Bit by bit to endgame wisdom

8/25/2010 – GM Karsten Müller’s endgame course is already a modern classic. In Volume five he deals with the overarching principles: activity, initiative, mate and the correct exchange. In his review, Sean Marsh points out that sometimes it takes Mueller "only a few short minutes to show something really valuable and easy to remember". Buy Chess Endgames 5 now or read more.

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Karsten Mueller: Chess Endgames 5

Review by Sean Marsh (Marsh Towers)

ChessBase Endgame specialist Karsten Mueller returns with the fifth volume in his impressive series. The video lectures are split into four sections, namely:

  • Activity
  • Initiative
  • Mate
  • Exchange

GM Mueller starts with a discussion based on the initial question: 'What is an endgame?' It turns out not to be such a simple one to answer, but once the presenter has talked through some important guidelines and principles that are specific to the final phase of the game - such as the generally safer territory for the King - it's time to move on to the main material.

The video lectures present the viewer with perfect bite-sized pieces of endgame wisdom. Sometimes just a few short minutes are all it takes a skilled presenter to show something really valuable and easy to remember.

Carlsen - Aronian

'The guideline that the King shall blockade enemy passed pawns is correct here. Kf2 draws. White's active Rook will save the day. Okay, the h-pawn is lost, but the Rook was not created to defend weak pawns anyway - it shall be free to give checks!'

84 Kf2! Rf6 85 Rh1 Kg4 86 Rg1+ Kxh4 87 Rh1+ Kg4 88 Rg1+ Kf4 89 Rg3 Ke4 90 Rg4+ Ke5 91 Rg5+ Ke6 92 Rg3 =

This leads to a much more difficult example on the same theme. I like the way that GM Mueller builds things up little steps.

Schlechter - Lasker

How on Earth could Lasker save this against such a strong player? It's all to do with the activity of the Rook.

54 ...Re4!! 55 Rc5 Kf6 56 Rxa5 Rc4 57 Ra6+ Ke5 58 Ra5+ Kf6 59 Ra6+ Ke5 60 Ra5+ Kf6 61 Ra2

 ...and Black can hold the draw. Compare the two Rooks now!

There's some fun lessons in the section on Mate. There is a strong temptation to forget about mating attacks with such reduced material, but taking the eye off the ball can lead to a sudden end, as the following example shows.

Djukic - Vavrak

51 c4 bxc4+ 52 Kxc4 Nd5! 53 Rf7 Ra3 0-1

The material is excellently chosen and the presentation is unhurried and very professional. I learned a lot from this DVD and in my opinion it is definitely the pick of this month's releases.

Karsten Mueller: Endgame 1   Sample video
Karsten Mueller: Endgame 2   Sample video
Karsten Mueller: Endgame 3   Sample video
Karsten Mueller: Endgame 4   Sample video


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