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Understanding Queen Endgames

Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
From the publisher:

The Daunting Domain of Queen Endgames Explained! Knowing the abilities and limitations of the powerful queen is very valuable for mastering the secrets of the royal game, and this can be studied best in the endgame.

Queen endgames are very difficult, if only for purely mathematical reasons  the queen is the most mobile piece in chess, and the amount of possible options is incomparably higher than in any other type of endgames.

This book follows a dual philosophy as in the three previous works by the same authors: Understanding Rook Endgames, Understanding Minor Piece Endgames and Understanding Rook vs. Minor Piece Endgames. The 7-piece endings are dealt with in great detail. They are often so complex that pre-tablebase analysis almost always contains errors. Many new discoveries are revealed here. But to really understand the fight of a queen against a queen or minor pieces with rooks, these theoretical positions are of course not enough. So subchapters on the principles of each material configuration have been added.

All in all, this fantastic book is already on my (very short) “must study” list for chessplayers of different levels, including the top ten! I want to thank the authors for the courage which is required just to start working on such a complex topic, as well as for the very high quality of their work, which will endure for decades to come and will be very useful for many future generations of chessplayers. The foreword is by Vladimir Kramnik,14th World Chess Champion”

This titanic technical endgame tome is a  Magnum Opus with a forward by former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. The complexity of queen endings is obvious as the queen is the most mobile piece and the number of  variations becomes vast after only a few ply. This is probably the reason that this is the first work to cover queen endings in great depth. The complexity of these endgames is shown by a famous game from Vladimir Kramnik’s World Championship match versus Peter Leko in 2004. The first game of that match reached this position:

Leko-Kramnik World Championship 2014(1) Move 44 White to move
Leko-Kramnik World Championship 2014(1) Move 44 White to move

White played 44.Qf4??  which loses as demonstrated by Kramnik in the game and is covered in this book 44…g5! 45.Qf6 h6! winning, the point being that 46.Qxh6 loses the queen to 46…R8a6! After 45…h6 White cannot prevent Black from manoeuvring his rooks to win the kingside pawns. The natural move is 44.hxg6 exchanging pawns to reduce material which was thought, at the time, to draw. In fact Black stills retains winning chances. As the position has eight men the result is still not known definitively – this shows the richness of such endgames.

This publication also covers endgames that have had little coverage in the past such as Two Rooks + Pawn  v Queen.

Most first quick skim of the book did concern me slightly as I noticed some diagrams followed by 100+ moves with no annotations. On a deeper perusal, I realised that these examples are included as “longest wins” for certain material combinations. This emulates John Nunn’s longest wins in “Secrets of Pawnless Endings”. There is plenty of well annotated material within  practical games to bring out key ideas, for example the techniques to break down fortresses are examined in detail.

The book has ten main chapters traditionally based on piece configuration:

  • Chapter 1 Queen vs. Pawn
  • Chapter 2 Queen vs. Queen
  • Chapter 3 Queen vs. Rook
  • Chapter 4 Queen vs. Rook and Knight
  • Chapter 5 Queen vs. Rook and Bishop
  • Chapter 6 Queen vs. Two Rooks
  • Chapter 7 Queen vs. Rook and Two Minor Pieces
  • Chapter 8 Queen and Minor Piece vs. Queen (and Minor Piece)
  • Chapter 9 Queen and Rook vs. Queen and Rook
  • Chapter 10 Queen vs. Minor Pieces

Each chapter ends with some fruitful exercises to check if you were paying attention. The solutions are given near the end of the book.

Chapter 1 Queen vs. Pawn

This chapter obviously concentrates on the cases where the pawn is on the seventh rank. Here is the end of a Troitzky study:

Troitzky 1935 (end of study) White to draw
Troitzky 1935 (end of study) White to draw

1.Ke6!! and whichever way Black’s king goes, White moves into his shadow drawing: 1…Kf4+ 2.Kf7! draws or 1…Kd4+ 2.Kd7 draws

This next position looks arcane but the reviewer has has this position twice in blitz, once as the attacking side and once as the defending side: in both cases the defence was accurate to hold the draw.

Q v P (king outside winning zone) White to move
Q v P (king outside winning zone) White to move

White cannot win despite the proximity of his king. White can try 1.Qd5+ 1…Ke1!! is the only move to draw, 1…Ke2 loses to 2.Qa2! Kd1 3.Kd4! c1Q 4.Kd3 mating. White can also try 1.Qa2 Kc3!! is the only move to draw, 1…Kd1 2.Kd4! c1=Q 3.Kd3 mating.

This chapter goes on to cover many types of position with far advanced pawns against a queen.

Chapter 2 Queen versus Queen

Naturally the authors start with the notoriously difficult ending Queen and Pawn vs. Queen: their comment is “This can be very deep and tricky if the defending king can’t get in front of the pawn.”  Certainly an understatement as many strong GMs have gone down in drawn endings.  A whole volume could be dedicated to this fascinating endgame.

The authors systematically cover the rook’s pawn, knight’s pawn, bishop’s pawn and centre pawns. Some useful general rules are given for each pawn:

“Rook Pawn – In this case, the drawing zone for the defending king is usually quite large when the pawn is not far advanced, as the rook pawn does not provide good shelter. But the zone gets smaller as the pawn advances, and the main drawing zone is in the corner farthest from the queening square.”

A didactic example from Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 is given:

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 59 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 59 Black to play

Black’s king is badly placed restricting his own queen, so he should run to the a1-corner as fast as he can. 59…Kc5!? 60.h5 Qe8+ 61.Kh6 Kd5?! 61…Kb4 going closer to the drawing zone is more logical 62.Kg5 Qg8+ 63.Kf4 Qb8+ 64.Kg4

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 64 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 64 Black to play

64…Qb4+! An excellent move preserving the draw., 64…Qa7? loses to 65.Qf4!! cutting the Black king off from the a1-drawing zone and winning in the long run. It looks as though Black’s king might get near the pawn, but that is an illusion: he just restricts his own queen’s movements. 65.Kg5 Qd2+ 66.Kg6 Kc4 67.h6 Qg2+ 68.Kf7 Qb7+ 69.Kg8 Qb8+ 70.Qf8 Qg3+ 71.Kh8 Qe5+ 72.Qg7 Qe4 73.h7

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 73 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 73 Black to play

This a typical position from this ending, white has pushed the pawn to the seventh rank with his king hiding in the corner in front of the pawn. This is a tablebase draw but this has been known for many decades before the advent of tablebases.

