Karsten Müller: Endgames from Norway Chess

by Karsten Müller
6/15/2014 – Finished enjoying the Norway Chess 2014 tournament? Now's the time to learn from the games. You can improve your endgame skills and your ratings by going through some of the endings with a world-class expert – like our resident GM Karsten Müller. Today he takes a look at three key games of Karjakin, Carlsen, Aronian and Agdestein. Learn and enjoy.

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Endgames from Norway Chess 2014

Race of the Passed Pawns

A rook is usually much stronger than a bishop in a pure endgame, but with dangerous passed pawns matters can be complicated:

[Event "Norway Chess 2014"] [Site "Stavanger"] [Date "2014.06.05"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Agdestein, Simen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2771"] [BlackElo "2628"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [PlyCount "125"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Qb6 9. Qd2 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. Bb5 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 a6 13. Bxd7+ Bxd7 14. Rb3 Qe7 15. Rxb7 Qh4+ 16. Qf2 Be7 17. g3 Qh3 18. Kd2 Bd8 19. Rhb1 Bc6 20. Bc5 Bxb7 21. Rxb7 Rc8 22. Kc1 f6 23. Nxd5 exd5 24. Qe2 Rc7 25. Rxc7 Bxc7 26. e6 Bb6 27. Bxb6 O-O 28. e7 Re8 29. Bd8 Qc8 30. Kb2 g6 31. Qd3 Qc6 32. Qc3 Qb5+ 33. Qb3 Qc5 34. a3 Kf7 35. Qd3 Qc6 36. Kb3 h5 37. Kb4 h4 38. g4 h3 39. Ka5 Rh8 40. a4 Rh4 41. Qg3 g5 42. Qd3 gxf4 43. Qf5 f3 44. Qxf3 Qe6 45. g5 Qc6 46. g6+ Ke8 47. Qb3 Rg4 48. g7 f5 49. g8=Q+ Rxg8 50. Qxh3 Qe6 51. Bb6 Kxe7 52. Qh7+ Qf7 53. Qxf7+ Kxf7 54. Kxa6 f4 55. a5 {Race of the Passed Pawns A rook is usually much stronger than a bishop in a pure endgame, but with dangerous passed pawns matters can be complicated:} f3 $2 {Now White's counterplay with the a-pawn is quick enough. Rene Kalmes has given two ways for Black to win the race:} (55... Ke6 56. Kb5 (56. Kb7 $6 Rg7+ 57. Kc6 Rg2 $1 58. a6 Rxc2+ 59. Kb5 Rxh2 60. a7 Rh8 $19) 56... Rg2 57. a6 Rxc2 58. a7 Rc8 59. h4 f3 60. Bf2 Ke5 61. Kb6 Re8 62. Bg3+ Kf5 $3 (62... Ke4 $2 63. h5 Ke3 64. h6 f2 65. Bxf2+ Kxf2 66. h7 d4 67. Kb7 Re7+ 68. Kb6 Re8 69. Kb7 Re7+ 70. Kb6 Re8 $11) 63. Kc6 (63. Kb7 d4 64. a8=Q Rxa8 65. Kxa8 d3 66. Be1 d2 67. Bxd2 f2 $19) 63... d4 64. Bb8 f2 65. a8=Q f1=Q 66. Qa5+ Ke4 67. Qd5+ Ke3 68. Kd7 Re4 69. Bd6 Qh3+ 70. Kc7 Rxh4 $19 {(Rene Kalmes)}) (55... Rg2 56. Kb7 (56. Kb5 Rxc2 57. a6 Rxh2 58. a7 Rh8 $19) 56... Rxc2 57. a6 Rxh2 58. a7 Ra2 $1 (58... Rh8 $2 59. Bd4 Re8 60. a8=Q Rxa8 61. Kxa8 $11) 59. Kc6 Ke6 60. Kb5 f3 61. Kb4 (61. Ba5 $6 f2 62. a8=Q f1=Q+ {[%cal Gf1b5] } 63. Kb6 Rb2+ 64. Ka7 Qf2+ 65. Ka6 Qe2+ 66. Ka7 Qe3+ 67. Ka6 Qd3+ 68. Ka7 Qd4+ 69. Ka6 Qc4+ 70. Ka7 Qc5+ 71. Ka6 Qb5+ 72. Ka7 Qxa5#) 61... Ra6 $1 (61... Ke5 $2 62. Ba5 Rxa5 63. Kxa5 f2 64. a8=Q f1=Q 65. Qb8+ $11) 62. Kb5 Ra1 63. Kb4 Rb1+ 64. Kc3 Rc1+ 65. Kd2 Ra1 66. Ke3 Ra3+ 67. Kf2 Ke5 68. Bc5 Ra2+ 69. Kxf3 d4 70. Bb6 Kd5 71. Kf4 Ra3 $19 {(Rene Kalmes) Zugzwang}) 56. Kb7 Rg2 (56... Rg4 { is met by} 57. a6 d4 58. a7 f2 59. a8=Q f1=Q 60. Qa2+ Kg7 61. Qd5 {and Black can not win, e.g.} Qf7+ 62. Qxf7+ Kxf7 63. Kc6 Ke6 64. Kc5 Re4 65. Kc4 Ke5 66. Bc7+ Kf5 67. Bb6 $11) 57. a6 Rxc2 58. a7 Ra2 59. h4 (59. a8=Q {is playable as well, but after} Rxa8 60. Kxa8 Ke6 {White must use his h-pawn to deflect Black's king:} 61. h4 (61. Kb7 $2 Ke5 62. h4 d4 $19) 61... Ke5 (61... Kf5 62. h5 Kg5 63. Kb7 Kxh5 64. Kc6 $11) 62. h5 d4 63. Bxd4+ Kxd4 64. h6 f2 65. h7 f1=Q 66. h8=Q+ $11) 59... Kf6 60. h5 Kg5 61. a8=Q Rxa8 62. Kxa8 Kxh5 63. Kb7 (63. Kb7 Kg4 64. Kc6 Kf4 65. Kxd5 $11) 1/2-1/2

