Friday, January 10, 2014

Bruce Pandolfini - Pandolfini's Endgame Course Revision 1 Complete

I started my first revision of this book on November 27th, and finished it on January 10th (44 days).  The book contains 239 technical endgame positions, generally 1 position and explanation per page.

Section 1 features elementary, checkmates, Queen vs Rook and Rook vs Minor Pieces problems.  The highlight of this section is the Philidor Rook + Bishop vs Rook position, which caused me the most trouble.

Section 2 features King and Pawn Endgames.

Section 3 features piece and Pawn endgames and is the largest section of the book.  Lucena, Philidor and Centurini are all here.

I divided the book into 4 sections of 54-58 problems each:

Set A: The non-trivial problems from Section 1, plus the first part of Section 2.
Set B: The remainder of Section 2.
Set C: The first half of Section 3.
Set D: The second half of Section 3.

This book contains LOTS of typos, but there is only one busted position.  Typos aside, I thought this was an excellent book and any beginner should be able to tackle this book and learn a great deal from it.  It more or less covers the same topics as Silman's Complete Endgame Course up through the Class A section.  If you want a workbook to supplement the material in Silman's book, this is a good place to get it.

And here's the final stats in chart form:

Set A:

Initial score of 77.2% with a peak of 91.2% after pass 3.  A slight dip to 87.7% after pass 6.  My struggles with this set was mainly around the multiple Philidor R+B v R problems.  After some supplemental repetitions play against Houdini, I was able to all but eliminate my weakness there.  The problems I got wrong on the last repetition were mainly random problems that I usually was good on, but may have gone a little too fast and overlooked something.  I tried to grade myself harshly on these.

Initial score of 46.6% with a peak of 96.6% after pass 3.  A slight dip to 93.1% after pass 6.  I forgot to record the results for pass 4. I started off very poorly with this assortment of King and Pawn endgames, but the material is obviously pretty easy to learn and retain after pass 1.  I didn't experience any recurring issues with any particular problems in this set.

Initial score of 66.1% with a peak of 100% after pass 5.  A slight dip to 91.4% after pass 6.  No recurring issues with problems in this set.

Initial score of 37% with a peak of 90.7% after pass 5.  A slight dip to 85.2% after pass 6.  I had multiple recurring issues with problems in this set.  Rook and Pawn endgames can be pretty hard.  And even when you get the solution down that Pandolfini gives, Houdini sometimes has other ideas.  I did multiple supplemental repetitions with Houdini here to help me learn the material, which was reflected in the big gain between pass 4 (72.2%) and pass 5 (90.7%).

Overall, I finished with a final score of 89.4% across all sets, which I am pretty happy with.  I didn't time these, and the solutions can sometimes be pretty involved with lots of alternate defenses to work through.  I have scheduled a second revision starting on February 22nd, 44 days after I finished the last repetition of revision 1.  I plan to do 1 or maybe 2 repetitions for each set, depending on my retention.  I hope to still be in the ~90% range.

I'm now in search of a 2nd endgame problems book.  I'm currently working through James Howell's Essential Chess Endings.  Yes, I paid $80 to get this out of print book.  There's probably similarly good books out there, but Silman once listed this as one of his 3 essential endgame books to learn from.  It's similar to Silman's endgame book, but the explanations and examples are more detailed.  It's not much of a problem book, since there's only 48 exercises.

Potential candidates for my next problem book are:
200 multiple choice problems.  From the Amazon preview they look pretty basic and possibly a step down from Pandolfini.

This looks like the Endgame version of Bain's Chess Tactics for Students.  Endgames broken down into 15 chapters, with a short introduction to the theme followed by 16 problems.  There's a final comprehensive quiz at end.  There looks to be 258 problems in this book of similar difficulty as Pandolfini with a few harder ones per chapter.

451 graded problems.  I can't really tell from the Amazon preview since they mostly showed the easy and moderate problems.  Seems like a contender.

Ger Van Perlo - Endgame Tactics
Considering the awards this book has won, this should be a very good book.  1300 endgame problems and it looks like it might be a good book to read after I finish with Howell.  The new edition doesn't come out until May.  But I was also planning on reading the Shereshevsky book after Howell.  I guess we'll see.


  1. Rosen's book is probably what you're looking for.

    The puzzles are not that easy though (I would say level 1500-2200) - in every chapter there are half relatively easy positions and half much more difficult ones.

    But they are grouped by themes, which is convenient to structure your work and helps your learning (in contrast Hall's positions are more or less in random order)