Teacher's Games

Endgame Fundamentals: Teacher’s Games

By Donny Gray

One of the things I do for my students is analyze their tournament games.  It is a great way to help them improve, not only in their ending play, but in their opening and middlegame as well.  The first time I do a game for a new student I tell them, “NO CRYING when you get your game back with my notes!”  I pull no punches when I do games for students.  There is no sugar-coating.  If you make bad moves I will let you know about it.  You cannot improve if I do not tell you the truth.

I added the “no crying” to it because about a year ago I had a new student who quit after I did his first game.  He just could not bear to hear that he had made bad moves, so he quit lessons!  You might think he was about 6 years old with an attitude like that.  He was 35!  So now I tell all students, “NO CRYING!”

Recently a few of my students wanted to see some of my recent games.  Most likely, I guess, to see if the teacher practices what he preaches!  So I decided to show two recent games of mine, complete with analysis help from Komodo, the super chess computer program.  One is an over-the-board game from a recent tournament that I played in, and the other is a 5-minute game I played on the ICC (Internet Chess Club).


Recent Over The Board Tournament Game:

White: Gray
Black: 1750

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bc6 dc6




The Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez is one of my favorite openings.  Been playing it practically my whole chess career.  It was one of Bobby Fischer’s favorite openings, as well.  The idea behind this opening is to go straight for the ending.  Black will have 4 pawns to 3 on the queenside, but they are doubled on the c file.  This makes it almost impossible for them to create a passed pawn.  White on the other hand has 4 pawns to 3 on the king side.  Since they are not doubled, white can create a passer.  Also, most endings from this opening are knight vs. bishop, with me having the knight.  That is by far my favorite ending.  Can you imagine trying to play this as black against Fischer?! Think his knight could cause problems in the ending?

5.0-0 Bd6?!

Not best.  Better 5th moves for black are f6, Bg4, or Qd6.

6.d4 f6?

Going into uncharted waters now.  Better was 6.d4 ed.

7.de5 Be5 8.Qd8+ Kd8 9.Ne5 fe5

Black has problems now. His pawn structure is horrible.  White has something to work on while black will do nothing but defend for the rest of his life.  This is my dream scenario in a tournament game.


This gains control of the only open file on the board.  Komodo says it is better to first put pressure on the e-pawn as soon as possible with 10.b3 Ne7 11.Bb2 Ng6 12.Nd2 Re8 13.Nc4.  But my way seems to win as well.  Komodo is only 3450, so what does he know?!

Ke8 11.Bd2 Ne7 12.Bc3 Ng6 13.Nd2 Bg4 14.f3 Be6

Black’s e-pawn is a big weakness and is not going anywhere.  I just need to find a way to attack it even more.

15.Nf1 Kf7 16.Ng3 Rad8 17.b3 b6 18.Kf2 Rd6 19.Nf1 Rhd8 20.Ne3 Rd1 21.Rd1 Rd1 22.Nd1

Trading off the rooks can only be helpful to white.  The less pieces on the board, the more of a weakness the e-pawn will be.  I already have an extra pawn on the kingside, and if I win the e-pawn, as well, black is doomed.

Ke7 23.Nb2 Kd6 24.g3 c5 25.Ke3

In queenless endings, kings almost 100% of the time become fighting pieces and should go to the center of the board.

b5 26.f4!

I give black the option of ridding himself of his weak e-pawn!  However, if he does, I will then have either a win of a piece or the win of the g-pawn.  26.f6 ef and the threats of f5 winning a piece or Bg7 will destroy the black position.

b4 27.Be1 Bf7 28.Nd3 a5 29.c4!

This locks down the queenside pawns so that they become useless.  If he takes 29.c4 bc, then his pawns are horrible beyond description.

Be8 30.Bf2 ef4+ 31.gf4 Nf8 32.f5 Nd7 33.Bg3+ Kc6 34.e5 Nf8 35.Nf4 Kd7




White has the center, active pieces, and a dominating king about to occupy the center.  Black is pushed back to the back rank and has very little to do besides a tiny bit of defending.  The end is near.

36.e6+ Kc6 37.Ke4 Kb6 38.Nd5+ Kb7 39.Bc7 Bc6 40.Bd6 Resigns   1-0

Black has seen enough and decided to call it a day!




ICC 5 minute Game:

White: Gray
Black: 2215


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd4 4.Qd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5?!

Not the best in this opening!  Main line is 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Bc6 Bc6 8.Bg5 e6 9.OOO

6.Qe3 Be7 7.Bd2 Nc6 8.Bb5 0-0 9.Bc6




This is common in my games.  I prefer knights over bishops, and always try to take them to the ending where I have a knight vs. their bishop.  My knights love to terrorize opponents’ positions.  Some of my students may have noticed this in their exercises against me.

bc6 10.h3 Ba6 11.0-0-0 Qc7 12.g4

In opposite-side castling games, the name of the game is to be violent.  You must attack like a crazy man to survive these type games.  You must try to make as many attacking moves against his king as you can, and as few defensive moves as possible to protect your king.  Very rare for an opposite-side castle game to end in a draw.

Rab8 13.g5 Nd7 14.h4 Nb6 15.b3 Qb7 16.Be1

This is a rare backward move by me.  As students know, I usually fuss big time about moving backwards.  Most of the time chess is all about moving forward.  But here I had to create an escape route for my king.  Black is planning to sacrifice material just to get in a Qb2+ or Qb1+, which would be mate.  Now my king can avoid this sacrifice plan with Kd2, if need be.

d5 17.ed5 Nc4 18.Qe4 cd5 19.Nd5 Ba3+ 20.Kb1 Rfd8

Black has been attacking me like a crazed man hindering me from attacking him.  Now is the time to see how he likes it.


Better here was the simple 21.Ne5, but I was trying to work in a bishop-and-queen battery attacking the black king at some point.  Usually the best way to attack someone is to just start pointing all your pieces at the king.  Sooner or later you will find something that works.  Besides, Bc3 also allows some more defense for my king.  So it is a dual purpose move.

Bf8 22.Ne5 Nd6 23.Qg4 Nb5?

This looks good for black, but loses the game because of it!!





This knight sacrifice will rip open his king’s safety net.


If he takes, the following will happen: 24.Nf6+gh Kh8 26.Bb4, and black can resign


This is a very useful move.  It defends important squares for my king’s safety and continues to point towards the black king.

Rd1+ 26.Rd1 gf??

I guess the temptation to take this piece was just too much to bear.  It did not matter anyway, as black is completely busted.  Komodo the super computer says that white is up +10.  Of course, I did not know this at the time.  All I knew was I was liking my position more and more.

27.gf6 Re8 28.Rg1

Just about every move now threatens mate.  Black cannot stop them all.

Bh6 29.Nd7

I see now a way to mate black with a queen sack!!


Black had to play Qc6 to stop the forced mate.

30.Qg7+ Bg7 31.fg7+ Kg8 32.Nf6# 1-0




After a nice queen sacrifice, I get to say checkmate with my favorite piece: the knight!!  A cool ending to a tough game.  Now the students can see how the teacher plays!



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