Arkell's Endings

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ben.graff
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Arkell's Endings

Post by ben.graff » Wed Aug 05, 2020 8:09 am

I was still a teenager when I first saw Keith Arkell in action, I think at a Hereford Congress about thirty years ago. Since that day, I have often found myself in the throng of spectators peering over the back of Keith’s head, as he gives another masterclass. I am always amazed as to how Keith manages to make the almost impossible seem so logical, when it comes to winning in the endgame.

I do not know Keith personally, but I am a huge fan of his first book Arkell’s Odyssey, in which he tells the story of his life and chess. Like most who love the game but are nowhere near good enough to make a living out of it, I have huge respect for Keith’s talent and his capacity to make chess his profession as well as his passion. I always hoped Keith would write another book and Arkell’s Endings is truly excellent. For those who have not seen Keith “live,” this is the next best thing.

With a foreword from Jon Speelman and a nice afterword from Simon Williams the book consists of thirty-three of Keith’s games, in which Keith shares his thoughts on the resulting ending. What makes this so compelling is that in all but one of the games, rather than rely on reams of computer analysis, Keith focuses on giving the reader a sense of what he thought and how he approached the challenges from a practical perspective. This makes the book extremely relatable and a thoroughly gripping read. There are also some nice photographs, which I suspect will bring back fond memories for many.

Keith introduces concepts such as the “Arkell hierarchy of pawns,” and the “Carlsbad Structure,” which will be of great practical help to many players. They have certainly given me a new perspective on my f and e pawn, which I wish I had had many years ago! I have not read many endgame books in which concepts and strategies are explained as clearly and simply as they are here. I guess it is true what they say. Any fool can describe a complicated idea in a complicated way. It takes a maestro such as Keith to bring clarity.

The games themselves are fascinating and Keith has a knack for making the positions accessible to the reader whatever their chess strength. I played through many of them in the evenings while on holiday and found them compelling enough to step back from my internet blitz habit (which has worryingly worsened during lock-down!) Whether you want to learn or just enjoy some fascinating chess, this is a must have for all chess players.

Everyone will have their own favourite games. My three picks are as follows: Arkell – Groves. As Keith describes it, this “…probably holds the record for the most unwinnable-looking ending from which I’ve managed to extract the whole point.” Given Keith’s history, this really must be worth a look! I particularly enjoyed Keith’s win against Ariel Zak as triumphing with two lone bishops v knight and two takes some doing. Even now this makes me feel dizzy to think about! I also thought it was a nice touch by Keith to include his loss against Vachier-Largrave. There must be something we can all learn from an ending where Keith did not come out on top.

I always think the top players on the circuit such as Arkell, Hebden et al are part of a story many of us share in. We play in the same tournaments and watch their games. Arkell’s Endings allows you to go one better by metaphorically sitting down with Keith and sharing some wonderful games with their creator. Whether you want to improve your endgame play or just enjoy some wonderful chess in the company of a fantastic player who shares his thinking with refreshing honesty and candour, this is a terrific book.
Last edited by ben.graff on Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ben Graff
Author of 'The Greenbecker Gambit' and 'Find Another Place'

Tim Spanton
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Tim Spanton » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:13 pm

Sounds good - I'll have to look out for this


Mick Norris
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:33 pm

Excellent news about Keith's long awaited book; look forward to reading it on my Kindle eventually
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Adam Raoof
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:47 pm

I think this is going to be a great way to spend the next few months!

You can order the book here - https://www.gingergm.com/ref/106.html and full disclosure, if you do, I will earn a commission.

I thoroughly recommend anything by Simon Williams, and Danny Gormally is becoming a really interesting author.

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Nick Grey
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Nick Grey » Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:04 pm

I will buy from my usuaI supplier. Must be worth 100 ECF.

Nick Ivell
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Nick Ivell » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:49 am

This sounds like a cracker. I will definitely get a copy.

One of the things I enjoyed about Keith's Odyssey was the lack of computer analysis. A refreshing change these days.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:08 pm

Ok, suppose somebody has to ask this - how many R+B v R endings are in it? ;)
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Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:49 pm

"Ok, suppose somebody has to ask this - how many R+B v R endings are in it? ;)"

I played Keith in a British Blitz qualifier and commented that if it reached that ending, I would offer a draw to entertain the crowd. He immediately replied, "If you have the bishop , I'll accept!" Needless to say, he was occupying three quarters of the board by move 30 and didn't need an ending.

I will definitely get the book.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by LawrenceCooper » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:13 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:08 pm
Ok, suppose somebody has to ask this - how many R+B v R endings are in it? ;)
And were any against me? :oops:

NickFaulks
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:01 pm

LawrenceCooper wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:13 pm
And were any against me? :oops:
Did you put up sufficient resistance for the game to be of instructive value?
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ben.graff
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by ben.graff » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:14 pm

LawrenceCooper wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:13 pm
Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:08 pm
Ok, suppose somebody has to ask this - how many R+B v R endings are in it? ;)
And were any against me? :oops:
Keith does highlight the number of times he has reached rook and bishop versus rook. Always with success! Sharing the exact number feels like a bit of a spoiler, but I was amazed by it. Your three such games against Keith get an honourable mention Lawrence! The book games on this are against Richard Palliser and Robert Bryne. (Robert Bryne's brother will always be remembered for losing "The Game of the Century," to Fischer.)
Ben Graff
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LawrenceCooper
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by LawrenceCooper » Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:18 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:01 pm
LawrenceCooper wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:13 pm
And were any against me? :oops:
Did you put up sufficient resistance for the game to be of instructive value?
I doubt it, especially as one as a rapid, one was a weekender and I can't immediately recall the other one. One thing I do recall is that when trying to defend it felt easier when my king was in front of me on the e and d files but when my king ended up somewhere around g5 I wanted to move my chair (90 degress?) so my king was still in front of me! I confess to not knowing the recommended ways to defend the ending but I generally felt I was defending okay. As time ticks down though the pressure begins to tell and the defensive task becomes increasingly difficult.

Tim Harding
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Tim Harding » Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:19 am

Just ordered it. I hope you haven't had any lasting ill effects from the Covid, Keith.
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Matt Bridgeman
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Re: Arkell's Endings

Post by Matt Bridgeman » Sat Aug 08, 2020 5:57 pm

It looks a good one. I've picked a copy up for my daughter to read in the summer holidays.

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