Karsten Müller: endgame lessons from the masters

by Albert Silver
7/23/2013 – Today's endgame lessons by GM Karsten Müller are taken from the recently concluded Renova FIDE Grand Prix in Zug, Switzerland, and involve three former FIDE world champions, Ponomariov, Topalov and Kasimdzhanov, as well as young stars like Nakamura, Caruana and Radjabov. So our ChessBase Magazine endgame expert is plucking grapes from the finest vines. Learn and enjoy.

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Topalov's Technique

Good endgame technique can save a lot of work:

[Event "Renova FIDE GP Zug"] [Site "Zug SUI"] [Date "2013.04.23"] [Round "5"] [White "Topalov, V."] [Black "Nakamura, Hi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C87"] [WhiteElo "2771"] [BlackElo "2767"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "143"] [EventDate "2013.04.18"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 d6 7. c3 Bg4 8. Re1 Nd7 9. h3 Bh5 10. Be3 b5 11. Bc2 Nb6 12. Nbd2 O-O 13. Nf1 Rb8 14. Ng3 Bxf3 15. Qxf3 Bg5 16. Nf5 Bxe3 17. Nxe3 Ne7 18. d4 c5 19. dxe5 dxe5 20. h4 Qd6 21. Red1 Qe6 22. a4 Rfd8 23. axb5 axb5 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. Ra6 Qc6 26. c4 b4 27. Ba4 Qb7 28. Bb5 Nbc8 29. Ng4 Nd6 30. Nxe5 Qxe4 31. Qxe4 Nxe4 32. f3 Ng3 33. Kf2 Ngf5 34. h5 f6 35. Nd7 Rc8 36. Ba4 Nd4 37. h6 f5 38. Ke3 b3 39. hxg7 Kxg7 40. Kd3 Nc2 41. Kc3 f4 42. Ra7 Kg6 43. Bxb3 Ne3 44. Nxc5 N7f5 45. Ra6+ Kh5 46. Ne6 Kh4 47. Nxf4 Kg3 48. Nd3 Kxg2 49. c5 Kxf3 50. Be6 Rd8 51. Bxf5 Nxf5 52. Rf6 Ke4 53. Re6+ Kf3 54. b4 h5 55. Ne5+ Kf4 56. Nf7 Rf8 57. Nd6 Nxd6 58. Rxd6 Rh8 59. b5 h4 60. b6 h3 61. b7 h2 62. Rd1 Ke4 {Topalov's Technique Good endgame technique can save a lot of work:} 63. Kc2 $5 {A subtle point!} (63. c6 {wins as well, but would be bad technique due to} h1=Q 64. Rxh1 Rxh1 65. b8=Q (65. c7 Rc1+ 66. Kb4 Rxc7 67. b8=Q Re7) 65... Rc1+ 66. Kd2 Rxc6 {and White must win the pawnless ending queen against rook.}) 63... Rg8 (63... h1=Q 64. Rxh1 Rxh1 65. b8=Q $18) 64. c6 Rg2+ 65. Kc3 Rg3+ 66. Kc4 Rg1 (66... Rg8 67. c7 Rg1 68. c8=Q Rxd1 69. Qg4+ $18) 67. b8=Q h1=Q (67... Rxd1 68. Qxh2 $18) 68. Rd4+ $1 {Again good technique as White wins the forth phase easily as he has the first check and Black's king is open:} (68. Rxg1 Qxg1 69. Qe8+ {is also winning, but more difficult from a human point of view.}) 68... Kf5 (68... Kf3 69. Qf4+ Kg2 70. Qg4+ Kf2 71. Rd2+ Ke3 72. Re2#) 69. Qf4+ Kg6 70. Rd6+ Kh7 71. Qf5+ Kh8 72. Qf8+ (72. Qf8+ Kh7 73. Rd7+ Kg6 74. Rg7+ Kh6 75. Qh8#) 1-0

Nakamura's Net

Sometimes a mating attack is possible in the endgame:

