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I have a very strong opening and middle game but somehow when it comes to checkmate I always make blunders and end up being the one who loses. Someone told me that my weakness is I am too focused on my pawns only. I guess that's right because I always try to defend my pawns no matter how small the exchange was. Is there a way to change my playing type from defense to offense/aggressive?

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    Could you please clarify what you mean by "when come to checkmate"
    – Hauptideal
    Oct 6, 2022 at 10:11
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    @Hauptideal when the game is done and I check it there are some moves that require only 3 moves again to check mate but it can't be seen by me so I keep making blunders until I lose Oct 6, 2022 at 10:15
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    Could you please add some example games of yours? Situations where those problems occured? Just because there was a Mate in 3, doesn't necessarily mean you were in an endgame. In general, to better recognize mating patterns, I would recommend chess puzzles.
    – d4zed
    Oct 6, 2022 at 10:26
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    It seems that you are confusing what is called a "mating attack" and an "endgame" in chess. Unlike in shogi, they are two very different phases !
    – Evargalo
    Oct 6, 2022 at 13:08
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    Can you show us some examples? Are you drawing these conclusions from engine analysis alone?
    – David
    Oct 6, 2022 at 15:16

2 Answers 2

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I don't think you necessarily need to play more "aggressively". You need to get your priorities right (including piece activiy).
To make fewer blunders, it is essential to study the endgame, in particular theoretical endgames, and how to deliver checkmate with minimal material. Furthermore, you need a general strategic understanding of what to do in the endgame. If you do not have the theoretical knowledge and a roadmap / plan, then it's very hard to play an endgame accurately, as usually the time on the clock is low. Not knowing what to play for leads to wasted time in the endgame pondering about what to do when the plan should be clear, leaving you more susceptible to time-trouble blunders.

What could a roadmap look like to help you prioritize moves, so that you do not passively defend pawns instead of delivering a checkmate or achieving other goals?

Look at this example made by ChessMood and read GM Grigoryan's explanation.

Your first and foremost goal is to checkmate the opponent's king. Therefore, you should always be aware of tactics, even in the endgame. The endgame is still chess, and the chess principles still apply. So look for tactics and seek to improve your piece activity.

Typically, the goal in an endgame is to promote a pawn to a queen and win with the extra material. How do you promote pawns?

You need to get a passed pawn. You can do that by winning pawns from the opponent (e.g. by creating and exploiting weaknesses), by pushing a pawn majority, by breakthroughs and other means. When you study endgames, you'll often find that it's not only the number of pawns, but also their quality (e.g. strong connected or protected passed pawns), as well as piece activity that counts in an endgame.

You'll have to use your pieces to guard and escort your passed pawn to promotion. Your opponent will try to block its way to promotion (or seek counterplay).

When you are on the defending side, try to exchange as many pawns as possible. This makes it much easier to reach a theoretical draw, e.g. king and pawn vs king where you have the opposition, the Philidor position, Vancura position, rook pawn with wrong bishop and so on.

A very important tip is to play actively. Instead of passively defending pawns, it is often better to activate all your pieces (including the king) and seek active counterplay or counterattacking an enemy weakness. Especially rook endgames can be drawn one or even two pawns down when your king and rook are active. Contrary to that, if your rook and king are inactive and you have a lot of weaknesses to defend, it can be much harder to hold a draw even if the material is balanced. However, in pawn endgames, the side with the extra material will usually win, if the other side does not have any special resources such as a far advanced outside/connected/protected passed pawn. This shows you that it is important to study endgames and endgame strategy. It is more important to study endgames than to study opening theory beyond the opening principles as a beginner. Work on your endgames! I can recommend Silman's Endgame course.

Edit: Note, that you do not always need to execute a mate in three, when you choose another winning move in time trouble that you know for sure wins (e.g. because you know the procedure to promote a pawn). You can still make practical choices. Maybe your problem is not solely missing the mate, but blundering away a position in time trouble that is winning anyhow, even without the immediate mate, because you do not know what to do and how to win such a position.

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    You wrote this response as if OP is 1800+. I think it's pretty clear that they are nowhere near the level where this advice would be helpful. Oct 7, 2022 at 1:01
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    thank you, I think I confused between aggresively and actively. now I will play actively Oct 7, 2022 at 2:18
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If you are failing to win won endgame positions then the first thing you need to do is to learn the simple checkmates - K+Q vs K, K+R+R vs K, K+R vs K, K+B+B vs K. If you don't know how to checkmate then you can't win unless your opponent does you a favour and resigns.

The second thing you need to learn is how to play king and pawn endgames. The first of these is K+P vs K. Whether this is a draw or a win depends on the positions of the three pieces plus whose turn it is. You just need to learn these otherwise you won't what is a winning position and which isn't and you won't know which positions to aim for.

The third thing you need to learn is the importance of playing with the king. When the "safe" part of the endgame starts most of the time the critical thing to do is centralise the king. The king is a powerful piece in the endgame and if your opponent succeeds in centralising their king and you fail then you are probably going to lose.

The fourth thing you need to learn is the importance, when you are a pawn up in a what looks like a drawish position, of a timely pawn sacrifice. Sacrificing an extra pawn can often divert the enemy king away from the action and let your king into the position to attack your opponent's other pawns. If you are fixated on defending all your material this can be a particularly hard habit to break.

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