Endgame Essentials: Making Your Opponent Press the Self-Destruct Button

Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably knew what was coming: endgames! Last Tuesday, I had an instructive win with Black against a lower rated player at the Wild Card Open. While my opponent was guilty of playing for a draw, he did put up some tough resistance in the endgame, which made it fitting to cover in today’s edition of Endgames Essentials.

For long-time readers of Chess^Summit, you may be familiar with my Endgame Essentials series that I started last year, studying the games of Magnus Carlsen and other top level Grandmasters. For our newer readers, welcome! In Endgame Essentials, I focus more on endgame technique than converting technical positions. So far, I’ve discussed critical factors like pawn structure, king safety, and piece activity which can effect the overall assessment of a position.

But let’s say you have the advantage – you’ve done your homework: induced a weakness, gotten a small material advantage, or stopped all of your opponent’s counterplay. How do you convert from here? Sometimes its a good idea to let your opponent hit the self-destruct button…

Perhaps Napoleon says it best:

“…when your enemy is executing a false movement, never interrupt him.”

– A biographical magazine from 1852 quoting Napoleon Bonaparte

While Napoleon was never considered a member of the chess elite, this is actually great advice, especially for practical endgame play! If you have a long-term advantage in the endgame, it is your opponent’s responsibility to generate dynamic counterplay and change the nature of the game. So be patient and don’t complicate the position!

This idea of being patient during endgames is exactly what I wanted to talk about in my game from last Tuesday. I’ve made a video recap with my thoughts, but if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, you can play through the game here at your own pace!

As I repeated throughout the video – if you know you have the better position, let your advantages accumulate before doing anything drastic in the position. And never – ever – let your opponent get counterplay.

The Next Chapter

Whether it’s the night-time view from Mt Washington (see cover photo) or watching the Pirates get blanked by St Louis, there’s a lot to do in Pittsburgh!

My next test in the Wild Card Open is a toughie. Remember FM Gabe Petesch? I’ll have White in my chance to avenge my two-game match defeat from earlier this month. I’m not sure what to expect, but I think it should be a fun, hard-fought game … and hopefully something worth sharing on Chess^Summit!


My mentality for this tournament is reminiscent of my Columbus Open performance, but the added wrinkle of playing opponents I know well makes this event much more challenging than the latter. While I will be pushed in ways I haven’t really been pushed before, my goal is to play smart chess, and be on the right track to play good chess in Cleveland – the finale to my summer.


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