[Event "Renova FIDE GP Zug"] [Site "Zug SUI"] [Date "2013.04.24"] [Round "6.5"] [White "Kasimdzhanov, Rustam"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C60"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2767"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2013.04.18"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2013.04.24"] 1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 e5 3. Bb5 Nge7 4. Nc3 d6 5. d4 a6 6. Be2 exd4 7. Nxd4 Nxd4 8. Qxd4 Nc6 9. Qe3 g6 10. Qg5 h6 11. Qg3 Be6 12. O-O Ne7 13. Be3 Bg7 14. Rad1 Qd7 15. Bd4 Bxd4 16. Rxd4 O-O-O 17. b4 Qc6 18. Rfd1 g5 19. a4 Ng6 20. Bf1 Ne5 21. Qe3 Qb6 22. a5 Qa7 23. Nd5 Kb8 24. Qc3 Rc8 25. Ne7 Rce8 26. Rxd6 cxd6 27. Rxd6 Ng4 28. Rb6 Ka8 29. Bxa6 Rxe7 30. Qxh8+ Qb8 31. Qxb8+ Kxb8 32. Be2 Nf6 33. a6 Nxe4 34. Bf3 Bd5 35. h4 f5 36. Rxh6 g4 {Nakamura's Net Sometimes a mating attack is possible in the endgame:} 37. Be2 $2 {Kasimdzhanov underestimates the danger.} (37. Bxe4 {should defend from a theoretical point of view. Practically Black keeps winning chances. For example} Bxe4 38. Rh8+ Ka7 39. axb7 Rxb7 40. c3 Rc7 41. h5 Rxc3 42. Kh2 Rc1 43. h6 Rf1 44. f3 gxf3 45. gxf3 Rxf3 46. h7 Rf1 47. Kg3 f4+ 48. Kg4 Rh1 49. Kxf4 $11) 37... Nd2 $1 38. Bd3 (38. Rd6 {is met by} Rxe2 39. Rxd5 Re1+ 40. Kh2 Nf1+ 41. Kg1 f4 42. Rd8+ Ka7 43. axb7 Ng3+ 44. Kh2 Rh1#) 38... f4 {Nakamura closes the mating net.} 39. Kh2 Re1 40. Rh8+ Ka7 41. axb7 Kxb7 (41... Kxb7 {and Kasimdzhanov resigned as he can not escape the mating net without heavy material losses, e.g.} 42. Rf8 (42. Rh7+ Kc8 43. Bf5+ Kd8 44. Bxg4 (44. Rd7+ Ke8 45. Rxd5 Nf1+ 46. Kg1 Ng3+ 47. Kh2 Rh1#) 44... Nf1+ 45. Kh3 Ne3 46. fxe3 $6 Rh1#) 42... Nf3+ 43. gxf3 Bxf3 44. Rxf4 Rh1+ 45. Kg3 Rh3#) 0-1

Caruana cracks Kasimdzhanov's castle

Sometimes rook and bishop can construct a fortress against the queen, but here this is not possible:

[Event "Renova FIDE GP Zug"] [Site "Zug SUI"] [Date "2013.04.23"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Kasimdzhanov, Rustam"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2772"] [BlackElo "2709"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "137"] [EventDate "2013.04.18"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2013.04.23"] 1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. e3 Bf5 7. Nge2 Nd7 8. Ng3 Bg6 9. Be2 Qb6 10. Qd2 Ngf6 11. h4 h5 12. a3 a5 13. Rd1 O-O 14. Bf3 Rfe8 15. Bg5 Bd6 16. Nce2 Ne4 17. Bxe4 dxe4 18. O-O a4 19. Nc3 Bxg3 20. fxg3 Qa5 21. Qe2 Qa6 22. Qf2 f6 23. Bf4 Bf5 24. Rc1 Bg4 25. Rc2 Rad8 26. Na2 Nf8 27. Nb4 Qb5 28. Rc5 Qb6 29. Qc2 Ne6 30. Rc4 Qb5 31. Rc1 Kh8 32. Kh2 Kg8 33. Ra1 Rd7 34. Rc1 Rdd8 35. Qf2 Rd7 36. Na2 Qd5 37. Qf1 b5 38. Nb4 bxc4 39. Nxd5 cxd5 40. Qe1 Ra8 41. Qb4 Nxf4 42. gxf4 Kf7 43. Qb5 Kg6 44. Rf1 Raa7 45. Qb8 Kf5 46. Rf2 Rab7 47. Qa8 Ra7 48. Qh8 Rab7 49. Qh7+ g6 50. Qg8 Ra7 51. Qc8 Ke6 52. Qe8+ Kf5 53. Kg1 Rdc7 54. Kf1 Rd7 55. Ke1 Rdc7 56. Rc2 Rd7 57. Qg8 Rab7 58. Qa8 Ke6 59. Qxa4 Rb3 60. Kf2 Kf7 61. Qa8 Rdb7 62. Kg1 Rd7 63. Kf2 Rdb7 64. a4 Rxb2 65. Rxb2 Rxb2+ 66. Kg3 Be6 {Caruana cracks Kasimdzhanov's castle Sometimes rook and bishop can construct a fortress against the queen, but here this is not possible:} 67. Qc6 $1 Rb3 $6 {Taking the e-pawn is too slow. But Black is lost in any case, e. g.} (67... f5 68. a5 Ra2 69. Qd6 (69. Kh2 $18) 69... Kf6 70. Kh2 {Now White's king comes which decides the issue. This winning plan was indicated by Albert Silver, who starts with 69.Kh2, e.g.} Kf7 (70... Ra1 71. g3 $18) (70... Ra4 71. Kg1 c3 72. Qd8+ Kf7 73. Qc7+ $18) 71. Kg1 Kf6 72. Kf1 Ra1+ 73. Ke2 c3 74. Qd8+ Kf7 75. Qc7+ Kf6 76. Qxc3 $18) (67... Ra2 68. Qb7+ Kg8 69. a5 Rxa5 70. Qb8+ Kf7 71. Qc7+ $18) 68. a5 Rxe3+ 69. Kh2 (69. Kh2 Ra3 70. Qc7+ Ke8 71. Qd6 $18) 1-0

