EG Magazine. Published by ARVES (The Dutch-Flemish Association for Endgame Study). Subscriptions are €25/yr. Pay via Paypal to <firstname.lastname@example.org> or inquire with Marcel Van Herck, treasurer, at the same e-mail address. The ARVES website is <www.arves.org>.
Many players like solving studies. It is pleasant to try one’s strength and to look for the single, non-obvious and beautiful way of winning. Not only pleasant, but also useful!
The epigraph comes from Mark Dvoretsky’s first book in English, Secrets of Chess Training, published way back in 1990. This book was famously not about training per se, but rather it focused on three key aspects of analytical excellence: the endgame, adjournments (which no longer exist in the age of the silicon monster) and endgame studies. This third section was perhaps the most surprising of the three. Endgames studies are composed positions with specific stipulations – White is to win or draw. Unlike problems, the number of moves to complete the stipulation is not specified. And besides being difficult to solve, good studies are usually quite beautiful.
Dvoretsky believes that studies are very good training fodder for players looking to improve. His trademark idea, explained in that early book, was to have two of his students play a study out against each other as if it were a real game and without knowing the stipulation. No small number of cooks (errors) were found in this way. You find a handful of studies in most of Dvoretsky’s more recent works, including his Endgame Manual and the new 2nd edition of his Analytical Manual. He also co-authored a dramatically underrated book specifically about studies – Studies for the Practical Player: Improving Calculation and Resourcefuless in the Endgame – with Oleg Pervakov, one of the leading study authors in the world today.
Dvoretsky is not alone. It would seem that Magnus Carlsen trained for the recent World Championship by solving endgame studies. Check out the position he showed on Twitter in August as an example of how he was preparing for Anand. White is to move and win.
(Here’s the answer, by the way. Note that this position was an award winner in a composition tournament dedicated to Dvoretsky’s 60th birthday!)
There are many books on studies available if you look hard enough. Kasparian’s two books – Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies and the newer 888 Miniature Studies – are among the best, and Jan Timman’s The Art of the Endgame is a wonderful book that seems to have fallen stillborn from New in Chess’ press. There is also a quarterly magazine devoted specifically to the endgame study.
This magazine is EG, published in the Netherlands by a Dutch study association. Its editor is Harold van der Heijden, the mastermind behind the essential study database HHDB. The magazine is the periodical of record for the world of studies, and I can hardly think of a better specialized magazine in chess or any other topic for that matter. Each issue is a labor of love for its authors and editors, and this love shows on every page.
What’s in EG? Each mailing consists of the magazine proper along with (in most cases) a ‘supplement’ that contains summaries of awards given in study competitions from around the world. The magazine contains a few standard elements:
- ‘Originals,’ with new studies submitted to EG;
- ‘Spotlight,’ which is a hodge-podge of cooks, news, and opinions;
- various contributions by Emil Vlasak on issues related to chess and computers;
- obituaries of leading figures in the study world
- summaries of the most important awards or solving tournaments
- original articles about historical OTB and study tournaments, specific themes in studies, historical personalites, etc.
In the April 2014 issue there are 63 studies (along with 103 in the supplement) given as diagrams with full answers. They are scattered amidst three obituaries, an article on pawn endings in the studies of Vitaly Kovalenko, and a fascinating piece on news in the world of endgames and tablebases by Vlasak. Yochanan Afek’s study from the Timman 60 JT – also named 2012 Study of the Year – is one of the highlights of the issue. White is to move and win; the answer is here (and it’s well worth your time).
Endgame studies are not everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes they have an artificial taste about them, and sometimes they’re just too complicated for mortals like me to solve. If, however, you are interested in beauty in chess, you might consider having a look at some studies. If you want to improve your analytical skills and your imagination, you should definitely consider solving some studies and perhaps even start solving. And if you get into studies, you should absolutely consider subscribing to EG. It’s a fantastic magazine, a great value for the price, and it opens up a little corner of the chess world that you just might start to call home.