73…Kd3?? loses, a bad mistake from a 2700 GM. 73…Kb3! draws but accuracy is still required. 74.Qf7+ (74.Kg8 Qe8+ 75. Qf8 Qg6+ 76.Kh8 Kc2=) 74…Kb2

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 75 White to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 75 White to play

This is the type of position that Black is aiming for. The authors explain why it is drawn with a pithy comment: “and White can’t win as the king must move too far from the pawn to move into a countercheck position.” For example: 75.Kg7 Qg4+ 76.Qg6 Qd7+ 77.Kh6 Qd2+ 78.Qg5 Qd6+ 79.Kh5

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 79 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 79 Black to play

Another excellent explanation from the authors: “White’s king wants to go to h1 or h2 to make counterchecks possible, but the pieces are then too far apart” (and un-coordinated) e.g. 79…Qd1+ 80.Qg4 Qh1+ 81.Kg6 Qc6+ 82.Kg5 Qd5+ 83.Qf5 Qg2+ 84.Kh4

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play

84…Qh2+ 85.Qh3 Qf4+ 86.Kh5 Qe5+ 87.Kg6 Qd6+ 88.Kf7 Qf4+ drawn

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 89 White to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Variation 1 Move 89 White to play

Black to the game after 73…Kd3??

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 74 White to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 74 White to play

74.Qd7+ Ke2?! (74…Kc2 lasts longer but does not save the game anymore: buy the book to find out how White wins) 75.Kg8 White is going to shuffle his king along to the adjacent file to Black’s king to setup a crosscheck: 75…Qg6+ 76.Kf8 Qh6+ 77.Qg7 Qf4+ 78.Qf7

Carlsen-Gashimov Move 78 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Move 78 Black to play

78…Qh6+ Notice how Black’s choice of checks are severely restricted because of his king’s placement 79.Ke7 Qh4+ 80.Ke8 Qa4+ 81.Kf8! Now we can see again why Black’s king is badly placed: Black has no good checks.

Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 81 Black to play
Carlsen-Gashimov Monaco 2011 Move 81 Black to play

81…Qd4 82.Qh5+ Kf2 83.h8Q Qd6+ 84.Kf7 Qd7+ 85.Kg6 1-0

A very important ending to study and learn from a World Champion.

Muller & Konoval give an example of good defence with the king in the drawing zone where the defending side does not let the draw slip at any point:

Markowski-Piket Istanbul 2000 Move 57 White to play
Markowski – Piket Istanbul 2000 Move 57 White to play

Piket played 57.Qe8+ and drew: buy the book to see the excellent defensive effort.

Here is an old game where modern tablebases really show how difficult these endgames are:

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 80 White to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 80 White to play

White played 80.Qc1? The amazing 80.Qh1!! is the only move to draw, for example 80…Qd7 81.Qf3+ Ke8 82.Qa8+ Ke7 83.Qh8! Qd6+ 84.Ka7!

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Variation 1 Move 84 Black to play

Drawing, a beautiful geometric display of the queen’s power with the white queen moving around all the corners in a few moves. 80…Qe5! 81. Qb1

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 81 Black to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 81 Black to play

81…Qf6+? (A mistake improving White’s king for free particularly as White’s checks are restricted because of potential cross checks, the natural 81…h2! wins, e.g.: 82.Qb7+ Kf6 83.Qf3+ Ke7 84.Qb7+ Kd8 85.Qa8+ Kd7 86.Qb7+? Qc7 and white has no good check, so he loses) 82.Ka7!  and white drew with excellent defence 82…Kg7 83.Qg1+ Kh7 84.Qe3 Qa1+ 85.Kb8 Qb2+ 86.Ka7 Qg2 87.Qd3+ 87…Kh8 Although White’s king is in the drawing zone, Black’s king is on a neighbouring rank making counterchecks possible, so white played 88.Ka6! (88.Qe3 also draws)

Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 88 White to play
Ed. Lasker-Marshall USA 1923 Move 88 White to play

88…h2 89.Qd8+ Kh7 90.Qc7+! Staying on the h2-pawn so Black cannot interpose the queen, and White drew 14 moves later by repetition.

If the defending king can get in front or very near the pawn, it should do so:

Bakutin-Novitzkij Tula 2000 Move 63 White to play
Bakutin – Novitzkij Tula 2000 Move 63 White to play

63.Kd3! h5 64.Ke2! now the draw is easy as white does not fear a queen exchange.

Sometimes the defending king has to keep both options open: here is a brilliant example:

Dominguez Perez - Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 60 Black to move
Dominguez Perez – Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 60 Black to move

Black looks to be in trouble as his king is a long way from the drawing zone and will interfere with his queen. However Nakamura found 60…Ke5!! 61.Kg7 Qc6! Keeping Black’s options open 62.h6

After 62.Qg6 Qb7+ 63.Kh8 Qa8+ 64.Qg8 Qc6 65.Qg5+ Black changes plans and runs to the drawing zone as White’s king is badly placed in front of the pawn, he just has time to do this 65…Kd4!! 66.Qg7+ Kc4 67.h6 Kb3 68.h7 Ka2=

Dominguez Perez - Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Variation Move 69 White to move
Dominguez Perez – Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Variation Move 69 White to move

62… Qg2+ 63.Qg6 Qb7+ 64.Qf7 Qg2+ 65.Kh8 Qa8+ 66.Qg8 Qf3

Dominguez Perez - Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 67 White to move
Dominguez Perez – Nakamura Thessaloniki 2013 Move 67 White to move

67.Qg6 (67.h7 Qh5 68.Qg7+ Ke6! draws as Black’s king cramps White’s pieces.) 67…Qf8+ 68.Kh7 Qf3 69.Qg7+ Ke6 70.Kg8  Qh5 71.h7 Qe8+ 72.Qf8 Qg6+ 73.Kh8 Qf7 drawn

Knight Pawn – “With a knight pawn, play is similar to a rook pawn, but the winning chances are better as the pawn provides  better shelter. There is still a drawing zone in the far corner.”

