vs. Knight endings
Rook endings
Queen vs Rook endings
Queen vs. Queen endings

5.) Absorb drawn endgames

Missing a win through a drawing endgame tactic is a common occurrence that can be witnessed at this stage.

Adding to that you could also draw from a losing positions getting away with the skin of your teeth.

There are many ways to intentionally set the position as drawn, just do a couple of searches online and you should find it.

Insider tip: Oppositions and opposite color bishop endgames are some of the common ways to draw, if you want to learn opposition click here (will open in a new tab).

6.) Solve endgame puzzles

Just like tactical puzzles there are endgame puzzles to sharpen your visualization in spotting popular concepts.

Play those puzzles, it will further develop your ability to fight endings in your own games.

It makes studying a little bit of fun too since this format is generally considered entertaining.

7.) Put your endgames on an engine

The chess engines are the strongest companions you can have in the area of deep analysis, use it.

Take any ending that you’ve studied or encountered and put it in a chess computer for evaluation.

It will give you a lot of interesting insights on how to approach that particular position.

8.) Play a winning endgame against an engine

I have mentioned how the chess engines are the most precise partners but they can also be your opponents.

Of course you shouldn’t expect to crush an engine in an open thorough game, but a winning position should be winning even against an engine.

This is a great opportunity to test your abilities since you will have to convert winning positions in real games.

9.) Pick a resource that compliments your level

This is similar to starting from simple positions into more complex ones.

A lot of chess books/ Youtube videos focus on ideas that are not friendly to beginners which may not be applicable to you.

Identify your current status in this particular area and absolutely choose learning materials that are suitable for you.

10.) Absorb slim but helpful chess materials

I’ve seen a lot of people quit absorbing their chess mediums due to inability to finish them.

Again quality is more important than quantity (although quantity is still essential) and your efforts should be more targeted.

Do not go the other way though and digest surface-level informational content that doesn’t provide sufficient work.

11.) Watch targeted YouTube videos

Youtube is a great place to find interesting tutorials related to chess and you should use that.

It is free, extensive, and there are a lot of good channels out there that cover the concepts sufficiently.

However I want to remind you that the learning should be “targeted” don’t fall for unrelated shiny objects along the way.

12.) Observe top endgame samples

What better learning exists out there than watching how the best do it?

There are certain intricacies that are only present over the board which watching top games will likely address.

Plus you are more likely to observe endgames that you wouldn’t have searched for otherwise broadening your repertoire

13.) Practice reaching endgames in real games

This is the reason why only a tad amount of players actually improve in endgames because they rarely get to play it.

Most of them will avoid exchanges leading to the endgame or will just resign in a losing middlegame.

Try reaching the endgame if possible in your own games so you could actually apply the things you’ve learned.

14.) Learn your endgame’s win rate

You need to have a good idea of your actual level in order to find appropriate materials to work with.

In order to do this you need to learn how many endgames you’ve actually won over the losses.

This would give you interesting insights on how to move forward with your approach.

15.) Practice alone and analyze endings

This one is for people who are more comfortable studying things on their own.

Analyze your own games or other people’s games, since when you’re alone you are likely to focus on things that matter.

This would make your tasks done more quickly due to the flexibility of being alone.

16.) Find a friend and play common endings

This one is for people who like to share experiences with others and get inspiration from them.

It could be a friend, a club member, or a coach that would provide a perspective that is not available to you.

By learning together you can fill each other’s gaps and create the solutions.

17.) Play endgames on a board

Playing online is of course a good option at some moment in time, but nothing can replace a good old board.

There is a different feeling when playing in a way that you can touch the pieces and you should familiarize that feeling.

It would make endgames appear a little bit less “alien” so you’re quick on your feet when dealing with the positions

18.) Train to be calm in time troubles

What is commonly encountered at the end phase of the game? time trouble where the clock is ticking and pressure is on.

Being able to stay composed and rationalize every single move as quickly as possible is important.

Any endgame that you’ve absorbed will not be applied if you fall to the perils of time so learn to thrive in it.

19.) Treat endgame as a workable aspect

This also is a reason why most people do not improve in the endgame, they just give up right away.

Of course they know that they can be better but they instead choose to master the middle game avoiding late games altogether.

This is a dangerous way of thinking since the endgame is where the winner is usually decided not in the middle game.

20.) Make learning interesting

Any studying routine that you’ve set will be for naught if you don’t actually follow through with it.

This is why it’s important to add the element of fun, which is why I recommended finding a friend if possible.

This would make you more interested to accomplish your goals and therefore more likely to improve in general.

Final thoughts

The endgame is the most important part of any chess game that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.

This makes it really rewarding for people who are willing to put in the work since there’s less competition.

I want you to be the one that’s putting in the work, in order to get ahead of others and get your goals.

I need work to my endgame too though, sleep well and play chess.

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