The Sunshine Bouquet
by Michael McGuerty
Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics, Expanded Edition, by G. C. van Perlo, New In Chess 2014, Paperback, 607pp.
$34.95 (ChessCafe.com Price $29.70)
Dutch correspondence grandmaster Ger van Perlo (1932-2010) spent thirty years collecting endgames that caught his eye and had “a particular charm.” These were first published in the Dutch language in four volumes, and were collected into one volume for the 2006 English first edition of Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics. That first edition won both the ChessCafe.com Book of the Year Award and the ECF Book of the Year Award. It offered around 1,105 examples of endgame tricks and clever traps, and it was reprinted three times; the last in 2008.
This new fourth, expanded edition incorporates another 100-page manuscript from Van Perlo that had not yet been published in Dutch. This so-called “secret book,” Part V in the current volume, adds 270 new examples along with a series of exercises for self testing. This brings the page count to 607 pages, instead of 480 from the first edition. All told there are 1,375 examples, of which seventy-seven are given as exercises. Moreover, the material has been scrutinized and embellished by the New In Chess editorial team, and checked with Houdini 1.5 and endgame tablebases, which resulted in many updates to previous evaluations. The editors also took into account reader feedback from previous editions.
The main content is divided as follows:
- Part I Pawn Endgames
- Part II Queen Endgames
- Part III Rook Endgames
- Part IV Minor Piece Endgames
- Part V More Rook Endgames
The author’s attitude that endgames should be fun is expressed in the subtitle, A Comprehensive Guide to the Sunny Side of Chess Endgames. This outlook is also encapsulated in the statement on the back cover that entreats the reader to “sit back, forget about theoretical endgames, and enjoy the entertainment of real life chess in Endgame Tactics!”
As Van Perlo puts it, “Many players consider the study of the endgame a necessary evil. Resignedly, they plough their way through one or more standard works, restricting themselves to basic positions or, on the contrary, a few exceptionally ingenious studies. Most of them do not find it very exciting.
“Actually this is a pity, for in the endgame, too, there is a lot to be enjoyed and a thorough study of a great number of practical fragments has taught me that even this phase of the chess struggle can produce many different types of drama. Clever tactical tricks, gruesome blunders and other tragicomic scenes, it’s all possible. When after many hours of toil the end of the game is nigh, it is a difficult task for many to keep a clear head, to control their nerves and to make optimal use of the opportunities that present themselves.
“Especially a well-developed feeling for the multitude of tactical possibilities contained in the endgame often signifies the difference between a full point and an annoying zero!”
Let’s take a look at some examples from “Part III Rook Endgames”:
Again? you may ask. But there is no way to avoid them. I guarantee that you will see quite a few tragicomic scenes and that there
is much fun to be had.
Initially, we shall keep it simple and, with reference to the previous subject, blaze away with a few positions with rook + 1 pawn
We start with Drimer-Ciocaltea, Romania 1955. To his deep regret, Black saw that the win was gone. So, to please the crowd he
decided to play
and offered a draw with a smile, to which the first player immediately agreed. Still in the heat of the preceding battle, maybe struck by chess blindness, both had missed that after 2.Rxg8 h2 the stalemate can easily be evaded with 3.Kg3! (see diagram) Kg1 4.Kh3+ Kh1 5.Ra8.We elaborate on this theme with Badestein-Otto, Wernigerode 1952. Here also, things look simple and conveniently arranged. So Black merrily set off with:
1…Ke2 2.Re8+ Kd3
The ascent of the ladder, a well-known theme in endgame theory!
3.Rd8+ Ke4 4.Re8+ Kd5 5.Rd8+ Ke6 6.Rf8
Now pay attention. After the triumphant 6…f1Q it is actually perpetual check or a long king walk to try and avoid stalemate. Black saw this and avoided the trap with an underpromotion, always funny:
and there the fairy tale ended for White.
A combination of stalemate, mate and underpromotion we see in Gufeld-Gulko, Soviet Union 1984.1…Kf4 2.Kh3
Of course not 2.Rxg3 Rh8 mate, just to let you know.
2…g2 3.Kh2 Kf3!
It does not look good for White, so he tries
Unfortunately, Gulko found
to seal White’s fate.
By the way, any other underpromotion would also have sufficed.
Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics remains a terrific book that absolutely anyone can benefit from and enjoy. The prose is witty and instructive; the examples are well-chosen and delightful; and the new material is just icing on the cake. Owners of previous editions will be remiss if they do not purchase the new expanded edition.
My assessment of this product: Excellent
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by Ger van Perlo
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