The play is complex and there are many subtleties with slight differences being crucial as we shall see below.

Here is a superb example of drawing technique from Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009:

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 63 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 63 Black to move

Where does Black put his king? 63…Kf1! (63…Kd2? loses in 91 moves as the king is cut off from the drawing zone!) 64.b5 Qc7+ 65.Kd5 Qb7+ 66.Qc6 Qf7+ 67.Kd6 Qf4+ 68.Kd7 Qf7+ 69.Kc8 Qf8+ 70.Kb7 Qe7+ 71.Qc7 Qe4+ 72.Ka6 Qa4+ 73.Qa5 Qc4 74.Qa1+ Kg2

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 75 White to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 75 White to move

Black’s king has reached the drawing zone. It is still very easy to go wrong.

75.Qb2+ Kh1 76.Qh8+ Kg1 77.Qg7+ Kh1 78.Qb7+ Kh2 79.Qc6 Qa2+ 80.Kb7 Kg1 81.Qc1+ Kf2 82.Qc5+ Kf1 83.b6  Postny comments :The pawn has reached the 6th rank already, although it is still a draw theoretically. For the defensive side it’s very easy to go astray, but, somehow I managed to give the right checks. 83…Qg2+ 84.Ka6 Qa8+ 85.Kb5 A crucial position, Black’s king is temporarily out of the drawing zone and cannot go back immediately.

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 85 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 85 Black to move

85…Qe8+!  The only move to draw 86.Ka5 Qe1+ 87.Ka6 Qa1+ 88.Qa5

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 88 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 88 Black to move

88…Qf6! 89.Qb5+ Kg1 90.Qc5+ Kh1 91.Ka7 Qa1+ 92.Kb7 Qg7+ 93.Qc7 Qf8 94.Qd7 Qf2 95.Qd5+ Kg1 96.Qg5+ Kh1 97.Kc6 Qc2+ 98.Kd6 Qh2+ 99.Qe5 Qh6+ 100.Kc5 Qc1+ 101.Kd5 Qd2+ 102.Qd4 Qg5+ 103.Kc4 Qc1+ 104.Qc3 Qf1+ 105.Kb4 Qb1+ 106.Qb3 Qe1+ 107.Kb5 Qe5+ 108.Ka6 Qa1+ 109.Kb7 Qg7+ 110.Kc6 Qf6+ 111.Kc5 Qe7+ 112.Kd4 Qf6+ 113.Kd3 Qf5+ 114.Kc3 Qe5+ 115.Kb4 Qe1+ 116.Qc3 Qb1+ 117.Ka5 Qa2+ 118.Kb5 Qd5+ 119.Qc5 Qd3+ 120.Kc6 Qg6+ 121.Kb7 Qf7+ 122.Ka6 Qa2+ 123.Qa5 Qe2+ 124.Ka7 Qf2 125.Qd5+ Kg1 126.Kb7 Qf8 127.Qd4+ Kh1 128.Qe4+ Kg1 129.Qe3+

Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 129 Black to move
Negi-Postny Helsingor 2009 Move 129 Black to move

Postny comments again: For a moment I thought that I was losing. The queen covered the a3 square, and Kb7-a7 followed by the pawn advance just one move before the fifty move rule seems inevitable. But… 129…Kh1! 130.Ka7 Qf2!! This stalemate trick saves the game. 131.Qe4+ Kg1 132.Kb7 Qf7+ 133.Kc6 Draw due to the fifty move rule. ½-½

The next example shows how difficult this ending really is:

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 77 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 77 Black to play

Black’s king is not yet in the drawing zone. Black played the obvious check 77…Qe7+? which loses 77…Qe3! (77..Qc5? loses to 78.Qd3!) does draw, e.g. 78.Ka8 Kh3 79.b7 Qe4 80.Ka7 Qd4+ 81.Qb6 Qa1+ 82.Qa6 Qd4+ 83.Ka8 Qe4

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation Move 84 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation Move 84 White to play

This is drawn despite Black’s king not being in the drawing zone but it is close enough! 84.Qa2!? cutting the Black king off from the drawing zone (by analogy with the line below) does not win here.

Back to the game 78.b7 Qe3+ 79.Ka8 Qe4

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 80 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 80 White to play

80.Qb5? 80.Qa3!! cutting the king off from the drawing zone wins, followed by moving White’s king down to the same rank as Black’s king which is similar to the line below 80…Qf3? (80…Kg3! draws) 81.Qb4+ Kh3 82.Qc5?! Qe4

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 83 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 83 White to play

83.Qc3+? Sloppy, improving Black’s king for free and the queen is much better placed on c5; it was time to move the White king down to the rank that Black’s king is on: 83.Ka7! wins, e.g. 83…Qa4+ 84.Kb6 Qb3+ 85.Ka6 Qa4+ 86.Qa5 Qc4+ 87.Qb5 Qe6+ 88.Ka5 Qa2+ 89.Kb6 Qf2+ 90.Qc5 Qb2+ 91.Ka6 Qe2+ 92.Ka5 Qa2+ 93.Kb5 Qe2+ 94.Qc4 Qb2+ 95.Qb4 Qe5+ 96.Ka4 Qe8+ 97.Ka3

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 97 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 97 Black to play

97…Qb8 98.Kb3 Kh2 99.Kb2 Qe5+ 100.Kb1 Qf5+ 101.Ka1 wins

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 102 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 1 Move 102 Black to play

Very instructive. This is a typical winning manoeuvre in queen and pawn vs queen.

