Endgames of the World Champions

by Davide Nastasio
9/10/2018 – The real reason one should study endgames, is not only related to the possibility those endgames actually appear on the board (they seemingly never do!), but to the gain of confidence we need in order to convert a game where we have a material advantage, or a more active position, into a won game. In fact, lately we have witnessed the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, playing many games which seem drawn, and yet when he reaches the endgame, it turns into an almost magical win. In this review by DAVIDE NASTASIO, you can practice many interesting endgame positions against the engine which stem directly from the games of all these great champions. No excuses! Getting some training done today!

Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen 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.


A training tutorial and review

I'd like to begin this review by telling a story. So, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine drops by my house to brag about his games, and how good he is (he really is good!), and blah blah blah for the next two hours, he showed me how he won all his games thanks to outplaying the opponents in the endgame, especially in rook and pawns endgames. 

Then I have a look at two strong Open tournaments — because I'm quite active as a player — and in fact, most of my games too are decided in the endgame. Few were draws, because I admit I didn't know if I could win, and I didn't want to push too hard, and not get money. Now, far from believing in some New Age stuff, I must admit throughout my life one thing has been periodic. I'm not a writer or a poet, so I cannot mint neologisms, but let's call them "life's lessons", and every time I don't do something right, the lesson continues to appear in my life, becoming a little harder each time (the lesson on women I never passed it, in case someone is curious, but for that I belong to a club with a lot of members!).

I believe chess is a spiritual tool because behaves in the same way. Every time there is a recurrent lesson which appears in order to progress to the next stage, it also appears in my games.

Once a tournament is over I go over the games, and if there is a persistent problem, I try to solve it. Notice above I wrote "decided" when referring to the games. Instead, I could have written "won" if I did my homework in the endgame. Well, for a few days I was having these bad feelings about my endgame skills, and I was thinking of Karsten Mueller! No joke. He is the author of some interesting endgame books I bought but didn't read because I prefer to watch someone actually speaking to me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't born the son of an oligarch or some western billionaire, so I cannot afford to hire a GM to teach me the endgames. Hence the need for an alternative way to learn them!

Some of GM Karsten Mueller's exploits

When we come to this DVD, we discover immediately how important vocal communication is. Mueller mentions Fischer endgames of rook and bishop vs rook and knight. In my mind, it's like I already made a note: "Watch Fischer's games, fast, and single out the one in which appears a rook and bishop vs rook and knight."

This is the greatest gift a teacher like Mueller gives, his voice can direct the attentive student to the difference of styles between different world champions.

The DVD is made by up of material which one can find in the Master Class series, dedicated to World Champions. Apart from that, there is some material which will probably be released in the near future on two world champions —Anand and Kramnik — for whom there are not Master Class DVDs.

Ten volumes to date can be found in the ChessBase Shop

I'd like to add a couple of important information for those players who, like me, are on this thorny road to chess mastery. During the summer, I've read a few chess books and synthesized some of the main elements for improvement which these authors mentioned over and over. I want to try to implement them in my chess studies.David Bronstein

  1. Watch all the games of World Championship matches
  2. 10 hours a week of studying
  3. Play a lot of blitz (this is merely made to test new opening ideas, and see how much we remember of the material we study)
  4. Use a champion of the past as role model (mine is Bronstein! I just hope to avoid following his hairstyle!)

Right: David Bronstein | Photo: Koch, Eric / Anefo CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons

Now, if we watch the World championship games, we could have some hard time, especially without a teacher explaining some common ideas. Hence the use of the Master Class DVDs, made by ChessBase as tool for learning.

I have a tournament in two weeks, and I need to cover my endgame problem first of all! How should I do it?

While life presented the lesson to learn but not the solution (or how to learn it!), ChessBase gave me the tools I need. Now it is up to me to use them for the next two weeks and study each minute of the nine hours in this video series (or watch TV, read Facebook, and then complain my chess is not improving).

I obviously opted for using the new video series, because the feeling of winning a tournament, or again taking first place in my section (U2200) too enticing, and I prefer that to being a passive viewer on a social site.

Mueller, on the other hand, is quite a passionate teacher, I saw how his eyes lit up while showing this endgame played between Fischer and Taimanov:


Try your hand against the engine!

if you can't win don't worry, the endgame is explained quite well in the DVD.

How did I use the DVD? Mueller's advice was to choose the champion we like, and follow him. Instead, I made a time commitment: I decided I would wake up one hour early every morning, and stay up one hour late (or use one evening hour) to watch the videos, and work on the DVD, till the end.

The DVD is nine hours, so this meant I could do it within a week, and then I'd use the other week before the tournament to review my openings. (The truth is: if I don't survive the opening, I surely will not reach the endgame!)

What's inside the DVD? Six modern champions: Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, Carlsen.

Fischer is divided in four chapters for a total of 25 videos! Let's praise Mueller for passing on a huge amount of research, and chess knowledge. To prepare these videos he has used his own book on Fischer, and of course also Bobby Fischer's own masterpiece, as well as many other sources!

Fischer books

These 25 videos are the synthesis of countless hours of research.

Now, you might say my words could be merely the empty flattering of a reviewer, but no, I can prove Mueller did the homework for us, by mentioning, for example, the Centurini rule, which is shown in the first video about Taimanov vs Fischer, 1960.

There is a more detailed explanation on page 108 of his book with Lamprecht: Fundamental Chess Endings. Try to play black and draw.


