Classification of Endgames

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Too many chess players focus too much on the openings and not enough on the endgame. While you can get an advantage in the opening, outplay your opponent in the middlegame and earn a winning position, none of that will matter if you cann’t finish off your opponent in the endgame. Bobby Fischer’s second Bill Lombardy once taught me how it is important to focus on transitions from the opening to middlegame and the middlegame to endgame.

As one enters an endgame and has a worse position, he needs to change his mindset from trying to win the game to trying to hold his own for a draw. 








It is now time to make some generalizations and categorize endgames and expected outcomes by piece type. In each scenario, let’s visualize that white has four pawns and black has three. Of course one cannot know expected outcome based on knowing 3-4 ratio but most often here the expected results:

  1. King and Pawn Endgame: 4 pawns wins 
  2. King, Knight and Pawn Endgame: 4 pawns wins 
  3. King, Bishop and Pawn Endgame: depends (opposite colored- draw, same-colored bishop- 4 pawns wins) 
  4. King, Rook and Pawn Endgame: good drawing chances for black (due to perpetual check chances)
  5. King, Queen and Pawn Endgame: good drawing chances for black (due to perpetual check chances) 

This classification of endgames is a guideline; certainly not a rule.

One needs to look at the actual position to see if the player with one less pawn has good drawing chances or not. However, this classification could be useful when trying to determine what endgames to try and transition into. For instance, most often a player down a pawn should not trade rooks when in a rook and pawn endgame.

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