When technique matters - Endgame analyses from Riga

by Karsten Müller
11/2/2021 – Endgame specialist Kasten Müller continues to find instructive examples from the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss. The players are having a rest on Tuesday, so it is a good opportunity to find answers to a few technical questions: when to exchange down into a winning pawn endgame, how to defend with a bishop against a rook or how to handle an ending with bishops of opposite colours. | Photo: Mark Livshitz

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The third stage of the game

After six rounds, the participants of the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss are finally having a rest on Tuesday. In the open section, five players are tied atop the standings on 4½/6 points, with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Krishnan Sasikiran the latest to have joined the leading pack. Among the women, Lei Tingjie reclaimed sole first place by beating Jolanta Zawadzka.

With so much at stage — two spots in the next edition of the Candidates Tournaments — it is not surprising that the players are showing fierce defensive efforts, as every half point is crucial under such competitive conditions. Games often last 5 to 6 hours, with players needing to show good technique in the third stage of the game — the endgame.

Exchanging down into a win

Daniil Dubov and Monika Socko correctly assessed when to give up material to exchange down into a winning technical endgame. Dubov knew his passed pawns on the queenside would grant him the full point after giving up an exchange and swapping the queens.


35.Rxe6 Qxg3 36.fxg3 fxe6 is winning for White even if Black’s rook is the only piece left on the board.


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Defensive recourses

A material edge does not always guarantee a win in the endgame, as Aryan Tari and Elisabeth Paehtz demonstrated in Riga. While Paehtz defended with bishop (in the right diagonal) against rook, Tari calculated precisely to enter a drawn position with bishop and pawn against a lone king.


White gave up his knight with 61.Nc4+, as he knew that after 61...dxc4 62.Kxc4 his king would reach the ‘safe corner’ on a1 in time.


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Opposite-coloured bishops

Can White win with his far-advanced connected pawns on the kingside?


41.g6 was a good winning attempt by Dariusz Swiercz, but his compatriot Jeffery Xiong demonstrated that he had a fortress in this position.


Knight against bishop

White is a pawn up, but he has a knight against a bishop in a position with action on both flanks of the board. 


After 72.Na8 Ke6 (72...Kg7 surprisingly defended), Adhiban managed to regroup his knight and eventually take down his Malagasy opponent, Fy Antenaina Rakotomaharo.


Magical Chess Endgames Vol. 1 & 2 + The magic of chess tactics

In over 4 hours in front of the camera, Karsten Müller presents to you sensations from the world of endgames - partly reaching far beyond standard techniques and rules of thumb - and rounds off with some cases of with own examples.


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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Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 11/5/2021 04:35
Frits Fritschy: Many thanks for pointing this question out! 47 Kb4 was a good try but not winning. White can reach a drawn endgame wiuth queen and pawn against two pawns, but this is drawn: 47...Kb6 48 Kc4 Kc6 49 h4 g6 50. h5 gxh 51. gxh Kd6 52 Kd4 Ke6 53. Ke4 f5+ 54. Kd4 Kd6 54.b4 Ke6 55. Kc5 f4 56.Kb6 Kf5 and so on.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 11/5/2021 03:14
Mr. Müller, see the discussion about the pawn ending Vachier Lagrave-Shirov on the live page – was 47 Kb4 winning?
philidorchess philidorchess 11/3/2021 03:23
erony erony 11/2/2021 11:54
But 34...Kf8?? (Dubov-Šarić) was a terrible mistake.