Back to the game after 83.Qc3+? Kg2

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 84 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 84 White to play

84.Ka7 Qe7 85.Kb6 Qd8+ 86.Qc7 Qd4+ 87.Qc5 Qb2+ 88.Kc7 Qg7+ 89.Kc6

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 89 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 89 Black to play

A key position and a common problem for the defending side, which check should I make? Black choose the wrong check and lost. 89…Qg6+? The authors offer some general advice here: “As Black’s king is on a light square, it was better to operate on dark squares”: 89…Qf6+! Drawing 90.Qd6 Qc3+ 91.Kd7 Qg7+ 92.Qe7 Qd4+ 93.Ke8 White is trying to bring his king across to the same file as Black’s king.  Qh8+ 94.Qf8 Qe5+

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 2 Move 95 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 2 Move 95 White to play

95.Kf7 loses the pawn to a fork 95…Qd5+ drawing instantly

Back to the game, after 89…Qg6+? 90.Qd6 Qe8+?!

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 91 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 91 White to play

91.Qd7?! (91. Kb6! Qe3+ 92. Kc7 Qa7 Kc8 wins quickly, now we see why Black’s queen should operate on the dark squares) 91…Qg6+

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 92 White to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 92 White to play

92. Kd5? White could have centralised the queen and effected a memorable manoeuvre to win 92.Qd6! Qc2+ 93.Kd7 Qh7+ 94.Qe7 Qd3+ 95.Ke8 Qg6+ 96. Kf8 Qf5+ 97.Kg8 Qd5+ 98.Kh8 Qh5+ 99.Qh7 winning

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 3 Move 99 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Variation 3 Move 99 Black to play

Notice that this winning motif is effectively the same idea as the king manoeuvre down the a-file and b-files rotated ninety degrees!

In the game: 92…Qd3+ 93.Ke6 Qg6+ 94.Ke5 Qg5+ 95.Ke4 Qg6+! 96.Ke5 Qg5+ 97.Kd6

Oddone - Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 97 Black to play
Oddone – Espinoza Asuncion 2009 Move 97 Black to play

97…Qf6+? The final mistake allowing White to improve his queen. 97…Qf4+ 98.Kc6 Qa4+ 99.Kc7 Qa5+ 100.Kc8 Qc5+ draws 98.Qe6! 98…Qd8+?! 99.Kc6 Qh8 100.Qa2+ Kf1 101.Qb1+ and queens the pawn, White won 4 moves later.

Here is a pretty study showing  a neat idea:

Van Vliet 1888
Van Vliet 1888

How does White break the pin to get his pawn home?

1.Qb4! mutual zugzwang 1…Qh1 (1…Qd5 2.Qa4+ Kb6 3.Qb3+ Qxb3 4.b8Q+ wins; 1…Qf3 2.Qa4+ Kb6 3.Qb3+ wins; 1…Qg2 2.Qa3+Kb5 3.Qb2+ wins) 2.Qa3+ Kb6 3.Qb2+ Ka6 4.Qa2+ Kb5 5.Qb1+ Qxb1 6.b8Q+ skewering the queen

Amazingly this idea occurred in a game and White  missed the neat win, but won anyway.

Bishop Pawn

This is completely different. If the defending king can’t get in front of the pawn or at least very near the pawn, the attacker usually wins as there is no drawing zone in the far corner. This is best pawn for the superior side.

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 65 White to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 65 White to play

White played 65.Qe5+? (A bad mistake from a 2500 player, 65.Qc3+ draws as Black’s queen is poorly placed.) 65…Qe4! Black gives up his h-pawn to centralise his queen and get his f-pawn going 66.Qxh5 f5 White has restored material equality but is now lost as the centralised Black queen is dominant and the f-pawn is much more dangerous than White’s a-pawn. 67.Qh3+ Kd2 68.Qh2+ Kc3 69.Kb5 f4 70.Qh8+ Kb3 71.Qf8 f3 72.Qf7+ Kxa3 Black has eliminated the a-pawn which wasn’t strictly necessary. The win is simple from here as Black’s queen is so well placed.

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 73 White to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 73 White to play

73.Qf8+ Kb2 74.Qf6+ Kc2 75.Ka6?! Accelerating the loss. When the kings are close to each other on files or ranks, the stronger side should always be on the look out for a sequence to exchange queens.

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 75 Black to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 75 Black to play

75…Qd5?! (Black could have exchanged queens with 75…Qd3+! 76.Kb7 Qb3+ 77.Ka8 Qa3+ 78.Kb7 Qb2+) 76,Qf4 Kd3 77.Qg3 Qc4+ 78.Ka7 Qc5+ 79.Ka8 Qd5+ 80.Ka7 Ke2 81.Qg4 Kd3 82.Qg3

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 82 Black to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 82 Black to play

82…Qd4+! 83.Ka6 Ke2 84.Qh3 f2 85.Qh5+ Ke1 86.Qa5+ Kd1 87.Qh5+ Kc2 88.Qe2+ Kc3

Matamoros Franco - Bologan 2005 Move 89 White to play
Matamoros Franco – Bologan 2005 Move 89 White to play

89.Kb7 Qg7+ 0-1 in view of 90.Kb8 Qf8+ 91.Kb7 Qf7+ 92.Kb6 f1Q

A central pawn

This is similar to the bishop’s pawn, but the winning chances are slightly less. There is no drawing zone for the defending king in the far corner:

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 68 Black to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 68 Black to move

There is no chance for a draw here with the central pawn as Black cannot be prevented from advancing the pawn to the queening square: it just requires patience, care and a lot of moves.

Black played 68…Qa1+ (the natural 68…Qf5 unpinning the pawn is better.)

Black played well, not letting the win slip at any point until this position at move 110:

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 110 Black to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 110 Black to move

Black played 110…Kf4?? which throws the win away as white has a brilliant draw utilising the fact that the pawn is unprotected by the queen and the star cross perpetual check. Better was 110…Qb3 protecting the pawn and preparing cover for the king on the queenside viz.: 111.Qh2+ Ke4 112.Qg2+ Kd3 113.Qg6+ Kd2 114.Qg5 Qc4 115.Ka8 Qd4 116.Kb7 Kc3 117.Qg3 Qd3 winning

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 118 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Variation 1 Move 118 White to move

The reviewer makes this observation:

Notice how Black’s king has migrated over to the file adjacent to White’s king ready to setup cross checks in a few moves. This cannot be prevented wherever White’s king is on the board with two exceptions:

  • The weaker side can draw if the defending king gets in front of the pawn
  • or reaches a small drawing zone on the short side of the pawn.

