Mueller on Endgames: Moscow mastery

by Karsten Müller
2/5/2015 – An opponent is most dangerous when his back is to the wall, and this is especially true in chess. In the first position, 13-year-old Iranian prodigy shows his alertness as he brings home the point. The obvious move can be wrong, but would you have seen it? How about the adage that states a rook belongs behind the pawn? So true, yet here it takes on a rather spectacular form.

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Avoiding the trap

Despite being only thirteen years old, Iranian M. Amin Tabatabaei showed
his knowledge and alertness as he avoided a final trap the more experienced
Aleksey Goganov had hoped would save him. Study the position and choose
your answer before replaying the analysis. Black to play and win.

[Event "Moscow Open A 2015"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2015.02.03"] [Round "4.13"] [White "Goganov, Aleksey"] [Black "Tabatabaei, M.amin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D20"] [WhiteElo "2615"] [BlackElo "2444"] [Annotator "Silver,Albert"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/4k1p1/4pb2/3b3p/3P1R1P/3K1PP1/8/8 b - - 0 45"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2015.01.31"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 45... Bb7 $3 {Though other moves with the same idea would also win, such as Ba8 or g6, the key is to realize that g5 cannot be played. Goganov had undoubtedly been holding out for this chance.} (45... g5 $4 {would be a blunder incredibly and would draw. The exchange will be captured, but it is vital a tempo be wasted first.} 46. hxg5 Bxg5 47. Re4 Bxe4+ $6 ({It is better to play for zugzwang with} 47... Bh6 $5 {when practical winning chances remain. (Karsten Müller)}) 48. Kxe4 $1 {This is the key difference. The bishop is the wrong color to support the h-pawn and after the capture by the king, Black cannot avoid exchanging off his e-pawn and thus the draw. For example:} Kd6 ({ Or} 48... Kf6 49. d5 e5 50. f4 exf4 51. gxf4 {draw.}) 49. f4 Bf6 50. f5 {and with the e-pawn eliminated they can shake hands.}) 46. d5 (46. Ke2 g5 47. hxg5 Bxg5 48. Re4 Bxe4 49. fxe4 Kf7 {and it is only a matter of time.} 50. d5 e5 $1) 46... Bxd5 47. g4 hxg4 48. Rxg4 Bxf3 49. Ra4 Kf7 50. Ke3 Bd5 51. Kf2 Kg6 52. Kg3 Kh5 53. Kh3 e5 54. Rb4 Be6+ 55. Kg3 Bf5 56. Ra4 g6 0-1

The mating net

It is sometimes easy to forget that direct attacks also occur in the endgame. Hungarian junior
Petra Papp (left), playing White, reminded her opponent of this in the following position.

[Event "Moscow Open Students w"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2015.02.02"] [Round "3.5"] [White "Papp, Petra"] [Black "Rodionova, Polina"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [WhiteElo "2285"] [BlackElo "2184"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/p7/k7/2K3RP/2P5/1P4pr/8/8 w - - 0 50"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2015.01.31"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [EventCategory "3"] 50. b4 $2 {The wrong way to start the attack.} ({After} 50. Kc6 $1 {White's king is safe from checks, what can not be said about Black's, e.g.} g2 51. b4 Ra3 52. Kc7 g1=Q 53. Rxg1 Rg3 54. Ra1+ Ra3 55. Rxa3#) 50... g2 $2 {Black misses the chance.} (50... Rh4 $1 {was the only defense, when Black can defend due to} 51. b5+ Kb7 52. Kb4 g2 53. Rxg2 Rxh5 54. Rg7+ Kb8 $11 {but care is of course still required.}) 51. Kc6 {Now everything works like clockwork for White again.} Rxh5 (51... Ra3 52. Kc7 g1=Q 53. Rxg1 Rg3 54. Ra1+ Ra3 55. Rxa3#) 52. Rxh5 (52. Rxh5 g1=Q 53. Ra5#) 1-0

The hunt

Take a minute to absorb the position. Black has a pawn ready to queen, and two
other pawns as backup. You are white and have a rook and two passed pawns,
including one on h5. Black just played Ne5 check. What do you play as White?

[Event "Moscow Open A 2015"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2015.02.02"] [Round "3.6"] [White "Tabatabaei, M."] [Black "Petrosian, TL."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B08"] [WhiteElo "2444"] [BlackElo "2663"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/2p1p3/6K1/4n2P/8/3k2P1/1p6/5R2 w - - 0 50"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2015.01.31"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 50. Kf5 $1 {The knight must be hunted.} ({After} 50. Kg7 $2 Ng4 {Black passed pawns are too quick, e.g.} 51. h6 Nxh6 52. Kxh6 c5 53. g4 c4 54. g5 c3 55. g6 c2 56. g7 c1=Q+ $19) 50... Nf7 51. Kg6 Nh8+ 52. Kg7 c5 {Passed pawns must be pushed.} (52... Kc2 $4 {is too slow due to} 53. Kxh8 b1=Q 54. Rxb1 Kxb1 55. h6 $18) 53. Rb1 $1 {The right way to deal with the passed pawns.} (53. Kxh8 $2 c4 54. h6 c3 55. h7 c2 {is dangerous only for White as Black queens first.}) 53... Kc2 54. Rxb2+ Kxb2 55. Kxh8 c4 56. h6 c3 57. h7 c2 58. Kg8 c1=Q 59. h8=Q+ ({ One finish might be} 59. h8=Q+ Qc3 60. Qxc3+ (60. Qh2+ Qc2 61. Qh8+ Qc3 $11) 60... Kxc3 61. g4 e5 62. g5 e4 63. g6 e3 64. g7 e2 65. Kf7 e1=Q 66. g8=Q $11) 1/2-1/2

The rook belongs behind the passed pawn

Another day, another lesson. Black realised a non standard version of this guideline in the game.

[Event "Moscow Open Students w"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2015.02.01"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Rodionova, Polina"] [Black "Sukandar, I."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2184"] [BlackElo "2392"] [Annotator "Karsten Müller"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/4k3/p5Rp/P1P2K2/5P2/6pr/8 b - - 0 46"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2015.01.31"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [EventCategory "3"] 46... Rh4+ $5 {The start of a very nice finish.} ({The standard autopilot (maybe turtle propagation is another name for the technique)} 46... h4 47. Ke3 h3 48. Kf2 Rh1 {wins as well.}) 47. Ke3 Rg4 $3 {Brilliant.} ({The point is that after} 47... Rg4 $3 48. Rxg4 hxg4 49. Kf2 gxf3 $19 {wins.}) 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.

Karsten Müller is considered to be one of the greatest endgame experts in the world. His books on the endgame - among them "Fundamentals of Chess Endings", co-authored with Frank Lamprecht, that helped to improve Magnus Carlsen's endgame knowledge - and his endgame columns for the ChessCafe website and the ChessBase Magazine helped to establish and to confirm this reputation. Karsten's Fritztrainer DVDs on the endgame are bestsellers. The mathematician with a PhD lives in Hamburg, and for more than 25 years he has been scoring points for the Hamburger Schachklub (HSK) in the Bundesliga.


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