Major Piece Endings 


Karsten Müller


    12/03/2008 20:28  


The third DVD in this instructional series by Karsten Müller deals with queen endings, rook v knight, rook v bishop and queen v one or two rooks.  These are perhaps the most difficult of all endings and require an expert such as Muller to distil the vast amount of material available into concise and understandable formulae and this he does with his usual aplomb and enthusiasm in the course of more than seven hours of video presentation and 87 well chosen examples.  Once more he aims to present material that has practical application.

A theme that runs through all these endings is the need for the stronger side to dominate play until such supremacy can be converted into an overwhelming material or positional advantage. Perhaps the best illustration of this theme occurs in analysis to a game Pakieska - Bartel, Yugoslavia, 2004 where the position opposite occurs.  Clearly the knight has very few moves left, and Black loses after 1.....Kf3 2.Rd8 Nh7 3.Rh8 and the knight can be returned to the box.  This example also demonstrates another strength of the examples chosen in that predominantly they are taken from actual games.  Here there is scope to examine mistakes and potential mistakes and consequently place emphasis on the need for accuracy and understanding. 

As in his previous DVD - "Rook Endings" -Müller does not halt his analysis when the pieces have been removed from the board and just a pawn endgame is left.  He takes us through that ending to a conclusion and thus revises one's understanding of a pawn endings.  Following a remark from his previous DVD, he once more makes a statement concerning the infinite development of endgame understanding by citing a discovery made by John Nunn, and published in the "New in Chess" magazine No. 6 of 2005, of an ending of queen, g-pawn and h-pawn versus queen with the defender's king in front of the pawns, to the effect that the game is generally drawn   This discovery was made with the aid of six-man endgame databases but still needs some further research to ascertain whether such an ending can be resolved within the constriction of the 50-move rule.  

The following table provides a listing of the contents of the DVD:- 


Number of Lectures Video Time-Minutes Examples examined



Queen Endings

Queen v Pawn(s)

1 24   5

Queen v Queen (no Pawns)

1   7   2

Queen & Rook Pawn v Queen

4 52 12

Queen & Knight Pawn v Queen

6   9   1

Queen & Bishop Pawn v Queen

1   6   1

Queen & Central Pawn v Queen

1   4   1

Queen + g & h-pawn v Queen

1   4   1

Perpetual check

1   7   5

Mating Motifs

1   5   1

Far Advanced Passed Pawn

1   6   3

Further examples

1   7   2

Rook v Knight


Rook v Knight (no Pawns)

2 16   2

Fortresses/Breaking fortresses

4 31 10

Advantage for the Rook

1   2   1

Advantage for the Knight

1   7   1

Rook v Bishop


Rook v Bishop (no Pawns)

2 10   2

Rook & Rooks Pawns v Bishop

1 12   1

Rook & Bishop's Pawn v Bishop

1   5   1

Colour Complexes

1   7   1

Pawns on One Wing

7 61   9

Pawns on Both Wings

2 17   3

Queen v Rook


No Pawns - Philidor Position

1   6   1

No Pawns - 2nd Rank Defence

1   4   1

No Pawns - 3rd Rank Defence

1   7   1

Fortresses/Breaking Fortresses


56 10

Queen v 2 Rooks


Advantage for the Rooks

5 32   5

Advantage for the queen

4 17   4



7 hours 6 minutes


Seven hours of video presentation and 87 examples, give some indication of the depth and care taken to provide adequate coverage of these rather complicated endings.  It is not only the quantity of data provided that is impressive, the status of the presenter as one of the foremost experts on endgame play and as a lecturer, are assurance of the quality of the contents.  

Emphasis is placed on methods, principles and themes rather than voluminous analysis and this is enhanced by some rules that clarify objectives, as for example the safe zone of the weaker king in an ending of queen and pawn against queen, illustrated in the diagram opposite. 

This is a position taken from the game Edward Lasker - Frank Marshall played in the 1923 match for the Championship of the U.S. and is a particularly instructive example of this ending.   

Also of interest for the practical player are the structure of various fortresses that can be established by the weaker side to defend the position and the reasons why these positions cannot be breached.

In the modern age when "sudden death" finishes abound, it is often said that study of the endgame is no longer of such great import as hitherto, because of the time restraint and consequently the standard of endgame play will suffer.  This need not be the case, because if a player is well versed in the type of material that is put forward in this series, he starts the endgame fully armed and is more likely to succeed than the player who thinks that there is little space for endgame play under such formats.

In a previous review of "Rook Endings" we commented on Karsten's enthusiasm boiling over on a few rare occasions.  Here, he makes a considered effort to curb his exuberance and on the one occasion when his guard is down, he admonishes himself in a rather amusing manner.  His expert use of the ChessBase media system enhances the impact of his lectures and at times make a point that would take considerable time and imagination to explain. 

The next DVD in this series will deal with double rook endings and I suspect this may not be the last as there are still some nooks and crannies of endgames that could well do with an expert airing.

This is a "stand-alone" DVD as it includes a programme that will set up the Chess Reader on your computer, complete with the FritzTrainer media system. 

Practicing club, county and congress players will find that study of the contents of this DVD will greatly benefit their game and is a very good investment that is reasonably priced at £21.50.


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