The only other drawing mechanism is to setup the star cross perpetual check or a variant of it which is shown below.

111.Qh2+! Reaching a very important position as White can draw

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 111 Black to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 111 Black to move

111…Kg4 112.Qg1+Kf4 113.Qh2+ Ke4

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 114 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 114 White to move

114.Qg2+??  [114.Qh1+!! Kd4 115.Qa1+  Kd3 116.Qd1+ Ke4 117.Qh1+ Ke5 118.Qh5+ Kf5 (118…Kd6 or Ke6 loses the pawn to 119.Qh6+) 119.Qh5+ drawing] 114…Kd4 115.Qb2+ Kd3 Black breaks the perpetual sequence and wins as White’s queen has lost her checking distance

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 116 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 116 White to move

116.Qb1+ Ke2 117.Qc2+ Kf3 118.Qc3 Kf2 (quicker is 118…Qd6) 119.Qf6+ Qf3 120.Qd4 Qf5 121.Qh4+ Kf3 122.Qh1+ Ke2 123.Qh2+ Qf2 124.Qh5+ Qf3

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 125 White to move
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 Move 125 White to move

125.Qh2+? (Centralising with 125.Qe5 was a tougher defence) 125…Kf1 126.Qc2 e2 127.Qc4 Kg2 128.Qg8+ Qg3 129.Qd5+Kg1

Miladinovic - Graf Ohrid 2001 End
Miladinovic – Graf Ohrid 2001 End

Exploiting White king position 0-1

The central pawn does have a small drawing zone for the defending side which is on the short side of the pawn:

Karjakin - Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Move 91 White to move
Karjakin – Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Move 91 White to move

This is a theoretical draw as White’s king restricts Black’s king manoeuvres, but White must defend perfectly:

91.Kb3? losing as White’s king can be kicked out of the drawing zone. 91,Qc4 holds for example 91…Qb6+ 92.Ka2 Qa5+ 93.Kb2 Qe5+ 94.Kb1 Qa1+ 95.Kb2 Qe3 96.Qc1+ Ke2 97.Qc4=

Karjakin - Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Variation Move 97 Black to move
Karjakin – Mamedyarov Beijing 2013 Variation Move 97 Black to move

White’s king covers the queenside and the White queen can hassle Black on the kingside. If Black’s king strays too far on the kingside, Black cannot block a queen check as White will simply exchange queens drawing owing to the proximity of his king to the pawn.

The game continued 91…Qb6+ 92.Kc4 Qa6+  (92…Qc7+ is better 93.Kb3 Qc3+ 94.Ka2 Qa5+ 95.Kb2 Qb5+ 96.Ka3 Kc3 wins) 93.Kb3?! Qb5+ 94.Ka2 Kc3 95.Qe1+ Kc2 0-1 (96.Qf2 d2)

The book covers numerous positions with more pawns.

Here is a celebrated game Kasparov v The World Internet 1999.

Kasparov - The World Internet 1999 Move 51 Black to play
Kasparov – The World Internet 1999 Move 51 Black to play

Although Black is a pawn up, White is playing for the win as his g-pawn is the most advanced pawn. The seven piece tablebase confirms this position is a draw but Black is on the edge of losing and most defend perfectly. The game continued 51…b5?! (51,,,Ka1! holds) 52.Kf6+ Kb2? (The final mistake 52…Ka1 was necessary) 53.Qh2+ Ka1 54.Qf4! b4 55.Qxb4 Black is lost as the d-pawn is a hindrance as it obstructs Black’s queen and offers cover to White’s king. Without the d-pawn the position is drawn as show earlier in this review.

Kasparov - The World Internet 1999 Move 54 Black to play
Kasparov – The World Internet 1999 Move 54 Black to play

The ROW did not last much longer and resigned on move 62.

Chapter 3 Queen v Rook

The basic Queen v Rook endgame is covered sufficiently. The authors show how to break the third rank defence:

Queen v Rook Third Rank Defence
Queen v Rook Third Rank Defence

The authors observe: “The third rank defence is very difficult to break down if you do not know how, because it requires at least one counter-intuitive move to achieve that. John Nunn suggests the following method:”

1.Qf4! (1.Qg7 does not make progress because of 1…Ke8 2.Qc7 Rh6 3.Ke5 Rg6 and the starting position has been mirrored) 1…Kd7 2.Qa4+! Kc7 3.Qa7+ Forcing Black into the third rank defence 3…Rb7 4.Qc5+ Kb8 5.Kd6 Rg7 6.Qb4+ Rb7 7.Qe4 Rb6+ 8.Kc5 Ka7 9.Qd4 Rb7 10.Kc6+ Ka8 11.Qd5 Kb8 12.Qa5 and Philidor’s position is reached.

The book covers a multitude of Queen vs Rook + Pawn(s) positions where there are many fortresses  worth knowing and even in the situations where the queen wins, many wins are quite long and complicated. Here is an example of a simple draw.

Queen v Rook+P Fortress
Queen v Rook+P Fortress

Here White can simply move his rook back and forth between two safe squares e3 & g3.