Carlsen's King

Activity is often of crucial importance in rook endings. An active king can decide the issue:

[Event "2nd Norway Chess 2014"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2014.06.08"] [Round "5"] [White "Carlsen, M."] [Black "Aronian, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D38"] [WhiteElo "2881"] [BlackElo "2815"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [PlyCount "185"] [EventDate "2014.06.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Nbd7 8. e3 g5 9. Bg3 Ne4 10. Nd2 Nxg3 11. fxg3 Nb6 12. Bd3 Qe7 13. Qf3 Be6 14. a3 Bxc3 15. bxc3 O-O-O 16. a4 Bd7 17. a5 Na4 18. a6 Rhe8 19. Kf2 Kb8 20. Rhe1 Nxc3 21. axb7 Qb4 22. Kg1 Qb2 23. Nf1 f5 24. Ra5 Ba4 25. Rc5 Rf8 26. h3 Rf6 27. Nh2 Rdf8 28. Qf1 Ne4 29. Re2 Qa3 30. Bxe4 fxe4 31. Qe1 c6 32. Ra5 Qb3 33. Qa1 Qd1+ 34. Qxd1 Bxd1 35. Re1 Bh5 36. g4 Be8 37. Rea1 Rf2 38. Rxa7 Rb2 39. Nf1 Kc7 40. Ra8 Kxb7 41. R1a7+ Kb6 42. Re7 Rbf2 43. Rb8+ Ka6 44. Ng3 Bg6 45. Rxf8 Rxf8 46. Re6 Be8 47. Rxh6 Kb5 48. Rh7 Kc4 49. Ra7 Bg6 50. Ra6 Rf6 51. Ra3 Kb4 52. Ra1 Kc3 53. Rf1 Re6 54. Rf8 Kd2 55. Nf1+ Kd3 56. Kf2 Re7 57. Rg8 Re6 58. Ke1 Rf6 59. Rg7 Re6 60. Ra7 Re8 61. Ra3+ Kc2 62. Ra6 Rc8 63. Ke2 Be8 64. Ra5 Kc3 65. Ng3 Rb8 66. Rc5+ Kb2 67. Nh5 Bxh5 68. gxh5 Rh8 69. g4 Rh6 70. Kf2 Re6 71. Kg3 Rf6 { Carlsen's King Activity is often of crucial importance in rook endings. An active king can decide the issue:} 72. h4 $1 {White's passed pawns will win the race as the king can help, while Black's king is only a spectator.} Rf3+ 73. Kg2 gxh4 74. h6 Rxe3 (74... Rf6 75. g5 Rg6 76. Kh3 Rxg5 77. Rxc6 Rh5 78. Rf6 (78. Kg4 $2 {runs into} h3 $11) 78... Kc3 79. Kg4 h3 80. Kxh5 h2 81. Rf1 $18) 75. h7 h3+ 76. Kh2 Re2+ 77. Kxh3 Re1 78. Kg2 {Carlsen's king wins the fight against the rook.} Re2+ 79. Kg3 Re3+ 80. Kh4 Re1 81. Kg5 ({Of course not } 81. h8=Q $4 Rh1+ $11) 81... Rh1 82. Kg6 Rh4 (82... e3 83. Rxc6 e2 84. Re6 e1=Q 85. Rxe1 Rxe1 86. h8=Q $18) 83. Rxc6 e3 (83... Rxg4+ {is met by} 84. Kh5 Rg1 85. Rh6 e3 86. h8=Q e2 87. Qb8+ Kc3 88. Rc6+ $18) 84. Re6 $5 {The rook moves behind the passed pawn, which is good technique.} (84. g5 {wins as well, but the queen ending after} e2 85. Re6 Re4 86. Rxe4 dxe4 87. h8=Q e1=Q 88. d5+ $18 {is more difficult to play.}) 84... Rxg4+ 85. Kh5 Rg1 (85... Rg3 {is met by } 86. Kh4 Rg1 87. Rxe3 Rh1+ 88. Rh3 $18) 86. Rxe3 Rh1+ 87. Kg6 Rg1+ 88. Kf7 Rh1 89. Kg8 Rg1+ 90. Kh8 Rg4 91. Re5 {[%cal Ge5d5]} Rxd4 92. Kg7 Rg4+ (92... Rh4 93. Rxd5 $18) 93. Kh6 {And Aronian resigned as Carlsen can use his rook to shield his king from the rain of rook checks.} (93. Kh6 Rh4+ 94. Rh5 $18) 1-0

