The Golden Guidelines of Endgame Play

7/17/2014 – Maybe Magnus Carlsen plays the endgame so well because he studied the books of Karsten Müller? At any rate, if you plan to become World Champion or not, listening to the German GM explaining the endgame is entertaining and instructive. Chris Wainscott took a look at Müller's new DVD "Golden Guidelines of Endgame Play" and was impressed.

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Farewell Old Friend

by Chris Wainscott

Chess Endgames 14: The Golden Guidelines of Endgame Play, by Karsten Müller, Fritztrainer DVD, ChessBase, Video running time: 7 hours 27 min. $34.43; €29.90; €25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)

German GM Karsten Müller is one of the world's leading endgames experts, and over the past several years he has produced a series of DVDs designed to cover everything from the most basic to the most complex endgames. With the release of Golden Guidelines, GM Müller wraps up the series with some rules of thumb in which to navigate complex endgames. Yet, as GM Müller points out in the introduction, you cannot rely on guidelines to replace concrete calculation.

After the introduction the DVD is divided into several chapters amongst two sections:

1st Part: General Rules of Thumb

  •  1. An endgame is no middle game
  • 1.1 The king should be activated
  • 1.2 King or knight should block enemy passed pawns, not the rook
  • 1.3 Use the sharp endgame weapon zugzwang
  • 1.4 Caution with mutual zugzwang
  •  2. The correct exchange
  • 2.1 The defender exchanges pawns
  • 2.2 The attacker does not exchange attacking potential
  • 2.3 It doesn't matter what disappears from the board but what remains
  • 2.4 Your own active pieces should not be exchanged
  • 2.5 Defenders of weaknesses should be exchanged
  • 2.6 Bishops can usually be exchanged more easily than knights
  • 2.7 Liquidating to the pawn endgame requires extreme caution
  • 2.8 A rook fighting minor pieces welcomes exchanges
  •  3. Weaknesses
  • 3.1 The principle of two weaknesses
  • 3.2 If you dominate one colour complex, the decisive breakthrough takes place on the other colour complex
  • 3.3 If the opponent has static weaknesses the dynamic potential should be reduced, and with static weaknesses you should not restrict yourself to passive defence
  •  4. Thinking methods
  • 4.1 Flexibility
  • 4.2 Prophylaxis
  • 4.3 Do not rush
  • 4.4 Improve the worst piece

2nd Part: Principles of Special Endgames

  •  1. Checkmating with bishop and knight
  • 1.1: the W-maneuver
  • 2. Pawn endgames
  • 2.1 The square rule
  • 2.2 Opposition
  • 2.3 Bodycheck
  • 2.4 Triangle manoeuvre
  • 2.5 Distant passed pawn
  • 2.6 Bähr's rule
  •  3. Queen vs. pawn
  • 3.1 Winning zones with rook and bishop pawn on the 7h rank
  • 3.2 Using the zones and complicated cases
  •  4. Rooks vs. pawns
  • 4.1 Principles and motifs like bodycheck and intermediate check
  •  5. Rook endgames
  • 5.1 The most important positions: Philidor, Lucena and Vancura position
  • 5.2 Activate the rook!
  • 5.3 Rooks belong behind the passed pawn
  • 5.4 Don't promote the passed pawn automatically!
  • 5.5 A typical winning motif
  • 5.6 The umbrella
  • 5.7 Intermediate check weakens the opponent
  •  6. Knight endgames
  • 6.1 Knight vs. pawns
  • 6.1.1 The magic square
  • 6.1.2 Knight geometry
  • 6.2 Knight endgames
  • 6.2.1 Fine's fine rule of thumb
  • 6.2.2 Botvinnik's rule: knight endgames are like pawn endgames
  •  7. Bishop endgames and bishop vs. knight
  • 7.1 Bishop vs. pawns
  • 7.1.1 The wrong rook pawn
  • 7.2 Same colour bishop endgame
  • 7.2.1 Centurini's rule
  • 7.2.2 The art of playing the pawns, Part 1 Restriction method
  • 7.2.3 The art of playing the pawns, Part 2 Capablanca's rule
  • 7.3 Opposite coloured bishop endgames
  • 7.3.1 The critical distance of two passed pawns is 3 squares
  • 7.3.2 Fortresses and siege techniques
  • 7.4 Bishop vs. knight
  • 7.4.1 The bishop's side has the advantage
  • 7.4.2 The knight's side has the advantage
  •  8. Queen endgames
  • 8.1 Queen and pawn vs. queen
  • 8.1.1 Drawing zones for the defending king with the rook pawn remaining
  • 8.1.2 Defence with the knight pawn remaining
  • 8.1.3 If a bishop's pawn remains, there are no distant drawing zones
  • 8.1.4 Run to the hills
  • 8.1.5 Perpetual check motifs
  •  9. Rook vs. minor piece
  • 9.1 Rook vs. knight
  • 9.1.1 The pawnless endgame is drawn if the knight can join the king
  • 9.1.2 Fortresses and dumps
  • 9.2 Rook vs. bishop
  • 9.2.1 The pawnless endgame is drawn
  • 9.2.2 With blocked pawns the bishop should be able to attack the pawn
  • 9.2.3 The most important fortress
  • 9.2.4 An incredible depth
  •  10. Rook and minor piece vs. rook and minor piece, and Capablanca's theorem
  • 10.1 Rook and knight vs. rook and knight
  • 10.2 Rook and bishop vs. rook and bishop with same colour bishops
  • 10.3 Rook and bishop vs. rook and bishop with opposite coloured \bishops
  • 10.4 The Fischer endgame
  • 10.5 The Andersson endgame 10.6 Capablanca's theorem

Granted, the vast majority of the extensive examples above are relatively short, however, you can see the overall breadth and scope of this DVD.

