Mueller on Endgames: Lessons from Gibraltar

by Karsten Müller
2/4/2015 – With so many grandmasters playing in Gibraltar, and then masters, you might expect endgame guru Karsten Mueller to choose some mindboggling sequence by a big name for his selection, but enlightenment can come from anywhere as he shows in his first example. See also how lack of endgame knowledge can lead you to fall for that 'last trap'. These and others await your pleasure.

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The bodycheck

As a further example of why you should analyze and study your own games, in this example neither
player is even a master, yet there is much to be learned from this typical pawn endgame motif

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2015"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2015.01.28"] [Round "2.119"] [White "Aure, Anders Nilsson"] [Black "Holleland, Sigve"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A29"] [WhiteElo "1688"] [BlackElo "2116"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/8/2p1k2p/2P4P/6K1/4P3/8 b - - 0 82"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "2015.01.27"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 82... Ke4 $3 (82... Kd4 $2 83. Kf4 Kxc4 84. e4 Kd4 85. e5 c4 86. e6 c3 87. e7 c2 88. e8=Q c1=Q+ 89. Kf5 $11) 83. Kf2 Kd4 $2 {The wrong direction as the remaining h-pawn is not easy to convert.} (83... Kf4 $1 {wins the h-pawn first and the game later, e.g.} 84. e3+ (84. Kg2 Kg4 $19) 84... Kg4 85. e4 Kxh4 86. Kf3 Kg5 87. Kg3 Kf6 88. Kh4 Ke5 89. Kxh5 Kxe4 $19) 84. e3+ $2 {White misses the moment.} ({Admittedly, it is not visually obvious, but White's saving move involves going around his own pawn with} 84. Ke1 $1 Kxc4 85. Kd2 {draws, e.g.} Kd4 ({Attempts such as} 85... Kb3 {are no better.} 86. e4 Kc4 87. Ke3 $11) 86. e3+ Ke4 87. Ke2 Kf5 (87... c4 88. Kd2 $11) 88. Kf3 c4 89. e4+ Ke6 (89... Ke5 { changes nothing since after} 90. Ke3 c3 91. Kd3 c2 92. Kxc2 Kxe4 93. Kc3 Kf4 94. Kd4 {is an elementary draw.}) 90. Ke2 Ke5 91. Ke3 c3 92. Kd3 c2 93. Kxc2 Kxe4 94. Kd2 $11) 84... Kxc4 85. Ke2 (85. Kf3 Kd3 86. e4 (86. Kf2 c4 87. Ke1 Kxe3 88. Kd1 Kf3 $19) 86... Kd4 87. Kf4 (87. e5 Kxe5 88. Ke3 Kf5 89. Kd3 Kg4 90. Kc4 Kxh4 91. Kxc5 Kg3 $19) 87... c4 88. e5 c3 89. e6 c2 90. e7 c1=Q+ $19 { Check!}) 85... Kc3 $1 {Another strong bodycheck, and the only winning move.} ( 85... Kb3 $2 {is met by} 86. Kd2 (86. e4 {is also playable.}) 86... c4 87. Kc1 Kc3 88. e4 Kd4 89. Kc2 Kxe4 90. Kc3 Kf4 91. Kxc4 Kg3 92. Kd3 Kxh4 93. Ke2 Kg3 94. Kf1 $11) 86. Kf3 c4 87. Kf4 (87. Ke2 Kb2 $19) (87. e4 Kd4 88. Ke2 Kxe4 89. Kd2 Kf3 (89... Kd4 $2 90. Kc2 $11 {is only drawn according to Bähr's rule as the passed pawn c4 has crossed the determining diagonal f2-a7.}) 90. Kc3 Kg3 91. Kxc4 Kxh4 92. Kd3 Kg3 93. Ke2 Kg2 $19) 87... Kd3 88. Kg5 (88. e4 c3 89. e5 c2 90. e6 c1=Q+ $19) 88... c3 89. Kxh5 c2 90. Kg6 c1=Q 91. h5 Qc6+ 92. Kh7 Qf6 (92... Qf6 93. h6 Qf7+ 94. Kh8 Kxe3 95. h7 Qf8#) 0-1

The last trick

Rook endings have a large drawish tendency, but it pays to know the
right moves. Never neglect endgame knowledge as it is often decisive.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2015"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2015.02.01"] [Round "6.26"] [White "Muzychuk, A."] [Black "Walton, A."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C12"] [WhiteElo "2544"] [BlackElo "2129"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5rP1/8/5PR1/6K1/8/8/8 w - - 0 87"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2015.01.27"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 87. Rg6 $5 {A good try as} (87. Kf4 {is also met by} Rxg7 88. f6 Rxg5 89. Kxg5 Kf7 90. Kf5 Kf8 $1 $11) 87... Rxg7 88. Kg5 Kf7 $2 {Black falls into the trap.} ({All was not lost though, and Black could have saved the game after} 88... Kf8 $5 89. Kh6 (89. Kf6 Ra7 $11) 89... Ra7 $11 {Black's rook breaks free.}) ({ Obviously not} 88... Rxg6+ $2 89. Kxg6 $18 {and White wins easily.}) 89. Kh6 $1 {Now Black's rook can not escape.} Rxg6+ (89... Rg8 90. Rxg8 Kxg8 91. Kg6 Kf8 92. Kf6 {Opposition} Kg8 93. Ke7 $18) 90. fxg6+ Kg8 (90... Kg8 91. g7 Kf7 92. Kh7 $18) 1-0