Aronian's Activity

Activity is usually very important in rook endings:

[Event "2nd Norway Chess 2014"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2014.06.04"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2815"] [BlackElo "2771"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [PlyCount "109"] [EventDate "2014.06.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. e4 d5 9. Qc2 dxe4 10. Nxe4 Bb7 11. Bc3 Nbd7 12. Nxf6+ Bxf6 13. Bd3 c5 14. Be4 Bxe4 15. Qxe4 O-O 16. O-O Qc7 17. Rad1 a6 18. Rfe1 Rfd8 19. Qe3 cxd4 20. Bxd4 h6 21. Bxf6 Nxf6 22. Ne5 b5 23. Rc1 bxc4 24. Rxc4 Qd6 25. Qf3 Qd5 26. Kg2 a5 27. Ra4 Ra6 28. Re3 Rf8 29. Rc4 a4 30. b4 a3 31. Qxd5 Nxd5 32. Rb3 Rfa8 33. b5 Rb6 34. Nd7 Rb7 35. Nc5 Rb6 36. Na6 Kf8 37. Nc7 Ra5 38. Nxd5 exd5 39. Rc5 Ke7 40. Rxd5 Ke6 41. Rc5 Rb7 42. Re3+ Kf6 43. Rc6+ Kf5 44. b6 f6 {Aronian's Activity Activity is usually very important in rook endings:} 45. Rc7 $5 {Aronian breaks this line of defense.} ({After} 45. Rb3 Kg6 {White should also be winning, but it is not easy to break through.}) 45... Rxc7 $2 {Now White's passed c-pawn will decide the day in his favor.} (45... Rxb6 {was more tenacious, but probably also insufficient as White can attack Black's king now in many lines, e.g.} 46. Rxg7 Rb2 (46... Ra4 47. Rf3+ Ke6 48. Rh7 $16) (46... h5 47. h3 Ra4 (47... Rba6 48. Rh7 $16) 48. Kf3 Rbb4 49. Ree7 Rc4 50. Rh7 Rc3+ 51. Kg2 Rc2 52. Rxh5+ Kg6 53. g4 f5 (53... Rxa2 $2 54. Rhh7 f5 55. Rhg7+ Kh6 56. g5+ Kh5 57. Re6 $18) 54. Rxf5 Rac4 55. Kg3 Rc1 56. Re6+ Kg7 57. Re3 $18) 47. g4+ Kf4 48. Rf3+ Ke4 49. Kg3 h5 (49... Kd4 $6 50. Rd7+ Kc4 51. Rf4+ Kc3 52. Rc7+ Kd2 53. Rd4+ Ke1 54. Rc1+ Ke2 55. Rc3 Re5 (55... Rxa2 $2 56. Re3+ Kf1 57. Rd1#) 56. Rxa3 $18) 50. gxh5 Rxh5 51. Rg4+ Ke5 52. Re3+ Kd6 53. Rxa3 $16) 46. bxc7 Rc5 47. Re7 {[%cal Ge7c7,Ge7e1,Ge7g7] Aronian's rook controls everything in sight.} g5 (47... Kg6 48. Kf3 f5 49. Ke3 Kf6 50. Kd4 Rc2 51. Rd7 Ke6 52. Rxg7 Kd6 53. Rh7 $18) 48. Kf3 {White's king will come soner or later.} Rc3+ 49. Ke2 Kg4 50. Kd2 Rc6 51. Kd3 Kh3 (51... Kf3 52. Rf7 Kxf2 53. Rxf6+ Rxf6 54. c8=Q $18) 52. Kd4 Kxh2 53. Kd5 Rc2 54. Kd6 Kg2 55. Rf7 (55. Rf7 Kxf2 56. Rxf6+ Kxg3 57. Rxh6 g4 58. Kd7 {[%cal Gh6c6]} Rxc7+ 59. Kxc7 Kf2 60. Kc6 g3 61. Rf6+ Ke2 62. Rg6 Kf2 63. Kc5 g2 64. Kb4 g1=Q 65. Rxg1 Kxg1 66. Kxa3 Kf2 67. Kb4 $18) 1-0

