I am a beginner (approximately 1400) seeking to improve my endgame technique. Which one of these books would you recommend as suitable for my strength and why?

  • 100 Endgames you must know by Jesus de la Villa
  • Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner to Master by Jeremy Silman

I have to say that in general I don't like Silman's writing style and methods at all (i.e. Reassess your chess), but then again, this is endgames - and hence a different topic.

  • 1
    I don't like Silman's writing style and methods any more than you do. His endgame book, an early edition of which I own, is better than his better-known midgame book; but I have never yet found any endgame book I liked, including Silman's. Unfamiliar with Villa, I would say that you might try Villa, insofar as Silman is the alternative. Silman's book isn't useless, though: it's better than nothing.
    – thb
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:03
  • when you get about 2000 rating, I recommend Dvoretsky's endgame manual. Jul 5, 2016 at 20:33
  • @CognisMantis I think there is plenty of time until I reach 2000. If I ever reach it :-)
    – ndbd
    Jul 6, 2016 at 7:58
  • Some book is better than no book. Both books are better than just one of them. Basic Chess Endings by Fine is the classic that covers everything. Read it after those two.
    – yobamamama
    Dec 16, 2019 at 16:37
  • Does this answer your question? (practical) Endgame resources: What's next after josh waitzkin's series in chessmaster?
    – BCLC
    Nov 21, 2021 at 9:02

5 Answers 5


Jesus de la Villa's book comes highly-recommended by a coach (a Russian IM) whom I approached about this question. It is refreshingly focused on making your study time as productive (in terms of decisive game results) as possible.

My own assessment of Silman's material is that while it has rich instructive content, I find the style of presentation (cynical, demeaning of the players at times) unappealing. It also lacks focus at times.

I agree that the more comprehensive works such as Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual and Averbakh's Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge should be left until you're at least 2000 ELO. I would also recommend using them sparingly; some of the topics are too arcane to be useful (such as K+R+f-pawn+h-pawn vs K+R, or K+B+N vs K). But by that time, you could just get Fundamental Chess Endings by Müller and Lamprecht, and you'd be set for life.

If you haven't made a purchase yet, for more depth I'd invite you to consider Starting Out: Pawn Endgames, Starting Out: Minor Piece Endgames and Starting Out: Rook Endgames by Everyman Publishing. All are available in a Kindle edition at Amazon for about $10. Used paperback copies are very reasonably priced as well. I believe the Rook book is still in publication, but Everyman doesn't seem to be selling the other two anymore.

If you want to limit yourself to just one book, then I would also encourage you to check out James Howell's Essential Chess Endings. Howell is a chess coach who was frustrated with the unsuitability of the available endgame manuals for teaching aspiring tournament players. His book is readable, uses actual games, and emphasizes strategic themes for each type of endgame. Enjoyable and effective. It's (sadly) only available at a reasonable price as a Kindle book on Amazon (the used copies are a goldmine, apparently).


Since you are a 1400, Silman's book is the way to go. His book will give you the solid endgame foundation that you need. Only once you read his book up to "Endgames for Class A" should you get the other book.


I would go with de la Villa's. I have both, and de la Villa's book is more direct and applicable to what you'd see in play.


You should perhaps go for Comprehensive Chess Endings by Yuri Averbakh. I find it better than these two.


I prefer de la Villa's book. It has a very practical approach, has an affordable extension (100 endings, 200 pages in its Spanish version) and focuses on the most common endings and on understanding them rather than learning lines/positions by heart.

I think it is suitable for a 1400 beginner, although some rook endings may be too difficult for you. I assume you know how to do the very basic checkmates (K+Q vs K or K+R vs K).

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