100 Endgames You Must Know

Jesus de la Villa

Reviewer: John Donaldson
New In Chess
248 pages

When I started playing chess in the early 1970s you could easily count the number of books on the endgame in English on one hand and the best, BASIC CHESS ENDINGS by Reuben Fine, was more of a reference work than a teaching tool. Much has changed since then and the past decade has seen the publication of many fine works including some excellent endgame instructional manuals by Mark Dvoretsky, Jeremy Silman and James Howell to name just three. Add another book to this list: 100 ENDGAMES YOU MUST KNOW by GM Jesus de la Villa.

This is the first book I have seen by GM de la Villa and he makes a good impression. With so many instructional endgame books to choose from it is useful to have some criteria to compare them. To my mind the student needs an author who is thoroughly versed in the material, selects clear examples, and communicates effectively. It is also quite useful if the book is practical and not unnecessarily long. A sense of humor certainly doesn’t hurt. If one of these parts of the puzzle is missing the book will not accomplish its goal.

de la Villa does the job quite well. He emphasizes the practical and prefers understanding to memorization. You won’t find two Knights versus pawn but you will find the frequently occurring Rook and Bishop versus Rook. de la Villa takes time to explain how to mate with Bishop and Knight. Each of the endings he examines has a conclusion at the end that ties things together.

100 ENDGAMES YOU MUST KNOW offers basic and final tests at the beginning and end of the book, which are quite useful diagnostic tools. The book also benefits from de la Villa’s lively prose style.

Players from 2000 up to International Master will find 100 ENDGAMES YOU MUST KNOW quite useful.