Understanding Pawn Endgames (book review)


In 2022, Gambit Publications published Understanding Pawn Endgames by International Master Valentin Bogdanov. Bogdanov is from Ukraine and was the 2016 European Over-65 Champion.

The book is 160 pages (248 mm by 172 mm). It retails for $19.95. It is also available as an e-book ($9.95) and an app-book ($10.99).

Understanding pawn endgames

Endgame Errors

Understanding Pawn Endgames shows top chess players from different eras, from World Chess Champion (1921-1927) José Raúl Capablanca to Grandmaster and 2022 Candidate Hikaru Nakamura, making mistakes in pawn endgames. Almost all the examples are taken from games played after 1980.

Bogdanov wrote that most errors stem from mistakes in calculation. After Bogdanov shows the errors, he then provides the correct moves.

He wrote:


I should stress that the purpose of the book is not to belittle the level of play of the leading chess players. My hope is that acquainting my readers with typical mistakes will help them, even when there is limited time to think, to make the right decisions more often in their own games.

Following “rules of thumb” might be one cause of mistakes. For example, I have often heard the rule “passed pawns must be pushed.” In the following pawn endgame, Grandmaster Aleksandar Indjic pushed a passed pawn against Grandmaster Gata Kamsky. Indjic’s move was not the right choice in this position and led to a draw rather than a win.

Calculate to Win

After Bogdanov gave Indjic’s mistake, he also showed a winning move. In the diagrammed position, can you find the move that Bogdanov recommended?

Board Needed

While I could follow Indjic-Kamsky from its initial diagram, before 59. f5, to the conclusion of the game on move 64, I was not as successful with the book’s other endgames. Some lines after a diagram were too long for me to follow without a board and set.


I expected the chapters to be “king and pawn vs. king,” “king and two pawns vs. king,” “king and pawn vs. king and pawn,” etc. In other words, chapters varying by the quantity of pawns for each side. That’s not how Understanding Pawn Endgames is organized, so it might be difficult to use as a reference work.

This link, to a PDF of sample pages, gives the Contents and therefore the book’s organizational scheme. The PDF also includes the Indjic-Kamsky game featured in this book review. As that game shows, understanding mistakes and correct moves can be challenging.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

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