Last man standing

by Karsten Müller
9/18/2018 – Every chess player knows how powerful pawns can be — after all, if a pawn reaches the opponent's back rank it can turn into a queen. Passed pawns have better chances to queen than other pawns but in a game it is easy to forget how powerful these pawns can be.

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Find the path to a draw

Passed pawns can be powerful — keep an eye on them!


Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen

Let endgame expert Dr Karsten Müller show and explain the finesses of the world champions. Although they had different styles each and every one of them played the endgame exceptionally well, so take the opportunity to enjoy and learn from some of the best endgames in the history of chess.


Karsten Mueller 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.

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

Karsten Mueller

Karsten Mueller regularly presents endgame lessons in the ChessBase Video Portal

ChessBase Magazine #185

The editor’s top ten:

  1. CBM 184“I decided to just make a move”: Wesley So annotates his win against the world champion.
  2. The problem: Erwin l'Ami shows in his video how you should meet the French Winawer Variation with 6...b6.
  3. Erosion of the Berlin Wall: Peter Heine Nielsen explains the brilliant strategic performance of his protégé in Carlsen-Aronian.
  4. Theoretical duel in the Grünfeld Defence: Yannick Pelletier analyses Karjakin's innovation 16.Na3 against Vachier-Lagrave (Video)
  5. “Short and sweet”: together with Simon Williams and the 11-year old Praggnanandhaa defeat a seasoned GM!
  6. “With minimal means”: with Oliver Reeh’s help get the pawns in front of your castled king into play and win! (interactive video)
  7. New Trend in the Caro-Kann: let Igor Stohl show you how Black should set about things in the Exchange Variation!
  8. This is how to convert an advantage: Dimitrij Jakovenko annotates his opening victory in the “Karpov tournament”: Jakovenko-Artemiev
  9. A problem knight on a5? Mihail Marin examines typical examples in the King’s Indian and in the Ruy Lopez Chigorin Variation.
  10. “Unbelievably exciting”: Daniel King presents Caruana's thrilling finish against So in Norway Chess (Video)


Karsten Müller, born 1970, has a world-wide reputation as one of the greatest endgame experts. He has, together with Frank Lamprecht, written a book on the subject: “Fundamental Chess Endgames” in addition to other contributions such as his column on the website ChessCafe as well as in ChessBase Magazine. Müller's ChessBase-DVDs about endgames in Fritztrainer-Format are bestsellers. The PhD in mathematics lives in Hamburg, where he has also been hunting down points for the HSK in the Bundesliga for many years.
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malfa malfa 9/27/2018 08:26
OK, no general theory, but I eventually opened my good ol' Yugoslav Endgame Encyclopaedia and I found a key position which is strictly relevant to our discussion:

White: Ke8, Rd7 - Black: Kf3, Pg5 (Kopaev, 1954)

This is position n. 38 on page 18 of my 1986 (!) edition: it is a mirror version of one which occurs in the previously discussed analysis, apart from the initial placement of the rook and of Black's king, so now it is easy to say that White, who is to move, wins with the unique move 1.Rf7+!

Furthermore, if initially the black king were on g4 instead of f3 I think that the position would be no less instructive: in this case we know that if it is Black's turn he can draw, provided that he plays either 1...Kg3 or 1...Kh3, but not 1...Kf3? which would produce Kopaev's position.
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 9/26/2018 03:07
You are right: I like the checks in the winning line. The attacking king must be able to avoid bodychecks by the defending king. This might be called antibodycheck and the checks are needed to win time for the king. So I guess there is no general theory depending on the king's position as this also depends on the rook's position and this gets too complicated. One has to calculate, if the attacking king can avoid the bodychecks and can cross round in time.
malfa malfa 9/26/2018 09:36
@Karsten Müller

Thank You! I suppose You meant the black rook checks in the *winning* line ;-)
When analyzing I actually wondered whether there is some general theory behind this case, i.e. one which precisely defines the outcome depending on the black king's position, but I had no time to check something like the Endgame Encyclopedia.
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 9/26/2018 09:24
Very valueable comment! I especially like the many checks by Black's rook in the drawing line. This typical technique is well worth knowing.
malfa malfa 9/20/2018 10:05
This position and the relevant analysis are very interesting, but in my opinion at least one important point did not receive enough attention: after 59.Kc3! Kc1 60.Kb4? Rh4! GM Mueller rightly claims that Black is winning, but after 61.Kxb5!? Rxd4 62.b4 we reach almost exactly the same position given in the 2nd diagram after 59...Rc5+ 60.Kb4 Rc4+ 61.Kxb5 Rxd4 where White is to move and draw! The only difference is the position of the Black king, which is on c1 instead of d1. How can this be decisive? It is very difficult to appreciate without resorting to the tablebases, the very subtle difference being hidden in the following variation: with the Black king on c1, like in the first variation I consider, after 62...Rd2! 63.Ka6 Ra2+! 64.Kb6 Kb2 65.b5 Black can play 65...Ka3! when after 66.Kc7 Rc2+! 67.Kd7 Rb2! Black gains a decisive tempo by attacking the pawn from behind. All the exclamation marks are necessary, since with the black king initially on c1 these are all unique moves in order to win. Instead if Black, starting from the second diagram, plays the same way after 62.b4 Rd2 (instead of GM Mueller's 62...Kc2), his king, leaving from d1, will get only to b3, and therefore he will hinder the rook from attacking along the 'b' column with tempo.