Four Exercises From Panchenko’s Mastering Chess Middlegames

This post could be as well part of the “torture puzzles” series. Last summer my girlfriend brought me Panchenko’s “Mastering Chesss Middlegames”. During that time, I felt I needed to work on my middlegame, so I thought it was a great choice of studying material. Well, it’s spring now and I still need to work on my middlegame (I probably need to work on it until the day I die, and perhaps even longer). And as I later found out, the book is very difficult! Anyway, I didn’t really work with the book until now – I looked at a couple of diagrams and that was it. There was one thing written in the book, which I guess discouraged me to pick it up earlier. The book consists of positions explained by Panchenko, then exercises and positions to play through. And in the book, it stands that I need to take 2-3 hours for 4-6 puzzles! So I figured that for me, it could be even longer! On a positive note, I finally managed to pull myself together and begin with at least trying to work with the book. I took the first four exercises from the “Defence” chapter as I have lately started to work on the defensive aspects of my play.

As the post could be regarded as a review, I will show also the cover of the book:

I will now give the reader the four positions from the book. If you want to try them on your own, please do not proceed reading until you think you have the solutions. I will also add that I put the positions up on my board too, as I need to train a bit with the physical board to feel more comfortable over the board. And also, these positions could take for hours, so it is maybe a good thing not to stare the screen for so long too.

(And sorry for the low resolution, I will fix it soon)



The first position is a rook ending and Black is slightly worse. It’s Black to move. I will give my thoughts along with the solution in the following diagram:

The second position features a slightly inferior for White. It is White to move and defend. Solution and my thoughts in the following diagram:

The third position features also an endgame. This time, it’s Black who is worse. Solution and my thoughts in the diagram:

So far, I had gone quite fast over them. I wanted to go over all of the puzzles briefly first, so I could later come back and concentrate on some unfinished lines. However, I never came back after the next one. It took me 1.5 hours to get the solution … However, I have a soft spot for studies, so I definitely enjoyed it, and the solution is indeed very pretty.

It is White to move and draw. Truthfully, I would have been enough to write the post only about this position.

Overall, I think I had a good experience with the Panchenko book. I definitely recommend it as an alternative for fast internet-based puzzles. I will be doing this definitely more.