Chess endgame: definition, tactics and rules explained

by Pramith

The endgame in chess marks the final phase of a game with specific rules and tactics that can make the difference between victory and defeat

The endgame: meaning and rules

The endgame in chess is the phase in which the game is coming to an end and only a few pieces remain on the board. It is an extremely tactical phase that often makes the difference between victory and defeat.

  • The endgame is the last phase of a chess game after the opening and the middlegame. As a rule, many pieces have already been removed from the board – often only the kings, a few pawns and a few pieces remain.
  • Some games end in the middlegame, for example by checkmate after a mistake in the middlegame or by the resignation of one party.
  • An important rule for the endgame is the so-called “promotion”: If a pawn reaches the opponent’s back rank, it may be converted into any other piece, with the exception of the king.
  • The game is decided when one party resigns, time runs out or a king is in check and could inevitably be captured on the next move (“checkmate”).
  • A draw is also possible if one party can no longer make a legal move.

Tactics and tips

The endgame is all about precise planning and clever decisions. Specific techniques are used here to maximize your chances and prevent defeat.

  • Pawns are advanced in order to put pressure on the opponent and, if possible, to achieve a conversion (promotion) on the base line. With a new queen you are often certain to win
  • Use the king actively to support pawns and push away the opponent’s king.
  • In the endgame, efficient use of the remaining time is crucial. If time is short, quick, safe moves are the best choice to avoid risking defeat. If you have enough time, you should calculate your next moves carefully
  • Many endgame situations are clearly solved. You can learn and practise them.

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