The breakthrough

A pawn majority can be mobilised in several ways, but few are as efficient and satisfying as that decisive breakthrough ramming through the opponent's position.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2015"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2015.01.30"] [Round "4.57"] [White "Georgiadis, N."] [Black "Galmandakh, Badrakh"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C41"] [WhiteElo "2490"] [BlackElo "2240"] [Annotator "Karsten Mueller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3b4/8/5p1p/p1k4P/5PP1/1P6/2K2N2/8 w - - 0 63"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "2015.01.27"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 63. g5 $3 {The direct breakthrough is strong as the resulting passed pawn is very far advanced.} fxg5 (63... f5 64. gxh6 Bf6 65. Nd3+ Kd4 66. Ne5 Ke4 67. Ng6 $18) 64. fxg5 Kd5 (64... Bxg5 65. Ne4+ Kd5 66. Nxg5 hxg5 67. h6 $18) ({ After} 64... hxg5 65. h6 {the h-pawn can not be stopped:} Kb4 (65... Bf6 66. Ne4+ $18) (65... Kd5 66. Ng4 Bb6 67. Nf6+ Ke6 68. h7 $18) 66. Ng4 Bb6 67. Kd3 Kxb3 68. h7 $18) 65. g6 (65. gxh6 {wins as well.}) 65... Bf6 66. Ng4 Bg7 67. Kd3 Bf8 68. Ke3 Ke6 (68... Kc5 69. Kd3 Kb4 70. Kc2 a4 71. bxa4 Kxa4 72. Kc3 ({ Even} 72. Nxh6 $5 $18 {is playable.}) 72... Kb5 73. Kd4 Kc6 74. Ke5 Kd7 75. Kf6 Ke8 76. Nxh6 Bxh6 77. g7 $18) 69. Ke4 Bg7 70. Ne3 Bc3 71. Nf5 Bd2 72. Nd4+ Kf6 73. Kd5 Be3 74. Ne6 Bd2 75. Nd4 Bc3 76. Ne6 Bb2 77. Kd6 Ba3+ 78. Kd7 Bb2 79. Kd6 Ba3+ 80. Nc5 Bb2 81. Kd5 Kf5 82. Ne6 $6 {Not most precise, but the position is still won, so maybe the result should be 1-0 ?} (82. Nb7 $5 {wins quicker, e.g.} Kg5 83. Ke6 Kxh5 84. Kf5 Kh4 85. Nxa5 Kg3 86. b4 h5 87. b5 h4 88. b6 h3 89. b7 Be5 90. Kxe5 h2 91. g7 h1=Q 92. g8=Q+ $18) (82. Ne6 $6 Kf6 83. Nd8 Bc1 (83... Kg5 84. Ke6 Kxh5 85. Kf5 Kh4 86. Nc6 Bg7 (86... h5 87. Ne5 $18) 87. Nxa5 Kg3 88. b4 $18) 84. Nc6 Bd2 85. Kc4 Be1 86. Kd3 Kg7 87. Nd4 Kf6 88. Nf5 $18) 1-0

The fortressbreaker

In spite of his modest 2081 rating, Black is positioned for an IM norm in Gibraltar, and here is one reasone why. Though pure opposite colored bishop endings have a large drawish tendency, never say never.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2015"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2015.01.28"] [Round "2.69"] [White "De Haan, E."] [Black "Yu, Jonathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E42"] [WhiteElo "2299"] [BlackElo "2081"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/2pB4/3b2p1/p2P2pp/P3k1P1/7K/8 w - - 0 59"] [PlyCount "14"] [EventDate "2015.01.27"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 59. Be5 $2 {White chooses the wrong defensive diagonal.} ({After} 59. Bc5 Kf2 60. Bd6 {Black can not make real progress, e.g.} Kf3 (60... Be6 61. Bc7 $11) 61. Kg1 c5 (61... hxg3 62. Bc5 $11) 62. dxc5 Bc6 63. Kh2 Ke3 64. Be7 Kd3 65. gxh4 gxh4 66. Bxh4 Kc2 67. Be1 Kb3 68. Bb4 $11) 59... h3 60. Bf6 Kd3 61. Kg1 Kc4 62. Be5 {Now comes the fortressbreaker} c5 $1 63. dxc5 Kb3 $3 {and the second black passed pawn decides the day:} 64. c6 Kxa3 65. c7 Bb7 0-1

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.


Topics endgame, gibraltar

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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