Chess Book Review: Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual – 3rd Edition

Chess Book Review: Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual – 3rd Edition

I often receive emails asking for chess book recommendations. I have decided to review books I have found useful over the last few years in order to help chess players.

I previously reviewed Silman’s Amateur’s Mind and How to Reassess Your Chess 4th Edition.

This time I will review one of my favorite chess endgame books, Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual – 3rd Edition.

Mark Dvoretsky is a renown chess trainer and book author. This book itself could be considered as one of the so-called”Russian chess secrets.” This thorough piece covers essentially all of the endgame material required to master the endgame and is very dense. This book should be used to teach yourself the endgame, not just as a reference work.

The Chapters:

1. Pawn Endgames

2. Knight vs Pawns

3. Knight Endgames

4. Bishop vs Pawns

5. Opposite-Colored Bishops

6. Bishops of the Same Color

7. Bishop vs Knights

8.  Rook vs Pawns

9.  Rook Endgames

10. Rook vs Knight

11. Rook vs Bishop

12. Queen Endgames

13. Queen vs Rook

14. Other Material Relations

15. General Endgame Ideas

16. Solutions

Who should read this book?

Like most of Dvoretsky’s books, his endgame manual is not for novices.  It is the ideal endgame book for players rated between 1500 and 2100 USCF/FIDE. For players below 1500, I would recommend reading Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals which has a few introductory chapters on endgames as well as on other phases of the game. Silman’s Complete Endgame Course is also a great 1st endgame book; I’ll review it in the near future.

Outflanking, Opposition, Triangulation, Zugzwang,  Lucena, etc. If these words sound foreign to you in terms of chess, Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual is not for you.

In summary, intermediate and advanced players who wish to master chess some day should read Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual to boost their endgame skills!

Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual 3rd Edition retails for $34.95. This item is on sale for $28.34 at my bookstore.

Click here to order this book today!

Relative Piece Values

How much are the individual chess pieces worth?

Pawns are 1, Bishops & Knights are 3, Rooks are 5, and Queens are 9, right? All done? Nope. The value of the pieces change throughout phases of the game and depending on the specific combination of pieces, their evaluation as a whole may change.

We know 3 + 3 is 6.

Bishops thrive in open positions and are usually worth more than 3 points, let’s say, 3.3. However, having BOTH bishops in an open position (while the opponent doesn’t) gives you what we call the “Bishop Pair” which in fact can be worth about 7 points or even more.

3.3 + 3.3 = 7 !?  The specific bishop-bishop combination gives extra firepower.


Relativistic Piece Values

During the opening and middlegame, a bishop is superior to 3 pawns.

During the endgame, a bishop is about equal to 3 pawns.

During the opening and middlegame, a knight is equal to 3 pawns.

During the endgame, a knight is usually weaker than 3 pawns!

During the opening and middlegame, a rook is better than 5 pawns.

During the endgame, a rook is roughly equal to 5 pawns.

During the opening and middlegame:

R ≈ B + 2P ≈ N +2P

R + P < B + N

R + 2P ≈ B + N (7=6? – yes)

Q < 3 minor pieces

Q ≈ R + B + P

Q ≈ R + N + 2P

Q < 2R

Q > B + N + 3P

Q ≈ 2B + 3P

Q + P ≈ 2 R

Q + P ≈ 2 N + B

Q + P < 2B + N (10 is less than 9? – Yes sir)

2R ≈ 3 minor pieces

2R ≈ 2B + 3P

2R > N + B + 3P

2R + N ≈ R + 2B + P (The presence of a rook with the bishop pair increases its value)

2R + P < R + B + N

2R + 2P ≈ R + B + N

Most players tend to underestimate the value of the 2 bishops combined! By no means are these values absolute. Remember that the quality of the pieces also play a big role! But in terms of counting material, these ratios are fairly accurate. The ratios change in the endgames though so let’s take a look at that next.

During the Endgame:

R ≈ B + P

R > N + P

R ≈ N + 2P

R + P ≈ B + N

Q ≈ 3 minor pieces

Q ≈ R + B ≈ R + N + P

Q < 2R

Q > B + N + 3P

Q ≈ 2B +3P

Q + P = 2R

Q + P > 2N + B

Q + P = 2B + N

2R ≈ 3 minor pieces

2R ≈ 2B + 3P ≈ N + B + 3P

2R + N ≈ R + 2B + P

2R + P ≈ R + B + N

2R + 2P ≈ R + 2B

Whew! This might be an eye-opener for some readers… like the case where the 9 points on average was stronger than 10 points! That seems amazing until you realize that the original P=1, B=N=3, R=5, and Q=9 are fairly lazy approximations. Knowing these material values on top of piece quality on the board gives you the ability to evaluate positions more accurately.