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Space in the Endgame

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | 11.07.2013
  • | 12422 Aufrufe
  • | 22 Kommentare

There is a well-known advice that when you have less space you should trade pieces. In many positions this is true, but quite often trades simply remove your source of counterplay and allow the opponent to consolidate his space advantage. In queenless positions and endgames a space advantage can be very valuable. Even if your opponent does not have enough pieces to be "cramped", the space advantage can still convey superiority in other ways - even the elementary concept that your pawns are closer to queening than your opponent's can be an important factor, meaning that your threats are more "real".

We will now see some examples of a space advantage in the endgame, and in part 2 we will be examining some positions on the opposite side of the coin - in which a player is overextended.

First, here is a beautiful ending by Ulf Andersson which illustrates the advantages of controlling more of the board in stark fashion:

Endgame virtuoso Ulf Andersson

The following ending could hardly be called a queenless middlegame, since both sides only have a rook. But each side also has seven pawns, so there is no question of a theoretical position, and exact calculation does not play such a huge part in the game - rather, planning does. White first restricts the black pieces, then using some zugzwang themes clears out the kingside, creating a passed pawn to temporarily divert the black king, and then makes a turning movement to the queenside. This shows the advantages of superior space in the endgame clearly.

Finally, the decisive game from the 2004 World Championship. Kramnik needed to win to retain his title, while Leko only needed a draw. On the verge of becoming world champion, Leko was probably nervous, made some inaccuracies, and allowed Kramnik to create a space advantage in the ending. Kramnik took this space advantage to its logical conclusion - controlling all of the space around his opponent's king.

The 2004 World Championship | Photo Kramnik.com


  • GM Dejan Bojkov's Greatest Chess Minds Part 2 and Part 4 on space in the endgame
  • GM Gregory Kaidanov's Learn to Love It: How to Study the Endgame! with a game by Ulf Andersson
  • GM Josh Friedel's Endgame Technique: Zugzwang
  • GM Melikset Khachiyan's Structural Thinking 4: Planning the Endgame!


  • vor 22 Monate


    nice one!

  • vor 23 Monate


    Nice Article

  • vor 23 Monate


    Nice Article

  • vor 23 Monate


    Very instructive. Thanks IM Bryan Smith.

  • vor 23 Monate


    1.e4 c5 is what i play on king pawn openings

  • vor 23 Monate


    "... the famous Capablanca-Tartakower game"? Was that in a previous article, couldn't find it. Do you mean this one? http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1102104

    As always, really enjoy your articles. Thanks!

  • vor 23 Monate


    Great piece

  • vor 23 Monate


    once again, another great article. thanks!Foot in Mouth

  • vor 23 Monate


    I have fond memories of the following game - opponent helped a lot, but position after white's 33th move exemplifies space advantage pretty well. White threatens pawn break on both wings.

  • vor 23 Monate


    Very intersting endgame theory Great article.Smile

  • vor 23 Monate


    I like the idea of referencing "related study material" at the end of the article.

  • vor 23 Monate


    great one

  • vor 23 Monate


    uh what?

  • vor 23 Monate


    cool article

  • vor 23 Monate


    At first I was confused.  Why would White leave himself open to a knight fork in the first game?  Then I realized that it's not even the fact that Black forks the rooks after 51. ...Nxe5.  Rather, after 52. fxe5 White's rook is facing both of Black's rooks, protected by his partner.  Then Black can't just play ...Rxf3 to win a rook with check.  If he tries it anyway, he ends up trading all the rooks off of the board.  This was the point behind 51. Rdd3.

  • vor 23 Monate


    Very interesting.

  • vor 23 Monate


    incredible games/situations

  • vor 23 Monate


    obrigado! e de grande valor.

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