Along with Levenfish and Smyslov's Rook Endings, last seen in The Bridge, the Diversion, and the Best Defense, one of my favorite endgame references is the multi-voume set by Averbakh, last seen in More R+P vs. B+P Magic. I've encountered several different versions of Averbakh's work, and before referring to it in any more posts, I decided it would be a good idea to catalog the various publications. Here are the sets I know of:-
- The original work was published in Russian in the 1950s; I'll call this (A).
- Batsford published a translation in the 1970s; (B).
- A second Russian edition was published at the beginning of the 1980s; (C).
- Pergamon published another translation in the mid-1980s; (D).
Wikipedia, in Chess endgame literature, mentions (A), (B), and (D).
Yuri Averbakh published a monumental set of books in Russian in 1956. The works were first published in English as several individual books [list of eight books] and later collected into the five-volume Comprehensive Chess Endings. It was also published in other languages (Golombek 1977). Bobby Fischer had these books sent to him during his World Championship match (Averbakh & Chekover 1977).
Comprehensive Chess Endings, by Yuri Averbakh, et al., 1983. In five volumes. A pretty detailed, advanced, and comprehensive look at various endings. intended for players with a rating of roughly 1880 or higher. Published by Pergamon Press. The work originally appeared as a series of smaller books (e.g. Bishop Endings, Knight Endings, etc.). Out of print in book form, but available on computer CD-ROM. [list of five books]
Three separate volumes made up the first Russian edition (A). I have the second edition (C) and there are five volumes -- B/N vs. same piece, R/B/N vs. different piece, Q, P, and R -- published in that order, one per year starting in 1980. The Pergamon edition (D) followed the same order and schedule, starting in 1983.
As for the Batsford edition (B), Wikipedia listed eight volumes, which I've determined were published in the following order -- P, Q&P, B vs. N, B, N, R vs. B/N, Q vs. R/B/N -- starting in 1974. Wikipedia also mentioned a volume on Rooks alone, but it must be less common than the other seven volumes, because I was unable to locate any info on it while preparing this post. Even the image on the left, from a recent eBay auction, shows only seven Averbakh volumes plus the Levenfish and Smyslov book on Rook endings.
As for the digital version of Comprehensive Chess Endings, the FOREWORD by Yuri L. Averbakh mentions,
Acknowledgements: First of all I would like to remark that the first three-volume edition of Shakhmatnye Okonchaniya, published in 1956-1962, was prepared with the assistance of the Soviet masters N.Kopayev, V.Chekhover, V.Khenkin and the famous endgame theorist I.Maizelis. The first English edition, published in 1983-1987 by Pergamon Press, was based on the second Russian edition, and was translated by Kenneth P. Neat. The latter was published in 1982-1986 by "Fizkultura i sport".
Will there be future hardcopy editions of Averbakh's monumental work? I doubt it, but I wouldn't be surprised to see another digital edition.
Later: In that last quote, it's curious that Averbakh mentions, 'the first English edition, published in 1983-1987 by Pergamon Press'. I would have guessed that the Batsford edition was the first in English.