Back to Back Issues Page
LCB, Issue #012 -- Use the Flowchart Technique to Hammer Your Opponents
May 01, 2012

Use the Flowchart Technique to Hammer Your Opponents

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #012 -- Hammer Your Opponents Like a Machine

learn and play online chess
Last month we spent time on bishop endgame knowledge. We looked at the bishop of opposite colors endgames. We saw how a bishop should defend against an enemy bishop of the opposite color and two connected pawns. We found that through working in tandem with it's king, the two could set up a fortress that the attacking side would find impossible to penetrate. We now know that in this endgame there is no forced win and defense is easy to achieve.

This month we're going to switch from purely theoretical mode into conceptual mode. You have stored up a lot of endgame positions in your head over the last few months. We can call them building blocks because you should consider them the foundation of your endgame knowledge.

Just about any endgame you ever find yourself in, no matter how complex it may seem, can transpose into one of these building blocks through simplification. The IM Jeremy Silman refers to this as the 'Flowchart Technique'. You convert one type of endgame into another through technique until you reach a building block position that you know how to play from memory. This time round we will see how to apply Silman's 'Flowchart Technique' to rook endgames.

Rook Endgame Building Blocks

As you cross that murky gray world between the middlegame and the endgame you will come across all sorts of complicated looking positions. It will be hard to judge just from a glance who is winning or if one player has a slight edge at all. When talking about writing, Stephen King likened telling a story to excavating a fossil. What he meant was he did not predetermine the plot or decide what would happen in advance. His characters would play out the drama in his imagination and he would merely record the events on paper. He would not interfere or influence events.

Moving from the middlegame to the endgame is a bit like the way King likes to unearth his stories. You don't bring in a JCB digger and indiscriminately dig it up in pieces, only then deciding what kind of endgame you want to construct out of the pieces. You look at a middlegame position and you think what kind of endgame is lurking under here? It's like an excavation where you carefully dig around it, using small hand held tools, brushing the dust away until it blinks in the sunlight.

You're left with an endgame that through good technique can be converted to a more basic building block in your internal endgame database stored in your head. Over time you will store up hundreds of these that you will be able to play perfectly. Many of these building blocks we have covered over these past few months. Every endgame you will ever play are positions that you will simplify from one type of endgame to another. As the pieces leave the board you are continually transposing, converting from one to another until inevitably you reach a familiar building block that you can play out flawlessly.

There are different families of building blocks from each type of endgame. There are numerous rook and pawn endgame building blocks as this is the most common endgame. From previous issues you will remember the Lucena Position and the Philidor Position which form the cornerstone of Rook and Pawn endgame theory. In recent months we did other well known Rook and Pawn endgames. I'm going to add six more Rook and Pawn Endgame Building Blocks and then we will look at how to simplify down to them from more complex positions.

Simplifying "Complex Endgames"

Now we're going to look at a couple of rook and pawn endgames that are not one our building blocks but have some of these building blocks lurking beneath the surface.

You now know which building blocks are won and which are drawn. When you look at these slightly more complex positions, you won't be able to tell instantly if the position is won or drawn. But if you can recognize what building block you can simplify down to you will know.

Take a look at the next two positions and before you play any moves try to figure out which building block the position is heading for. Then play out the moves of these "Complex Endgames" and see if you were right.

Simplifying Well Known Rook and Pawn Endgames

We can use Silman's Flowchart Technique and the age old chess principle of converting one type of advantage into another that better suits your needs as the game wears on. Or indeed if you're on the ropes and need to scrape a draw from a bad position you will be looking to transpose to known drawn endgames.

The first well known endgame we're going to simplify is the Rook and 2 Pawns vs Rook and 1 Pawn. You basically just trade down pawns until it's Rook and Pawn vs Rook. Then you play for the Lucena Position.

And we'll finish up by transposing a Bad Philidor to a Good Philidor. Your opponent is playing for the Lucena Position or something just as deadly. You're trying to take back control of the sixth rank by force and set up the Philidor Position or in it's stead, some equally drawn scenario.

If you do not have html based email software and you're using a text only system, you may find that the links are only partially highlighted and may not work. If this is the case, simply copy and paste the entire link into the browser and hit Enter. That should get you where you want to go.
Comments, ideas, feedback? I'd be stoked to hear from you.

Get in touch

See you next month.


Back to Back Issues Page