So many chess players study the openings; few unfortunately study the endgames. There's a rich literature on endgames, but I confess that I didn't spend much time really studying them until I played serious correspondence chess. Then, I might arrive at a certain rook and pawn endgame, and I was motivated to learn all that I could.
Of course, strong player know that the real secret isn't simply the understanding of endgames but rather the TRANSITION from the middlegame to the endgame. Fred Reinfeld's book Reinfeld on the Endgame in Chess was my first exposure to such transitions. Here are two examples used in the book with my annotations.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Nc3 0-0 7.Qc2 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.h4 c5 11.0-0-0 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Re8 13.Kb1 a6 14.g4 b5 15.Bxf6 Nxf6 16.g5 Ne4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Bxe4 Bxe4 19.Qxe4 Bxg5 20.Ne6 Qe7 21.hxg5 h6 22.gxh6 Qxe6 23.Qd4 Qe4+ 24.Qxe4 Rxe4 25.hxg7 Kxg7 26.Rdg1+ Kf6 27.Rh6+ Ke7 28.Rc1 Ra7 29.Rcc6 a5 30.Ra6 Rxa6 31.Rxa6 a4 32.Rb6 Re5 33.Kc2 Rc5+ 34.Kd3 Kd7 35.a3 Rf5 36.f4 Kc7 37.Rh6 Rd5+ 38.Kc3 f5 Diagram
1.e3 d5 2.f4 c5 3.b3 Nc6 4.Bb2 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.0-0 Bd6 8.Nc3 a6 9.Bxc6 Bxc6 10.Ne5 h5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Na4 h4 13.Be5 h3 14.g3 Rh6 15.Qf3 Qc7 16.Nxc5 Bxe5 17.fxe5 Qxe5 18.Qf4 Qxf4 19.Rxf4 e5 20.Ra4 Nd7 21.Rxa6 Rxa6 22.Nxa6 e4 23.d4 exd3 24.cxd3 Ne5 25.d4 Ng4 26.Nc5 Rf6 27.Nd3 Nxe3 28.Re1 Re6 29.Nf4 Re7 30.Nxh3 Nc2 31.Rxe7+ Kxe7 32.Kf2 Nxd4 33.Ke3 c5 34.Ng1 Kd6 35.Nf3 Nc6 36.a3 f5 37.Kd3 d4 38.h4 g6 39.Ke2 Kd5 40.Kd3 Na5 41.Nd2 Diagram