An additional pawn for Black on g4  makes no difference viz:

Queen v Rook+P Fortress 2
Queen v Rook+P Fortress 2

This is clearly drawn as well. However, make a subtle change to the position and place White’s king on e2, then the queen wins:

Agopov - Norri Finland 2012 Move 89 White to move
Agopov – Norri Finland 2012 Move 89 White to move

White played the incomprehensible 89.g6? allowing the simple 89…Rxg6 drawing 89.Qh1! wins as follows: 89…Rg6 90.Qa8 Re6 91.Qa3+ Ke8 92.Kg4 Rg6 93.Kh5 Re6 94.Qb4 zugzwang

Agopov - Norri Finland 2012 Move 94 Black to move
Agopov – Norri Finland 2012 Move 94 Black to move

Black has no good move. One key point is 94…Rg6 95.Qe4+ Kf8 (95…Re6 96.Qxe6 fxe6 97.Kh6 winning) 96.Qxg6 winning

With a further advanced bishop’s pawn, it is no longer a fortress as the attacking king can encircle the weaker side’s position:

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress

The winning process falls into three phases and zugzwang is the main weapon to achieve these steps:

  1. First the king has to cross the e-file

1.Kf2 Qc7 2.Kg2 Qc2+ 3.Kg1 (3.Kg3 Qd2 4.Rg4 Ke5 5.Re4+ Kd5 and the first phase is complete) 3…Qd2 4.Kf1 Qh2 5.Re2Qg3 6.Rg2 Qh3 7.Kf2 Ke5 8.Rg4 Kd5

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 9 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 9 White to move

2. Next the Black king crosses the fourth rank:

9.Ke2 Qh6 10.Kf2 Qd2+ 11.Kf1 Qe3 12.Kg2 Qe2+ 13.Kg3 Qf1! 14.Re4 Qg1+ 15.Kf4 Qf2! 16.Kg4 Qg2+ 17.Kf4 Qg1!

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 18 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 18 White to move

White is in zugzwang again and most give way. There are two main defences 18.Re5+ and 18.Ra4.

After 18.Re5+ Kd4 19.Re4+ Kd3 The king’s next target is f2 to gobble the pawn 20.Re8 Qd4+ 21.Re4 Qg7!

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 22 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 22 White to move

22.Re3+ Kd3 23.Re4 Qg6!

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 24 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 24 White to move

Next the final phase: Black’s king crosses the e-file to win the pawn.

24.Re5 Qf6+ 25.Rf5 Qd4+ 26.Kg5 Qg7+ 27.Kf4 Ke2 28.Ke4 Kf2 29.f4 Qe7+ 30.Re5 Qb4+ 31.Kf5 Kf3 and the pawn falls

Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 32 White to move
Queen v Rook + Pawn Breaking the Fortress Move 32 White to move

After 18.Ra4, they are two winning methods, Magnus Carlsen shows one of them here in a position with reversed colours:

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 64 White to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 64 White to play

White can win with 64.Kd3 which is quickest according to the tablebase but Carlsen’s method is just as good:

64.Kf4! Rd5 65.Kg4 zugzwang 65…Kc4  (65…Rd4+ 66.Kf5) 66.Qb6! Rd4+ (66…c5?! 67.Qe6 Kd4 Kf4 wins) 67.Kf5 c5 68.Qa5 Rd5+ 69.Ke6 

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 69 Black to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 69 Black to play

69…Rd4 70.Qa4+ Kc3 71.Qa3+ Kc4 72.Qa5 Rd3 73.Qa4+ Kc3 74.Qa3+ Kc4 75.Qc1+ Kb4 76.Qb2+ Kc4 77.Qc2+

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 77 Black to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 77 Black to play

77…Kd4 [77…Rc3 78.Qe4+ Kb3 79.Qb1+! (79.Kd6?? Kb2=) Kc4 80.Kd6 wins] 78.Kd6 c4 79.Qf2+ Re3 80.Qd2+ 1-0

Carlsen - Matlakov Move 80 Black to play
Carlsen – Matlakov Move 80 Black to play

because 80…Rd3 (80…Ke4 81.Qd5+ wins) 81.Qf4+ Kc3+ 82.Kc5 wins

Chapter 4 Queen versus Rook and Knight

Fortresses are an important topic here.

Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 37 Black to move
Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 37 Black to move

Here Black has a fortress. White’s obvious pawn lever is g4, so Black stops it with 37…h5! Can White exploit the g5 square? 38.Kh4 Kh6 39.Qb2 Kg6 40.Qc3 Ne4

Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 41 White to move
Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 41 White to move

41.Qc8 (41.Qf3 Nf6 42.Qg3+ Kh7 43.Qg5?? Ne4 44.Qxh5+ Kg7 45.g4 Rd8 46.gxf5 Rh8 wins for Black!) 41…Nf6 42.Qb8 R37 43.g4 hxg4 44.hxg4 fxg4 45.Qe5

Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 45 Black to move
Gelfand-Anand Moscow 2012 Move 45 Black to move

45…Ng8! 46.Qg5+ Kh7 47.Qxg4 f6 48.Qg2 Kh8 49.Qe4 Kg7 drawn

Techniques to destroy fortresses are examined:

Kasparov - Ivanchuk Frankfurt 1998 Move 69 White to move
Kasparov – Ivanchuk Frankfurt 1998 Move 69 White to move

Here the rook and knight have a temporary blockade of two passed pawns. A pawn sacrifice disrupts the coordination of Black’s pieces: 69.g5!?  Nxg5?! (69…Rg6 is tougher) 70.Qg4? (A rare mistake from the former World Champion 70.Qg3! breaks the blockade 70…Rg6 71.Qe5+ Kf7 72.d6 wins; 70…Kh6 71.Qh4+ Kg6 72.d6 wins) 70…Rg6 71.Kb4 Nf7 72,Qd4+ drawn

Here a blockade could have been broken by clever manoeuvring:

Brameyer - Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 52 Black to play
Brameyer – Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 52 Black to play

This looks desperate for white who looks to be close to zugzwang. Black continued 52…Kg4?  allowing White to escape

52…Qf5! 53,Kg2 Qg4+ 54.Kh2 Qg5 55.Rd3 Qg6 56.Ne2+ Ke4 57.Rh3 Qf6+ 58.Nc3+ Kd4 59.Ne2+ Kc4 60.Kg3 Qb2 61.Rh4+ Kc5 wins

Brameyer - Pitzl Dresden 2010 Variation Move 62 White to play
Brameyer – Pitzl Dresden 2010 Variation Move 62 White to play

53.Re3! Qd2 54.Rg3+! Kh4 55.Rf3 mutual zugzwang and white held on for a draw

Brameyer - Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 55 Black to play
Brameyer – Pitzl Dresden 2010 Move 55 Black to play

Queen vs Rook + Knight + Pawn

Beukema-Hausrath Dieren 2017 Move 110 White to move
Beukema – Hausrath Dieren 2017 Move 110 White to move

It is hard to believe that White can lose to here. White played 110.Qe2? which does lose and he lost quickly missing a draw when Black erred. (110.Qb7 holds along with 4 other moves) 110…Rf6+ does win for Black. Buy the book to find out how.