Magnus mighty queen

The queen and knight duo can be very strong, when they cooperate well:

[Event "2nd Norway Chess 2014"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2014.06.13"] [Round "9"] [White "Carlsen, M."] [Black "Agdestein, S."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2881"] [BlackElo "2628"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2014.06.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 d5 6. Bg2 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bd6 8. Nc3 O-O 9. O-O dxc4 10. Ne5 c6 11. bxc4 Qc7 12. Bf4 Bb7 13. Rc1 Nh5 14. Ne4 Nxf4 15. gxf4 c5 16. Qd3 Bxe5 17. Ng5 g6 18. Qh3 h5 19. dxe5 Nc6 20. Ne4 Nd4 21. Nf6+ Kg7 22. Rfe1 Nf5 23. Rc3 Rh8 24. Rd1 Rad8 25. Rcd3 Rd4 26. e3 Rxd3 27. Rxd3 Bxg2 28. Qxg2 Rd8 29. Kf1 Kf8 30. Rxd8+ Qxd8 31. Ke2 Qc8 32. a3 Ke7 33. h3 Kd8 34. Qe4 Kc7 35. Nh7 Qe8 36. Ng5 b5 37. Qd3 a6 38. Kd2 Kb6 39. Kc3 Qe7 40. Ne4 Qc7 41. Kb3 Kc6 {Magnus mighty queen The queen and knight duo can be very strong, when they cooperate well:} 42. Nc3 $5 {Magnus increases his pressure on the light square to provoke the opening of inroads.} bxc4+ $2 {Now Black can not stop the invasion of the queen.} ({After} 42... Qa5 $1 {it is more or less equal as the following sample line illustrates:} 43. Qe4+ Kb6 44. Qa8 bxc4+ 45. Kxc4 (45. Kb2 Kc7 46. Qa7+ Kd8 47. Qb7 Ne7 $11) 45... Qxa3 46. Qb8+ Kc6 47. Qe8+ Kb6 48. Kd3 Qa1 $11) 43. Qxc4 {[%cal Gc4a4,Ga4e8,Gc4e4,Ge4a8]} Qb6+ $6 (43... Qb7+ 44. Kc2 Kd7 {might be more precise, but White is still much better after} 45. Qe4) 44. Kc2 Qa5 45. Qe4+ Kc7 46. Qa8 c4 $2 {Black does not have time for this advance.} (46... Kd7 $1 {was called for, but White keeps good winning chances after} 47. Qb7+ Ke8 48. Qb8+ Kd7 49. Kb3 c4+ 50. Kb2 $16) 47. Qf8 $1 {[%cal Gf8a3,Gf8f7] This invasion is much stronger than} (47. Qa7+ $2 Kd8 48. Qxf7 $2 Qxa3 49. Qb7 Ne7 $1) 47... Kd7 $6 (47... Nh6 $1 {was much more tenacious, but still insufficient due to} 48. Qe7+ (48. Qxh6 $2 Qxa3 49. Qg7 Qb3+ 50. Kd2 Qb2+ 51. Kd1 Qxc3 52. Qxf7+ Kb8 53. Qxe6 Qd3+ 54. Ke1 Qb1+ 55. Ke2 Qd3+ 56. Kf3 c3 57. Qb6+ Kc8 58. e6 Qb5 59. Qd4 Qc6+ 60. Ke2 Qxe6 61. Qxc3+ Kd7 {is not so clear.}) 48... Kb8 49. Ne4 Qa4+ 50. Kd2 Qa5+ 51. Ke2 c3 52. Nd6 Qc7 53. Qe8+ Ka7 54. Qa4 Kb6 55. Qb3+ Ka7 56. Kd3 $18) 48. Ne4 $1 { Magnus knight joins the attack, which decides the day.} Qa4+ 49. Kc1 Qc6 50. Qxf7+ Kc8 (50... Ne7 51. Nf6+ Kd8 52. Qf8+ $18) 51. Nd6+ Kd8 (51... Nxd6 52. Qxe6+ $18) 52. Qf8+ Kc7 53. Qc8+ Kb6 54. Qb8+ (54. Qb8+ Kc5 55. Qb4+ Kd5 56. Qd2+ Kc5 57. Qa5+ $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.




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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PablodPena@gmail.com PablodPena@gmail.com 6/15/2014 08:38
Shouldn't Carlsen - Aronian 77 Kxh3? be considered a mistake as Kg3! seemed a much simpler way to win. Re3+ kf2! Rf3+ Ke2 Rf8 Rxc6 h2 Rh6 Rh8 g5
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