Some openings often lead to "unbalanced" endgames, where both white and black have their advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, in the Berlin endgame, white has a lead in development and a better pawn structure, while black has the bishop pair.

Are there other openings in which one of the (main) lines results in an unbalanced endgame?

  • Perhaps it's just me, but I find the usage of 'lead in development' and 'endgame' in the same sentence rather peculiar.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 17:15
  • 6
    "Before the endgame the gods have placed the middlegame" - Siegbert Tarrasch
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 18:16

5 Answers 5


First note that it is impossible to force your opponent into an endgame - chess doesn't work like that. Second, strategically the endgame may be one of the better choices for the opponent eg in the Berlin Defence the consensus on White best option is between the Berlin endgame and the Anti Berlin 4.d3, or equally it may not be, which doesn't mean you can't play it anyway if you like endgames. For examples of opening ideas that lead to unbalanced endgames see the games of Kramnik for example

Kramnik-Timman Wijk aan Zee 1999.

  [StartPly "7"]
  [FEN ""]
  [Event "Wijk aan Zee"]
  [White "Vladimir Kramnik"]
  [Black "Jan Timman"]   

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 dxc4 7.Nxc6  Qxd1+ 8.Nxd1 bxc6

Kramnik-Van Wely Wijk aan Zee 2001

  [StartPly "7"]
  [FEN ""]
  [Event "Wijk aan Zee"]
  [White "Vladimir Kramnik"]
  [Black "Loek Van Wely"]   

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3
7.bxc3 c5 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rc1 cxd4 11.cxd4 Qxd2+

Kramnik-Tomashevsky Tal Memorial 2012

  [StartPly "7"]
  [FEN ""]
  [Event "Tal Memorial"]
  [White "Vladimir Kramnik"]
  [Black "Evgeny Tomashevsky"]    

1.Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 a6 5. e3 e6 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 c5 8. O-O b5 9. Be2 Bb7 10. dxc5 Qxd1 11. Rxd1

All of which won by White. These games are main lines - at least the last two are. I'm not too sure about the English opening in the first game.


Another possibility is the "Colle Endgame" that most Colle players keep in their back pocket. The idea behind it is when Black plays actively in the center, often White can exchange the d & e pawns for Black's c & d pawns. The resulting offside majority (abc vs ab) can be quite strong, since typically both kings are on the kingside.


There's a line in the Alapin variation that leads to an unbalanced endgame:

      [FEN ""]
      [StartPly "1"]

      1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.dxc5 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1 e5 8.b4 e4 9.h3 Bh5 10.g4 Nxg4 11.hxg4 Bxg4 12.Nbd2 exf3


One of the Scottish main lines leads to an unbalanced endgame. Ok, every mainline leads to a balanced position, but at least the material is unbalanced. ;-)

Here an example from the '13 Candidates between Svidler and Ivanchuk:

[FEN ""]
[Event "2013 Candidates"] 
[White "Svidler"]
[Black "Ivanchuk"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5
Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 Ba6 9. g3 g6 10. b3 Bg7 11. Bb2 O-O-O
12. Bg2 Rhe8 13. O-O Bxe5 14. Qxe5 Qxe5 15. Bxe5 Rxe5 16. cxd5
Bxf1 17. Kxf1 cxd5 18. Nc3 c6 19. Rc1 Kb7 20. Na4 a5 21. Bf3
Kc7 22. Nc5 Ree8 23. Rc2 Ra8 24. Rd2 Re7 25. Rd4 Rae8 26. Nd3
g5 27. Ra4 Kb6 28. Rd4 Kc7 29. Ra4 Kb6 30. Rd4 Kc7 1/2-1/2

Games that lead to unbalanced endgames are usually unbalanced early in the game.

For instance, in the "exchange" variation of the Ruy Lopez (an early Bxc6), Black gets a bishop pair at the expense of doubled pawns on the fourth move.

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