Karsten Müller's “Endgame Magic“ - Review

by Markus Hochgräfe
4/27/2017 – How to improve your chess? By studying the endgame! And how to study the endgame? Go to Karsten Müller. The German grandmaster is considered to be the world's leading endgame expert and he has published numerous books and DVDs about the endgame. In his "Endgame Magic Show", which runs on the ChessBase server, he regularly shows instructive and interesting endgames. The shows are archived. A treasure.

Chess Endgames 14 - The golden guidelines of endgame play Chess Endgames 14 - The golden guidelines of endgame play

Rules of thumb are the key to everything when you are having to set the correct course in a complex endgame. In this final DVD of his series on the endgame, our endgame specialist introduces you to the most important of these rules of thumb.


Do I have to introduce you to Karsten Müller? (In the picture above he is on the left) Probably not, but here we go just in case: Karsten is a German grandmaster and THE expert on endgames. He has published 14 DVDs on the endgame plus a number of Fritztrainer “Master Class” DVDs on which he shows how World Champions such as Bobby Fischer, José Raúl Capablanca, Emanuel Lasker, Alexander Alekhine or Mihail Tal played the endgame. He also has a regular endgame column in the ChessBase Magazine (CBM).

What I will review here is his “Endgame Magic Show”: Every few weeks Karsten welcomes guests in the ChessBase studios and presents endgame exercises with them. Among the his guests were Alexei Shirov, Sergei Tiviakov, Yannick Pelletier, Christian Bauer, Daniel King, Erwin L'Ami, Christian Bauer, Robert Ris, Victor Bologan, Mihail Marin, and many more. The endgames often come from the practice of the guests, the show is in English and each episode lasts between 60 to 110 minutes.

Screenshot of the Endgame Magic Show with Erwin l'Ami

As a ChessBase Premium Member you can watch the “Endgame Magic Show” live and use the chat to solve the exercises but as a Premium Member you also do have access to the ChessBase videoportal where all episodes of the “Endgame Magic Show” are archived. So far (as of 26th April 2017) 89 episodes have been published.

Train as long as you like: the ChessBase video portal

And no matter what episode you pick, you will always find (and that is true for all of Karsten’s work) an extremely well-prepared analysis of the positions Karsten and his guests present. ‘Endgame’ and ‘magic’ is not a contradiction. The positions are not randomly chosen but you will always learn something from them and sometimes the solution is surprising or ‘magic’. Karsten analyses everything deeply and the number of errors is as low as could be. Karsten has a strong German accent but one understands quite well because he does not speak too fast.

The good thing about studying endgames (in opposite to studying openings) is that the knowledge you gain will help you throughout your chess career. You will have to update your openings regularly but knowing the Philidor position in an endgame rook + pawn is knowledge that does not date. Therefore, endgames should take up at least 10 to 20% of your training time. And here’s some advice from me: increase the amount of training time for endgames!

So, how can you use these videos to improve your endgame skills? If you are like me, you will not have the time to watch 89 videos of more than 1 hour length. What I do is the following: I scroll fast forward to the various positions, press the pause button and then I try to find the best move in the respective position. Each video offers about ten positions to solve.

I have only one wish in regard to the “Endgame Magic Show” but fulfilling this wish would mean a lot of work for Karsten: I would like to have a table of contents for the whole 89 videos (~800-1000 positions). This would allow me to find the relevant positions quickly if I, for example, want to concentrate on rook endgames with an extra pawn. With a table of contents, I could quickly scroll to the videos with that topic. However, there is a categorization of the videos of Karsten’s CBM endgame column, e.g. 'Pawn', 'Rook', 'Active King', etc. These can be found here:

Overview of the Endgame Magic Show


The “Endgame Magic Show” is excellent. I have nothing to criticize, just the wish to add a table of contents somewhere. Watch the show live or use the video archives. Even if you do this only from time-to-time your results are sure improve.

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Markus Hochgräfe was born in 1972 and is a FIDE-master from Germany. He is a former Hamburg youth champion and qualified several times for the German Youth Championships. In 2000, he played for Königsspringer Hamburg in the German Bundesliga. Hhe has a current Elo-rating (as of April 2017) of 2411.
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