Radjabov's Radient Rook

Every exchange must be considered very carefully:

[Event "Renova FIDE GP Zug"] [Site "Zug SUI"] [Date "2013.04.28"] [Round "9.6"] [White "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Black "Ponomariov, Ruslan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D20"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2733"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "2013.04.18"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Bg4 8. Be3 Qd7 9. Nbc3 O-O-O 10. a4 Nxe5 11. Be4 f5 12. a5 Nbc4 13. Bxb7+ Kxb7 14. Qb3+ Ka8 15. dxe5 Nxe3 16. fxe3 Bxe2 17. Nxe2 Qd5 18. Qxd5+ Rxd5 19. Kf2 g6 20. Rhd1 Rxd1 21. Rxd1 Bg7 22. Rd5 Rb8 23. Nd4 Rxb2+ 24. Kf3 Kb7 25. Ne6 Bh8 26. Rc5 c6 27. Nd8+ Ka6 28. Rxc6+ Kxa5 29. Re6 Ka4 30. Rxe7 a5 31. Re8 Bg7 32. Ne6 Bh6 33. Re7 Rb5 34. Nd4 Bg5 35. Re8 Rc5 36. Ne2 Ka3 37. g3 a4 38. h4 Bh6 39. e6 Re5 40. Nf4 {Radjabov's Radient Rook Every exchange must be considered very carefully:} Bxf4 $2 {Probably in high time trouble Ponomariov miscalculates. He should keep his strong bishop, e.g.} (40... g5 41. hxg5 (41. Nd3 g4+ 42. Kg2 Rxe3 43. Nc5 f4 44. gxf4 Bxf4 $11) 41... Bxg5 $11 {(Baburin in Chess Today 4555)}) (40... Ka2 $11 {is also playable.}) 41. Kxf4 Re4+ (41... Rb5 42. e7 Rb7 43. Kg5 Kb2 44. Kf6 a3 45. Ra8 Rxe7 46. Kxe7 a2 47. Kf6 a1=Q 48. Rxa1 Kxa1 49. Kg7 $18) 42. Kg5 Rxe3 43. Kf6 Rxg3 (43... Kb2 44. e7 a3 45. Rb8+ Kc2 46. e8=Q Rxe8 47. Rxe8 a2 48. Ra8 Kb2 49. Kg7 $18) 44. e7 Re3 45. Rb8 Ka2 ({After} 45... f4 46. e8=Q {is the right way to win} ({and not} 46. Rb6 $2 f3 47. Kf7 f2 48. Rf6 Kb3 49. e8=Q Rxe8 50. Kxe8 a3 $11) 46... Rxe8 47. Rxe8 Kb2 48. Re4 a3 49. Rxf4 a2 50. Rf2+ Kb3 51. Rxa2 Kxa2 52. Kg7 $18) 46. Rb6 $1 {Radjabov's radient rook threatens to move behind White's passed e-pawn and keeps Black's king locked in.} ({The direct} 46. e8=Q $2 Rxe8 47. Rxe8 Kb2 $11 {(Baburin) spoils it.}) 46... Rxe7 (46... a3 {does not help due to} 47. Re6 Rxe6+ 48. Kxe6 Kb2 49. e8=Q a2 50. Qb5+ Kc2 51. Qc4+ Kb2 52. Qb4+ Kc2 53. Qa3 Kb1 54. Qb3+ Ka1 $6 55. Qc2 f4 56. Qc1#) 47. Kxe7 a3 48. Kf6 Ka1 (48... f4 49. Kg7 f3 50. Kxh7 f2 51. Rf6 $18) 49. Kg7 a2 50. Kxh7 f4 51. Rb3 (51. Rb3 f3 52. Rxf3 Kb2 53. Rf2+ Kb3 54. Rf1 Kb2 55. Kxg6 $18) 1-0

Karsten Müller in ChessBase Magazine

Do you like these lessons? There are plenty more by internationally renowned endgame expert Dr Karsten Müller in ChessBase Magazine, where you will also find openings articles and surveys, tactics, and of course annotations by the world's top grandmasters.

Click to go to the ChessBase Magazine page

Apart from his regular columns and video lectures in ChessBase Magazine there is a whole series of training DVDs by Karsten Müller, which are bestsellers in the ChessBase Shop.



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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