Chapter 5 Queen versus Rook and Bishop

Babula - Blatny Stare Mesto 1992 Move 69 Black to move
Babula – Blatny Stare Mesto 1992 Move 69 Black to move

It is hard to believe that White can win this position as the f7 square is covered by both rook and bishop and all Black’s pieces are safe and coordinated.  White failed to win this game in practice; he tried for 16 moves and gave up. However, White can force the pawn through or win a piece in 43 moves. This is a good example where computer generation of tablebases has really enhanced the understanding of the endgame and found  sophisticated winning manoeuvres in positions like these. The key piece in this type of position is the attacker’s king.

Chapter 6 Queen vs Two Rooks

The authors summarise this material imbalance thus “The rooks are slightly superior materially speaking, but this does not make them favourites automatically. It is very important, if they can get static control and their king can hide. The queen on the other hand often wants to start dynamics to overload the rooks and destroy their coordination and harmony.”

The ending of two Rooks + P v Q is covered in some depth, the theory of which is completely new to the reviewer and probably new to the reader.

The most important factor is whether the attacking king can find hiding places. This often depends on where the defending king is. It has some similarities with queen and pawn vs queen endings:

Vovk - Savchenko Move 90 White to play
Vovk – Savchenko Move 90 White to play

With a rook’s pawn, generally if White’s king is away from the action (near the pawn), the game is drawn, but it is not so easy to give a main drawing zone which was possible in the queen and rook’s pawn or knight’s pawn versus queen case, but d7 seems to be a a good square but it does not always draw.

Matters are very complex and the wins are often very long as this game shows:

90.Qg8? losing

90.Qd4+ holds 90…R5f4 91.Qd8+ Kg3 92.Qg5+ (92.Qg8+ loses in 117 moves) 92…Kf2 93.Qc5+ Re3+ 94.Kd7

Vovk - Savchenko Variation 1 Move 94 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Variation 1 Move 94 Black to play

The tablebases give this position as a draw after 94…h2 95.Qh5! Kg2 96.Qg5+ Rg3 97.Qxf4 h1Q 98.Qd2+ Kh3 99.Qh6+ with a perpetual

Vovk - Savchenko Variation 1 Move 98 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Variation 1 Move 98 Black to play

Back to the game: 90…h2 91. Qg2?! (91.Qh7+ is tougher losing in 92 moves) 91…Rf2 92.Qh1?! Kh3 93.Qa8?! Rf8 94.Qb7?!

Vovk - Savchenko Move 94 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Move 94 Black to play

94…R2f7?! (Black missed a quick win 94…Re2+ 95.Kd6 Rd8+ 96.Kc5 Rc2+ 97.Kb4 Rb2+ winning the queen) 95.Qb3+?! Rf3?! 96.Qb1 Re8+ 97.Kd7 Here White loses despite the king being on d7.

Vovk - Savchenko Move 97 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Move 97 Black to play

97…Ree3?  A natural move, throwing away the win, 97…Rh8! wins in 46 moves 98.Kd6? This was White’s last chance to draw: Black won on move 114  0-1

98.Qh7+ seizes the draw 98…Kg2 99.Qc2+ Rf2 100.Qc6+ Ref3 101.Qg6+ Rg3 102.Qc6+ Kg1 102.Qc1+ Rf1 103.Qc5+ drawing

Vovk - Savchenko Variation 2 Move 104 Black to play
Vovk – Savchenko Variation 2 Move 104 Black to play

As the reader can see, this endgame is very complex, even harder than queen + pawn v queen.

Here is example with the king hiding in front of the rook’s pawn in the corner:

Tiviakov - Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 108 Black to move
Tiviakov – Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 108 Black to move

Black played 108…Rb1+? throwing away the win which was to be had with 108…Kg1 in 125 moves! 109.Ka4 now White is holding and Tiviakov defends perfectly:

109… Rf1 110.Qe4 Kg1 111.Qe3+ Rgf2 112.Qg5+ Kh1 113.Qd5+ Rf3 114.Qc6 Kg2 115.Qc2+ R1f2 116.Qg6+

Tiviakov - Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 116 Black to move
Tiviakov – Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 116 Black to move

116…Rg3 117.Qe4+ Rff3 118.Qc2+ Kg1 119.Qd1+ Rf1 120.Qd4+ Kg2 121.Qe4+ Rff3 122.Qc2+ Kg1 123.Qd1+ Rf1 124.Qd4+ Rf2 125.Qd1+ Kg2 126.Qd5+

Tiviakov - Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 126 Black to move
Tiviakov – Van der Wiel Leiden 2011 Move 126 Black to move

126…Rgf3 127.Qg5+ (127.Qg8+ loses after 127…Kf1) Kf1 128.Qc1+ Ke2 129.Qc2+ Ke3 130.Qc3+ Ke4 131.Qc4+ Kf5 132.Qf7+ Ke5 133.Qc7+ Kd4 134.Qd6+ Kc3 135.Qa3+ Kc2 ½-½

The knight’s pawn is the best pawn for the attacker. The attacker wins, if reasonably well placed and coordinated and the king safe:

Van der Wiel - Winants Brussels 1987 Move 74 Black to move
Van der Wiel – Winants Brussels 1987 Move 74 Black to move

White won quickly in about 20 moves after 74…Qf4+ 75.Kg1 Qe3+ 76.Kh1

There is no safe place for the defender’s king with a knight’s pawn.

