Golembek’s Encyclopedia of Chess defines an Endgame Study as “a composed position where the play shows a forced win or draw in a unique manner.” Golembek writes, “at its highest level the study is an art form where strict canons of originality, variety, harmony and beauty may apply.” The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper and Whyld suggests that “study composition reached a high level during the great days of Islamic chess in the 9th and 10th centuries” and “lay almost neglected until the 19th century.”
Studies differ from chess problems in that they are more closely related to positions that could arise over-the-board and the solution does not require a pre-determined number of moves. Compared to positions that could arise in actual play, the study is usually more subtle and every unit should be essential to the solution. As Beasley and Whitworth write in Endgame Magic, “a study has the cultivated intensity of a short story.” The World Chess Federation, FIDE, now recognizes skill in study composing by awarding GM, IM, and FM titles for study composition.
The aim in each position is to achieve a win or a draw, and, unless it is otherwise noted, it is always White to move. ChessCafe.com is pleased to present a weekly endgame study for your enjoyment. All endgame studies are available for download in the ChessCafe.com Archives.
Endgame Study #914
White to Play
Many of the featured endgame studies can be found in the fourth edition of Harold van der Heijden’s endgame study database. With 76,132 entries, it is the most comprehensive collection of endgame studies available.
If you are interested in endgame studies, look into the endgame study magazine EG. The complete PDF archives of EG Volumes 1-152 are available online, as is the complete run of British Endgame Study News.
1.Ke4! a2 2.Ra8 [2.Rg1? Kh2 3.Ra1 Kg3!] 2…Kg4 [2…Kg3 3.Kf5! h3 4.Ra3+ Kg2 5.Kg4] 3.Ra7!! [This cool waiting move is the only way to win. – Aagaard, in Grandmaster Preparation: Endgame Play. 3.Ra6? h3 4.Rg6+ Kh5! 5.Rg1 h2 6.Rh1 Kg4; 3.Rg8+ Kh3 4.Ra8 Kg4 does not achieve anything for White. – Aagaard, in Endgame Play] 3…h3 [3…Kg3 4.Kf5! Aagaard extends this in Endgame Play: 4…h3 5.Ra3+! Kg2 6.Kg4 h2 7.Rxa2+ Kg1 8.Kg3 h1N+ 9.Kf3+-] 4.Rg7+ [4.Rxa2? Kg3] 4…Kh4 [4…Kh5 5.Kf5! Kh6 (The main line in Endgame Play is 5…Kh4 6.Kf4 Kh5 7.Ra7!? h2 8.Kg3! h1Q 9.Rh7++-) 6.Rg1] 5.Kf4! Kh5 6.Rg1 Kh4 7.Rh1 1-0