Kasparyan’s Problems: Domination in Endgame Studies

Ghenrikh M. Kasparyan composed and collected 2,545 Endgame studies featuring the theme of domination, and this collection is one of my most prized possessions. While dominating a knight is not a terribly difficult task even in an ending, Kasparyan’s problems that feature the domination of a bishop or queen on the open board are elegant and evoke the kind of aesthetic pleasure that is unique to studies. Naturally, Nalimov tables have taken some of the wonder out of such positions, but I still keep the book on my end table and peruse its problems regularly.

In this first study, a knight and king together are able to control every square of the long diagonal, by virtue of a tactical trick. The first time I came across this position I remember being thunder struck, as though I had just witnessed a magic trick.

In the following position, two rooks in seventh heaven are able to dominate and queen and make her helpless with one fantastic move that shuts down her checking square and threatens mate if she vacates the back rank. The powerful simplicity of this ending calls to mind Henri Rinck’s similar compositions.

Here, we see a similar theme of using checks and the threat of mate to pick off the queen on the open board.

The above problems have shown the power of the rooks when working together to render the queen helpless. In the next problem, two rooks connected on the seventh are able to deliver, though it takes 17 precise moves. This technique is worth playing through a few times, as it is probably the only technique on this page likely to occur in an actual game. The works working in tandem are able to push the king along the back rank, threatening mate with every other step of the way, until it can no longer be avoided.

This is a nice one as well, where the kamikaze rook helps the knight to round up the helpless queen.