Endgames from Astana

by Karsten Müller
10/1/2022 – Kateryna Lagno took clear first place at the Women’s Grand Prix in Astana, Kazakhstan. A 12-player single round robin, the event featured a number of remarkable confrontations. GM Karsten Müller analysed three of the most interesting endgames and shared his insights with us. Instructive and entertaining! | Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

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Using the active notation

You might be inclined to believe the game notations below are just to be looked at and the moves to be played through in your mind. But as most of you know you can click on the moves to get a separate replay board, which you can resize and move to the best place on your screen.

The popup board has full controls, and you can use the navigation buttons to advance the moves, as well as use an engine or save the game or position to your computer. In the engine window you can ask for multiple lines, or what the threat is, or see the positional evaluation of the position. 

Mutual zugzwangs

Zugzwang is one of the sharpest endgame weapons. And at times both sides can potentially make use of it. As was the case in the game between Polina Shuvalova and Zhu Jiner from round 4.


New queens for both sides

After opening, middlegame and endgame comes the fourth phase of the game, when both sides queen. The main guideline is that the first check wins! Check out this example from the encounter between Vaishali Rameshbabu and Elisabeth Paehtz.


The danger of far-advanced passed pawns 

Far-advanced passed pawns can be very powerful in an endgame. They might be so powerful that they justify giving up a rook to continue pushing them down the board. That is exactly what Tan Zhongyi did to beat Bibisara Assaubayeva in the eighth round.


The rook belongs behind the passed pawn

Vaishali played an excellent game against Aleksandra Goryachkina, but she failed to take advantage of her extra pawns in a rook endgame. In this case, as in many others, placing the rook behind the passed pawn was the way to win.


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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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