One benefit of the Fritz Trainer format is that the user can enjoy some control of the viewing experience. For example, if you are watching a game where Black wins, you can flip the board so that the black pieces are at the bottom of the screen. You can also turn on a chess engine so that you can see alternate ideas, as well as a clear evaluation of the position. The bundled ChessBase Reader has the Fritz 11 SE, Rybka 3, and Crafty 23.01 engines included. While if you have ChessBase or one of the Fritz-family of programs, you can use your engine of choice. Additionally, the DVD comes with a ChessBase file containing the games and analysis, so that you can work through the examples at your own pace to gain a greater understanding of the themes and how to approach them.

The screen layout allows you to see a video clip of GM Müller presenting the game, along with the board, and the annotated score. Each element can be resized to individual preferences or removed from the screen altogether.

Karsten Müller discusses 'The Principle of Two Weaknesses', illustrated by Carlsen-Caruana (2012)

 

The first segment on the king being activated begins with an example taken from the game Onishchuk-Samhouri from the 2012 Olympiad:

Here Onischuk plays 22.h3! and is now able to get his king active to penetrate into Black's position. 22...f5 23.Kh2 Kg7 24.Kg3 Kg6 25.Kf4 h5

Here Onischuk's king becomes unstoppable. 26.Ke5! h4 27.Kd6 Be6 28.Kc7 Bd5 29.g3 Kg5 30.Bc4!

Of course, there is quite a bit of analysis on the DVD along with this example, rather than just the main line that I have shown here.

This chapter then concludes with six additional examples: Timofeev-Pashikian 2010, Kotronias-Jakovenko 2010, Aronian-Kramnik 2013, Karjakin-Volokitin 2012, Carlsen-Shirov 2008, and Short-Beliavsky 1992. Although each game is covered rather briefly, Dr. Müller ensures that he presents the critical moments that illustrate the theme of the chapter; in this case, that the king should be active. He is also a very entertaining presenter because he looks like Bill Hader and sounds like Darth Vader.

One concept that I found particularly interesting was from Chapter 3.2 which states "If you dominate one color complex, the decisive breakthrough takes place on the other color complex." I had never heard this phrased quite like that. The idea is if you have a strong grip on the squares of one color, then oftentimes managing to weaken your opponent on the other color complex is enough to win.

An excellent illustration of this is Nakamura-Kramnik 2011:

Here Kramnik has a strong grip on the light squares. After 30...Kh7 31.Kf2 Kg6 32.Rc2? Ra3! 33.h3 b5 34.Rb2 a6! 35.Rc2 Kf5 36.Kf3, Kramnik is ready for the decisive break.

This comes in the form of 36...b4 37.g4+ hxg4+ 38.hxg4+ Kg6 39.Ke4 bxc3 40.Rh2 Ra4 41.Rf2 a5 42.Kd3 c2!? 43.f5+ Kg5

 

44.Bb2 Nb4+ 45.Kc3 Rxa2 46.Rf1 Kxg4 47.fxe6 fxe6 0-1

Lastly, let's take a look at an example from part two of the DVD (principles of special endgames). This comes from Chapter 8.1 Drawing zones for the defending king with the rook pawn remaining. The game is Carlsen-Gashimov 2011:

73...Kd3? And now Magnus was able to win after 74.Qd7+ Ke2?! 75.Kg8 Qg6+ 76.Kf8 Qh6+ 77.Qg7 Qf4+ 78.Qf7 Qh6+ 79.Ke7 Qh4+ 80.Ke8 Qa4+ 81.Kf8 Qd4 82.Qh5+ Kf2 83.h8=Q Qd6+ 84.Kf7 Qd7+ 85.Kg6 1-0

However, Dr. Müller illustrates that the correct starting move was 73...Kb3, as the drawing zone for this type of ending is in the corner furthest away from the enemy king.

He goes on to explain that the typical plan for the attacker in a position like this would be to bring their own king to a neighboring rank or file, but with the defending king this far away the attacker cannot maintain coordination amongst all of their pieces. As you can see, some of this material is highly advanced, and admittedly quite rare.

GM Müller has done a great job on this DVD and the series as a whole. I find the series to be one of the best produced works on studying the endgame in any format. Careful and repeated viewing of these disks cannot help but improve the viewer's game, and Golden Guidelines is an excellent way to wrap up the series. You may not be likely to play a game tomorrow in which you have to find the drawing zone in a Q vs. Q+P endgame, but when you do you will have a much better understanding of how to win or defend such endings.

My assessment of this product: "Excellent - Everyone should own"

 

Source: Chess Cafe

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