Notable endgames from the Women’s World Cup

by Karsten Müller
8/20/2023 – The FIDE World Cup is coming to an end. One of the most exciting events in the chess calendar, it features an open section and a women’s section, with spots in the Candidates up for grabs in both events. The ever-curious GM Karsten Müller compiled the most interesting positions from the tournaments. Find here five instructive endgames from the women’s category! | Pictured: Divya Deshmukh | Photo: Anna Shtourman

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Fataliyeva’s fatal decision

Usually, a pawnless endgame with rook and knight against rook is an easy draw. But the setup can be difficult for the defending side, especially when the king is near a corner.

Ulviyya Fataliyeva

Ulviyya Fataliyeva | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

Deceptive simplicity

King and pawn endgames might look simple, but they can be very deep. A single mistake in move order might be the difference between getting a draw or a win.

Eline Roebers

Eline Roebers | Photo: FIDE / Stev Bonhage

Opening king roads

Often in the endgame phase, the attacking king needs to be activated to convert one’s advantage. Pawn breaks might be very useful in these cases.

Nurgyul Salimova, Oliwia Kiolbasa

Nurgyul Salimova and Oliwia Kiolbasa | Photo: FIDE / Anna Shtourman

The value of the initiative

Pure opposite-coloured bishop endings have a large drawish tendency, but with rooks still on the board they favour the attacker — like in the middlegame.

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

The knight hunt

In an endgame with bishop against knight, it is sometimes possible to fully neutralize the knight. A bit of patience is all one needs.

Bella Khotenashvili

Bella Khotenashvili | Photo: / Maria Emelianova

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 8/21/2023 06:45
Frits Fritschy: Your analysis seems to be correct as far as I can see. Many thanks for suggesting to analyse this amazing pawn endgame!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 8/20/2023 10:27
After 46... h5, 47.Kf2 was my try for a win. 47...d5 48.cxd5 Ke7 49.Kg3!? d3! (At first, I overlooked this and went on with 49...Kd6? 50.Kf4 Kxd5 51.h4 d3 52.Ke3 Ke5 53.g3 d2 54.Kxd2 Kd4 55.g4 hxg4 56.fxg4 Ke4 57.g5 Kf5 58.Kd3 Kg4 59.g6 (Even 59.Kc4 Kxh4 60.Kb5 wins, 60...Kxg5 61.Kxa5 Kf4 62.Kxb4 g5 63.Kc4! g4 (63...Ke3 64.a5 g4 65.a6 g3 66.a7 g2 67.a8Q g1Q 68.Da7+) 64.Kd3! Kf3 65.a5 g3 66.a6 g2 67.a7 g1D 68.a8D+ Kf4 69.Qe4+ and the queens are swapped off: 69...Kg5 70.Qe3+ etc.) 59...Kh5 (59...Kxh4 60.Kc4 Kg5 61.Kb5 Kxg6 62.Kxa5 Kf5 63.Kxb4 g5 64.Kc3 Kf4 65.Kd2 Kf3 66.Ke1 Kg2 67.a5) 60.Kc4 Kxg6 61.Kb5 Kh5 62.Kxa5 Kxh4 63.Kxb4 g5 64.a5 g4 65.a6 g3 66.a7 g2 67.a8D g1D 68.Dh8+ Kg3 69.Dg7+ and wins.) 50.Kf2 h4! 51.Ke3 Kd6 52.Kxd3 Kxd5 53.f4 g6 54.Ke3 Ke6 55.Ke4 Kf6 56.Kf3 (56.Kd5 Kf5 57.Kc5 Ke4! (57...Kxf4?? 58.Kb5 Kg3 59.Kxa5 Kxg2 60.Kxb4 Kxh3 61.a5 g5 62.a6 g4 63.a7 g3 64.a8Q g2 65.Qf3+ Kh2 66.Qf2 Kh1 and now white has a check on h4, compare the following.) 58.Kb5 Kd4 59.Kxa5 Kc3 60.Kb6 Kxb3 61.a5 Kc4 62.a6 b3 63.a7 b2 64.a8Q b1Q+ 65.Kc7 Qf5 and the black king reaches e3 or otherwise black has a perpetual.) 56...Kf5 57.g4+ hxg3 58.Kxg3 Ke4 59.h4 Kd4 60.Kh3 Kc3 61.h5 gxh5 62.f5 Kxb3 63.f6 Ka2 64.f7 b3 65.f8Q b2 and now it's a draw because the white queen can't give a check on a4: 66.Qf2 Ka1 67.Qd4 Ka2 68.Qc4+ Ka1 69.Qc3 Ka2 70.Qc2 Ka1 and white can't make progress.
Both me and my engine are a bit outdated, so I hope I'm not making too obvious mistakes. If so, please correct me!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 8/20/2023 10:25
Thank you for your analysis of Roebers-Dronavalli! Although maybe the most interesting moment was a little earlier. In several places (and without much analysis), 46... Ke7 was given as the first instance that black could have given away the draw (after the excellent 42... Qd4!). Indeed, 46... h5! seems to be a draw, but it's hardly simple. The two main variations are 47.Kf2 and 47.g3.
47.g3 g5 48.Kf2 Kf7 49.Ke2 Kf6 50.Kd3 Ke5 51.h4!? gxh4 52.gxh4 Kf4 53.Kxd4 Kg3 54.Kd5 Kxh4 55.Kxd6 Kg3 56.c5 h4 57.c6 h3 58.c7 h2 59.c8Q h1Q This seems to be drawn. A cruciale variation might be: 60.Qg4+ Kf2 61.Qd4+ Kg3 62.Qe5+ Kf2 63.Qc5+ (63.Qxa5 Qh6+ 64.Kc7 Qg7+ 65.Kb6 Qg6+!) 63...Kg3 64.Qxa5 Qh6+! (We're getting into the reach of tablebases after 64...Qxf3? and now 65.Qd5 is winning (or 65.Qe5+ ; 65.Qg5+) 65.Kc7 (an ultimate try, 65.Kc5 Qg5+ 66.Kxb4 Qd2+ 67.Kb5 Qd5+ 68.Ka6 Qa8+ 69.Kb6 Qd8+ with perpetual) 65...Qg7+! (65...Qh7+? is losing now, 66.Kb6 Qg6+ 67.Kb7 Qf7+ 68.Qc7+) 66.Kb6 Qf6+! 67.Kb5 Qe5+ 68.Ka6 Qe6+ 69.Qb6 Qxb3 70.Ka5 Kxf3 71.Qxb4 and this is a draw as well, although white can keep on trying.