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One strong player once told me that you can improve quickly if you focus more on endgame studies than on tactics training. His reasoning was that endgame studies use a few pieces to cover most of the chess rudiments including strategy, tactics, imagination, concrete calculation, awareness, visualization, etc. While tactics on the other hand can lead to speculation over calculation.

My question is, can a player improve quickly by focusing more on solving endgame studies and giving tactics less time?

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    Why not do both? – Scounged Aug 5 at 16:31
  • Which is more important, water or food? – George Jempty Aug 6 at 6:24
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Endgame studies are a particular form of tactical problem. I think variety is always good here, but, most importantly, since consistency is critical for improvement at chess, I would suggest you to focus on the type of exercise you enjoy most! (You won't train for too long if it's a sacrifice rather than a pleasure.)

I disagree with the "tactics can lead to speculation" part. Quite the opposite, training tactics is what we do to find concrete realizations of our intuitions/speculations. Of course, this means trying to calculate the entire continuation from the starting position, with all the possible consequences of the moves you are thinking about being considered. But this also applies to solving endgame studies, though!

Finally, I'd say that endgame studies seldom cover relevant strategy, and when they do, it's in a very artificial form. Anyway, if we wanted to improve our chess strategy, why not study chess strategy itself?

In conclusion, I think endgame studies can help you improve your tactical skills, but I'd use them as an additional resource rather than the main focus of your training. Tactical puzzles often have the advantage of being closer to positions you can reach in a real game (you are forced to "remove the noise" and find what's the relevant factor that can lead you to a win.) This does not mean that you should disregard the Master's advice, but rather stick to what's useful from it, so: beware of speculation during your tactical training!

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    I've read that learning endgame positions really well can help one steer the game towards an endgame position that they know how to win thus reducing complexity in the midgame. Personally I enjoy really complex tactical midgames so I haven't taken the advice but I can see how it still applies though. – reggaeguitar Aug 5 at 16:50
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    But endgame theory and endgame studies are two very different things! – David Aug 5 at 23:28
  • What's the difference? – reggaeguitar Aug 9 at 17:55
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Your question is fairly opinion-based, but I will try to answer in reference to common chess thought:

"Learn chess backwards"

I don't know who first said it, but I think it is well regarded that one should learn chess starting with the endgame and working back toward the opening.

Simple looking endgames can be incredibly complex and full of nuance; studying them will improve your tactical vision. Once you know a particular endgame situation, you have gained permanent wisdom.

So, endgame study is extremely important! But:

"Tactics are everything"

If you can calculate like a maniac, you can figure out how to proceed in any phase of the game.

Now, if you get rusty and don't play as sharp, what good was all that tactics training?

Tactics training is like working out your body. The more you do it, the better your baseline fitness. Endgame study is still a workout, just more long-distance running than cross-fit, and it can be easier for adding permanent pattern recognition.

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    I think you are mistaking endgame theory/principles for endgame studies. Not the same thing – David Aug 5 at 23:29
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Both are important but I believe tactics are more fundamental. That is, tactics can help to understand certain endgames but endgames aren't really going to help you understand tactics. Sure, there are isolated endgame positions where you might learn a tactical trick but how much of that is applicable to the rest of your game?

  • "That is, tactics can help to understand certain endgames but endgames aren't really going to help you understand tactics." Doesn't endgame studies encompass most of the chess rudiments but using fewer pieces; tactics, strategy, calculation of forced/forcing moves, motifs, manouvres, related squares, and clearly showcases the power of individual pieces etc? – Phemelo Khetho Oct 30 at 7:52

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