09 April 2018


During Inland Chess Academy's Spring Break Chess Camp last week, I presented four sessions. My topics were weakness, patterns, coordination, and finishing. The following is an outline of the fourth, finishing. Click on the links for some of my previous posts that expound upon some of these techniques.


To score well consistently in chess competition, you need to have the skill to convert an advantage into a win. Often, also, you need to hold a draw when you have a slight disadvantage.

To develop this skill, learn (in approximately this sequence):

Checkmate with heavy pieces—two rooks or rook and queen
Checkmate with one heavy piece
Winning and drawing positions and techniques when one side has a single pawn (opposition and outflanking)

Black to move
Black draws with best play
Winning techniques when one player has a pawn majority on one flank and an equal number of pawns on the other flank
Use of opposition and outflanking to secure the win or hold the draw when both sides have the same number of pawns
Some stalemate ideas when kings and pawns are all that remain
Checkmate with two bishops
Holding the draw with Philidor’s idea in rook and pawn against rook
Winning from the so-called Lucena position (building a bridge)
Queen versus advanced pawn—winning techniques and positions, drawn positions and techniques
Tactical tricks in rook endings (and the corresponding drawing ideas)
Checkmate with knight and bishop*
Queen versus rook—elementary winning positions and ideas

Of course, these skills are only a beginning, but they are a very important beginning. These skills are called fundamental because they are the foundation upon which you can build lasting skill. Without this foundation, your success in the opening and middle game will often crumble in disappointment.

*Jeremy Silman does not agree that this skill is necessary


  1. In my opinion, it is a bit sacrilegious to say mating with B and N is not necessary to learn.

    Silman may be right that it's an impractical thing to spend time on, but to me the ending is an important piece of truth in chess. Also, it's quite easy to learn--you just have to learn and understand basically one line (how to mate from the position with W:Kf6, Nf7, Bh7 and B:Kf8), compared to something like Q vs R, which is much harder to learn properly.

    Basically, if someone doesn't know this ending, I question his curiosity about chess.

    AND, I should add that I finally reached the ending in a game for a lifetime first, against the computer on a Delta flight last week, and converted it easily. But, I admit I sacked a couple pawns to get there :)

    1. I should add that on second thought, I of all people have some pronounced holes in my chess knowledge (basic understanding of certain major openings, famous games and players), and I shouldn't be so quick to say if a player doesn't know X, he's not curious about chess.

  2. Well said, Todd.

    This winter at a youth tournament, one player had bishop and knight two rounds in a row. He was defending in the first and trying to win it in the second. The result was two draws.

    In one of those games, a player missed a checkmate in four.