Today we are lucky, we don't need to learn a foreign language, like Russian to improve our chess. Fischer did it, and that showed his commitment.

Mueller also proves Fischer knew many theoretical endgames by heart. This piece of information is important for improving as chess players. If we want to achieve excellence, we will achieve it thanks knowing what a top of the world role model did. We follow the same steps, results will follow, it is as simple as that! Plus it will give us that edge we need to beat our average tournament competition.

Now play Black, and see if you can draw, like Fischer did, against Taimanov.


Next stop: Karpov and beyond

The next champion is Karpov. His section is comprised of eleven videos and two interactive tests. Mueller describes Karpov as a champion witan h incredible feeling for the position, amazing coordination of the pieces, especially when restricting the opponent's forces.

While working on this review I found some interesting endgames played by Karpov, which I'd like to present as positions to play. In this way, the reader can practice, and then I'll present the entire game, so one can compare one's own technique with Karpov's.


Try to win with White, like Karpov did against Byrne

Another technique one should follow is to study similar endgames. Thanks to ChessBase 14 it's quite easy to discover if Karpov had a similar endgame. In the same tournament in which he played against Byrne, Karpov also played against Henrique Mecking, at that time one of the top players who was thought to be world champion material.

The idea is to play these endgames to become more confident, and learn also from negative results, in order to have positive results when the time for a tournament comes!


Here are the games from which the above endgames were taken, showing how Karpov won.


Kasparov follows with twelve videos and one interactive test. As Mueller mentions, Kasparov received tons of endgame lessons from Karpov, since they played one of the longest matches in chess history.

Kramnik, like Fischer, is divided into four chapters, for a total of thirteen videos and two interactive tests.

Anand, a very special and active champion, has nine videos and one interactive test. One interesting endgame to learn from is the following. In the game, Anand was winning, but he lost because played the wrong move. It was a blitz game. Try to play it against the engine, and see if you score better.


I just discovered Sport Illustrated India dedicated a cover to Anand, definitely a champion who deserves to be studied!

And then we reach the end of the DVD with Carlsen, who's covered in ten videos, and two interactive tests. The reigning World Champion is quite prolific with regard to the endgame. In fact, one could learn almost soley by watching his games — there is an example of everything.

Today's professional chess landscape lets a player like Carlsen compete in many different kind of events, from classical to blitz and rapid World Championship over the board and online. Carlsen gives us the chance to learn how to play even simple rook endgames like the following:


Black just played 60...Kh5 a mistake and now Carlsen can win easily, try it against the engine!

Often we read that all opposite-coloured bishops endgames are drawn. Well, here is one which it is not.


This other position comes from the game Carlsen vs Mamedyarov World Rapid Championship 2012. Black just made a mistake 55...Nc7. Can you win against the engine?


Final thoughts

This DVD is a must for the serious tournament player, not only for gaining knowledge of the endgames but especially for acquiring endgame confidence — the confidence we need to avoid accepting easy draw offers and continue playing thanks to the amazing array of ideas Mueller has provided us.

There is no magical talent, just hard work and putting long hours being exposed to this sort of material. There are no excuses like, I don't have books, or don't understand them. When you have a kind and wise teacher like Mueller leading the way, thanks to the ChessBase tools, one just needs to put the time, and at little effort. It won't work to think you can do nine hours in one day. Instead, one must study consistently over a certain period of time, like 1-2 hours a day, and then results in tournaments and online will come, like magic. Don't miss this chance to let a world renown authority on the endgame like Mueller enlighten you on the part of the game he loves most!   

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.


Davide is a novel chess aficionado who has made chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."


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Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 9/10/2018 02:00
So next up is from Steinitz to Spassky?
goeland goeland 9/10/2018 08:52
I didnt buy this probably excellent DVD because I own already a few masterclass DVD and this "new" product is just the repackaging of videos already issued by Mueller.

I did read Dvoretsky's endgame manual and studied all Mueller's DVDs on endgames. It seems that I save now many half points in endgame but more important, I do enjoy them. So, thanks to K. Mueller for his excellent work.
Aighearach Aighearach 9/10/2018 06:40
Strangest article I've ever read published on a chess news website. At least have an editor proofread it next time; there are sentences that lack meaning as written, followed by ones that talk about spiritualism. The total effect is really just bizarre.

It reminds of the main discovery that Socrates made; none of the successful people know why they are successful, but they also don't know that they are ignorant of the reasons! They all believe themselves to be Wise, but none of the reasons they offer for their success are true. They either were successful by accident, and so believe that whatever they randomly believed before having success was the reason for their success, or they are successful in spite of major impediments to their success, and cite the things preventing even greater success as the reasons for what success they did have!

Also, when a person claims that they're not a writer and so can't be expected to write well, that's a clue not to hire them for a writing assignment. They might even follow on by protesting much too heavily that they're not attempting a flattering review, even when they are also apparently the source of the accusation! Yowsers.

Also, isn't it a little bit weird to presume that only the son of oligarch or western billionaire would be able to hire a professional trainer? It's not even specious.

He even then tries to split hairs between the words "decided" and "won," but if the game was not won, then it wasn't decided at the point he presumes. If the game was won, then the game was "decided" at the critical moment; if the game wasn't won, it was NOT decided at that critical moment. Those are just called blunders. As in, "most of my tournament games I found positions where my opponent blundered in the endgame, and then I returned the blunder on the next move."