Section 3: The different stages in the Xiangqi endgame and the different types of endgames
B) tactic-oriented endgames 戰術型殘局
Tactic-oriented endgames are usually a continuation of strategy-oriented endgames. There are certain situations whereby they are the direct continuation of midgames, by passing the strategy-oriented endgame stage.
The characteristics of such endgames are that they have fewer pieces (in comparison to the strategy-oriented endgames), at least 2-3 major attacking pieces ( the chariot, horse or cannon in any combination), and a few pawns.
Emphasis is on the tactics used in such endgames, like going for the kill, deployment of the troops, defensive measures, order of the moves (頓挫)… And although there are still a considerable amount of chess pieces left, one player would have already initiated an attack on the opponent’s king. All these scenarios are thought to be included in the breath of tactic-oriented endgames.
Please click on the following example to understand what is meant by a tactic-oriented endgame.
PS: In case you were wondering, GM Liu Dianzhong was GM Li Laiqun’s sifu! ;)
As seen from the example, red’s attack was orderly, well paced, made with the correct order of moves with excellent deployment of his forces. Red threatened, maneuvered and launched his attack with precision, leaving black no chance of a reprieve.
In contrast to the first example, where red was more strategy inclined, the second example showed specific attacking combinations using various tactics that were 'unique' to the combination. That is why tactic-oriented endgames were thus called; they emphasize more on the actual tactics used.
Tactic-oriented endgames are an essential part of the endgame itself and the tactics used are quite numerous: deployment, exchange, sacrifices, pins, enticing the opponent’s chess piece to move away from a favorable position, cordoning of a section of the board, launching a coordinated attack , fortifying your defenses, going for a draw ….and lots more. Many a time in this stage of the endgame, a kill is made even before reaching the fixed endgame scenario stage.
To facilitate further study of the endgame, tactic-oriented endgames can be further subdivided into:
i) Tactic-oriented endgames where there are no chariots 無車類戰術殘局
ii) Tactic-oriented endgames involving chariot(s) 有車類戰術殘局
i)Tactic-oriented endgames where there are no chariots 無車類戰術殘局
When there are no chariots in the endgame, the versatility and mobility of the chariot(s) are absent, which would result in a slower pace of the game. The element of surprise would also be diminished. These type of endgame scenarios would put more requirement on the deployment of the troops and more emphasis on controlling/inhibiting the opponent’s chess pieces. A greater degree of attacking versatility of whatever is left on the board is also required. Relatively speaking, the precision required in calculating one’s moves is not as important as the experience that one has with such endgames. Simply put, experience in this sort of endgame scenarios is more important.
From this point of view, these sort of endgame scenarios are harder to master and control than endgames with chariot(s).
Fortunately, over the years, there has been extensive study into such endgames such that certain patterns or rules have been formed to guide one in such scenarios. As long as one is willing to learn humbly, put to practice, summarize and draw conclusions, one’s endgame is bound to improve.
ii) Tactic-oriented endgames involving chariot(s) 有車類戰術殘局
Chariot(s) offer control, attack, defense with their versatility and have important roles in the endgame. When combined with horse(s), cannon(s) or pawn(s), the chariot offers many options. Sometimes, the mere presence of the chariot would greatly increase the complexity of the endgame itself, breathing much life into the endgame.
The speed of the chariot is unparalleled in Xiangqi. It enables one to attack practically any point on the board, increasing one’s offensive capabilities while at the same time fortifying one’s defense. The sphere of influence of the chariot is enormous!
It can also be used to block, to lock-off a section of the board, to pin, to capture the opponent’s chess pieces, to threaten and coerce or simply bully your opponent’s weaker pieces, to shield your own piece, to assist in discovered attacks or simply to assassinate the opponent’s king. That is why, in endgames with chariots, the advantage that one has can often be attributed to the position of one’s chariot and the links that are formed with the other chess pieces. The converse is also true. Speed is key and these sort of endgames usually revolve around the ability to maximize the potential of the chariot itself or to use the chariot to increase the abilities of the other chess pieces. The faster pace of such endgames are a stark contrast to endgames that do not contain chariots. Surprises are more easily sprung and there is a much greater emphasis on the order of the moves made.
Generally speaking, in tactic-oriented endgames involving the chariot(s), precision in the calculation of the moves is much more important than experience. The more detailed the calculation, the better the chances of a win.
That is why, if you have a chariot in an endgame, you try to keep it as open as possible so that it can assist your other chess pieces more. A poorly positioned chariot is a sin…as it decreases your versatility and mobility as a whole and is often unhealthy in the long run. Try to use your chariot to occupy the important positions, ranks or files as they could prove to be the winning key. A good example would be to try to control the central file.
Under most circumstances, try NOT to exchange your chariot in the endgame as leaving the chariot in the game would offer many more alternatives than taking it out of the game. The various possibilities that could arise after a chariot is exchanged must also be taken into consideration.
When you are on the attacking end, sometimes, one would offer an exchange of chariot(s) to eliminate any possibility of a counter-attack so that one is guaranteed victory.
If you are on the defensive end, you must read the game precisely to decide whether a chariot exchange would be for the better. If, after exchanging the chariot, one gets to slow the opponent’s attack so that more chances of a draw appear, then go ahead. But retaining the chariot would allow one more bargaining power to force a draw under most circumstances.
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First created: 31th Aug 2012
Last updated: 2nd Sept 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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