After considerable endgame study (i.e. Jeremy Silman's complete endgame course), I am finding that there is a wealth of information about how to win endgames. However, I am noticing that there isn't as much information about knowing/judging when it is time to "trade down" to an endgame.

I'm not at all confused by the most basic principles such as "trade down to an endgame when you are a knight-ahead or better". However, I would love to see an outline (or a link to some kind of equivalent knowledge) addressing more detailed situations such as:

--a.) trading down to an endgame when white has two passed pawns on opposite sides of the board vs. black's poorly guarded pawn on the 7th rank.

--b.) win/lose/draw analysis of bishop only endgames when bishop are of same color, or Knight vs. bishop endgame success? etc, etc.

Does anyone know of a website, book, or resource addressing this niche subject of judging whether or not to trade down to an endgame?




The reason there isn't much information on when to trade down when there isn't a large material advantage is because it is obvious.

If you have a small advantage but you calculate that trading down will leave you with an endgame which you know how to win then trade down. Note that even if you are bishop and knight up (say something like KQBN v KQ) and can trade down to a KBN v K endgame and you know that theoretically it is winning for you but you don't know how to win then there is no point in trading down because it is very easy for the defender to last 50 moves and claim the draw against someone who lacks the knowledge. Try and win some other way while there is more material on the board.

Similarly if you are a pawn or two down but have the chance to trade down to an opposite coloured bishop endgame where you know because of your endgame knowledge that your opponent's extra pawn(s) are not going to be enough for him because you know how to draw that position then trade down.

The difficult part is having the endgame knowledge in the first place.

If you reach a position where you are trying to decide whether to trade down or not but don't know, it is not because nobody has given you the magic answer. It is because you lack the endgame knowledge to judge the final position after the trade down.

  • 2
    Either it is obvious or it is difficult. If it relies on a vast body of knowledge of different non-generalizable endgames … its difficult. And the question whether you can win a particular endgame usually doesn't have a clearcut answer. Mostly the question isn't even about winning, it's about how much pressure you can put on your opponent in this particular endgame. It's about practical chances, risk minimising and stylistic preferences. – BlindKungFuMaster Jul 28 '15 at 9:44
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    @BlindKungFuMaster The answer is both obvious and difficult. The OP's question boils down to "How can I know when to exchange down to an endgame?" Simple and obvious answer "When you know or are reasonably confident that you can win (or draw if you are currently losing or only want a draw)". The difficulty lies in acquiring the knowledge to implement the answer. So, answer is obvious, implementation is difficult, like a lot of things in life ;-). – Brian Towers Jul 28 '15 at 14:31
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    I don't know … to me this sounds a lot like "it's good if it's good". You "know it" when you "have the knowledge". It is obvious because it's a tautology. But of course I agree that endgame knowledge and experience is key. – BlindKungFuMaster Jul 28 '15 at 14:46
  • Also you may in some cases want to trade down to a complex endgame you may not understand and your opponent does for the purposes of LEARNING. – magd Jul 29 '15 at 9:31
  • @BlindKungFuMaster This is perfectly clear advice, the essence of which is to avoid endgames which you know very little about. It's obvious in the sense that if you know something, you of course know you know it, and so following this advice is trivial. Of course, knowing whether an endgame is winning or losing is hard. When you start out, all endgames are unknown! I think this is where you are coming from. But note that this is a different question than what OP is after, which is general advice on when to trade into endgames, not how to acquire more endgame knowledge. – Nathan Mar 10 at 6:02

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