This is the 2nd page of Chapter 1 of the book on endgames by GM Liu Dianzhong.
In case you missed the previous page, click here for it.
Although it is mostly narrative, I have tried to translate it and make it as palatable as possible. For anyone who really wants to learn the Xiangqi endgame, please go through it.
Section 2: The characteristics of the Xiangqi endgame
The endgame is the last stage in a game of Xiangqi, and it has very different characteristics as compared to the opening and the mid-game. One must know these differences to have the appropriate mindset when dealing with the endgame. These fundamental differences would affect the judgment of the endgame situation and therefore lead to better deployment of the remaining chess pieces.
Better combinational play can also be achieved to meet the pre-set targets set for specific endgame scenarios.
In a nutshell,
The types and number of remaining chess pieces are greatly decreased, and the space for movement is greatly increased.
In the midgame, both players go at it and either there is much carnage resulting in the loss of chess pieces or both sides are entangled. It follows that after the interaction of these chess pieces in the midgame, in the endgame, the space available for movement greatly increases. And as there are less remaining chess pieces, the chances for material exchange are greatly decreased. They are also
less easily captured. These few factors would lead to the fact that in the endgame, as compared to the midgame or opening, there are more ways to deploy your forces (greater spatial availability), more tactics to do so. The speed or tempo of the game would also slow down considerably and actual play may be considerably less direct.
The remaining chess pieces increase greatly in value , while the advantage by default decreases. Because of the fact that the available space to maneuver the chess pieces has greatly increased, and that there are lesser pieces to maneuver, the efficiency or value of each individual chess piece is increased. Sometimes, a humble pawn, or reclusive advisor or lumbering elephant can be the difference between a win and a loss.
And as the number of chess pieces are greatly decreased, the choices for combinational play are decreased. It follows that whatever advantage that has been accumulated in the midgame may be diminished or less pronounced.
Comparatively, it would be easier and more common to make sacrifices in the midgame (even chariot sacrifices) in order to gain the upper hand or control of the game. In the endgame, the positions of the chess pieces are much more important and even the king often exerts a marked influence on the game.
Different chess pieces have slightly different roles and functions their value changes relatively.
Different combinations have different attacking and defensive abilities in Xiangqi. When in the endgame stage, there may be further evolution or change to the attacking/defensive ability of each individual chess piece or combination. The changes to each of the chess pieces are discussed in detail.
a) As there is more room to maneuver and fewer hindrances, the horse's power is multiplied manifold.
b) The opposite is true to for the cannon. The lesser number of chess pieces to act as the cannon's mount would greatly decrease its ability to control files or ranks. Often, advisors and elephants are needed to act as cannon mounts. It is not entirely bad though as more space for movement allows the cannon to be deployed to strategic positions faster.
c) And as for the most powerful chesspiece in Xiangqi, the chariot, more space to move implies that the chariot becomes more versatile and even faster in his movement than in the opening or midgame. But, in the endgame, as there are lesser chess pieces to attack or threaten, so, taking all things into consideration, the chariot would become less dominating as compared to the midgame or opening.
d) Lesser pieces in the endgame would also mean increased room for the king to move about, thereby allowing it to pursue a more active role as compared to its passivity in the opening and midgame. As there are lesser pieces to attack it, the king is more able to protect itself and even aid in attacks like the iron bolt checkmate.
e) The advisors and elephants have more room to move and increased mobility in the endgame. Their defensive prowess are much more pronounced in the endgame and so is their ability to aid in attacks.
f) The humble pawn undergoes metamorphosis in the endgame. While its role in the opening and midgame are limited, in the endgame, the effect they have on the game become more pronounced. More pawns or better positioned pawn(s) or both can decide the game. The effect that the pawns have in the endgame may be so decisive that sometimes, an entire endgame would revolve around the capturing of a single pawn.
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First created: 30th Aug 2012
Last updated: 30th Aug 2012
GM Liu Dianzhong for making learning endgames a much easier job!
Mr Felix Tan for advice in various aspects of the game.
1. <<象棋新編教程--象棋殘局基礎>> by GM Liu Dianzhong 劉殿中, Qi Jinan 齐津安.
2. <<象棋辭典>> by the late legendary Master Tu Jingming 屠景明
3. <<跟我學象棋 初級教程>> by Wang Guodong 王國棟, Fang Shiqing 方仕慶, Li Yangui 李燕貴
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