The bishop’s pawn is surprisingly different. Here a few draws exist. One occurs with the defending king on the long side in a good position:

Markowski - Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation Move 69 White to move
Markowski – Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation Move 69 White to move

This is a theoretical draw. White can try 69.R5d4+

Or 69.Ke5 Qg7+ 70.Ke6 Qh6+ 71.Kd7 Qg7+ 72.Kc6 Qf6+ 73.Rd6 Qf5 74.R2d5 Qc8+=

Markowski - Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 3 Move 75 White to move
Markowski – Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 3 Move 75 White to move

69…Ka5! (69…Kb3? loses in 107 moves) 70.Rd6 Kb4 71.Rb2+ Kc5 72.Rbb6 Qe2+ 73.Kf5 Qh5+ =

Markowski - Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 2 Move 74 White to move
Markowski – Gdanski Warsaw 2002 Variation 2 Move 74 White to move

White a knight’s pawn this setup does not draw because Black’s queen is too restricted on the short side:

2R+P v Q Instructive example
2R+P v Q Instructive example

1,R5e4+ Kb5 2.Re7 Qf6+ 3.Kg3 Qc3+ 4.R2e3 Qf6 5.R3e5+ Kb4 6.g5

2R+P v Q Instructive example move 6
2R+P v Q Instructive example move 6

6…Qf1 7.Kg4 Qd1+ 8.Re2 Kc3 9.Kh5 Qh1+ 10.Kg6 Qd5 11.R2e6 Qd3+ 12.Kg7 Qd4+ 13.Re5

2R+P v Q Instructive example move 13
2R+P v Q Instructive example move 13

13…Kc2 14.g6 Kd2 15.Kg8 Qd6 16.g7 Qb8+ 17.Kf7 Qb3+ 18.R5e6 Qf3+ 19.Rf6 Qd5+ 20.Ree6

2R+P v Q Instructive example move 20
2R+P v Q Instructive example move 20

20…Qb7+ 21.Kg8 Qh1 22.Rh6 Qa8+ 23.Kh7 Qa7 24.Kh8 Qa1 25.Ref6 winning

2R+P v Q Instructive example final
2R+P v Q Instructive example final

If the reader has played through this ending, it was remarkably simple to win.

With a central pawn, there is no fortress on the short side for the defending king:

2R+Central P v Q Instructive example
2R+Central P v Q Instructive example

This is winning after 1.Kd7 Qg7+ 2.e7

In general, the queen can draw when the defending king is well placed and the attacker cannot coordinate and safeguard the king. This can be very complicated and not easy to calculate:

Zwakala - De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 71 White to play
Zwakala – De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 71 White to play

White’s king is trapped on the edge but White can just hold: 71.Qb6+ Kf7 72.Kg4 R5f4+ 73.Kg5 Rf6 74.Qb1 Rg3+ 75.Kh4 Rg2 75.Kh4 Rg2

Zwakala - De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 76 White to play
Zwakala – De Abreu Boksburg 2018 Move 76 White to play

76.Qb3+ and lost quickly 76.Qh7+! draws 76…Kf8 77.Qh8+ Rg8 78.Qh5 e5 79.Kh3 Rg7 80.Qh4 Kf7 81.Qc4+ Re6 82.Qc7+ Re7 83.Qc4+ Kf6 84.Qc6+ Re6 85.Qf3+ =

Here is a game from the early Fischer. His opponent played 90..Kd6? and Fischer defended perfectly to draw.

Fischer - Matthai Montreal 1956 Move 90 Black to move
Fischer – Matthai Montreal 1956 Move 90 Black to move

Black could have hunted down the White king as follows: 90…Rc3 91.Kg4 Ra4+ 92.Kh5 Rc5+ 93.Kh6 Rh4+ 94.Kg6 Rg4+ 95.Kh6 Rgg5

Fischer - Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Move 96 White to move
Fischer – Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Move 96 White to move

96.Qa2 Ke8 97.Qa8+ Kf7 98.Qa2+ Rcd5

Fischer - Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Final
Fischer – Matthai Montreal 1956 Variation Final

After 99.Qf2+ Rgf5 winning as 100…Rh5+ follows

General case with more pawns

In general the rooks want static control and the queen dynamic. It is extremely important for the rooks to coordinate. Examples of positions where the two rooks are better are shown below.

The reviewer gives some typical positions with a quick assessment: buy the book to go through the analysis.

In this position below the rooks have full board control. White wins easily.

Hole - Thomassen Oslo 2011 Move 35 Black to move
Hole – Thomassen Oslo 2011 Move 35 Black to move

In the position below the rooks are coordinated and white’s weak isolated pawns are easy pickings for the rooks. Black won quickly.

Shirov - Anand Linares 1998 Move 41 Black to move
Shirov – Anand Linares 1998 Move 41 Black to move

In the next position, white has just played 43.Re1 threatening Ree7, Black has to weaken his pawns to prevent the immediate loss of the f7-pawn. This is enough for white to win.

Kramnik - Andreikin Tromso 2013 Move 43 Black to move
Kramnik – Andreikin Tromso 2013 Move 43 Black to move

The queen needs targets to start dynamic play. Good for the queen are weak pawns, an exposed king, uncoordinated rooks and of course dangerous friendly passed pawns.

Queen + two connected passed pawns usually beat two rooks. The defensive setup with the rooks doubled up against the more advanced pawn can be difficult to break down. The position below is winning but takes nearly 50 moves against best defence!

Murdiza - Rozentalis Cappelle-la-Grande 2004 Move 59 Black to move
Murdiza – Rozentalis Cappelle-la-Grande 2004 Move 59 Black to move

The position below is winning for the queen as the rooks are uncoordinated and the queen has a dangerous passed c-pawn.

McShane - Mamedov Astand 2019 Move 45 White to move
McShane – Mamedov Astana 2019 Move 45 White to move

In this position the passed pawn dominates the rooks but Black is still holding out. The key to winning this game is to open a second front on the queenside to widen the bridgehead for the queen. Hence 48.c4!

Shirov - Short Yerevan 1996 Move 48 White to move
Shirov – Short Yerevan 1996 Move 48 White to move

In the next position Black has a small material advantage with two connected passed pawns. The easiest way to win is to open a second front on the queenside and create fresh White pawn weaknesses, hence 35…a5!

Giri - Aronian Leuven 2018 Move 35 Black to move
Giri – Aronian Leuven 2018 Move 35 Black to move

In the next example, there is rough material equality but the queen is winning here as White’s rooks are uncoordinated, his king is exposed and he has lots of weak pawns.

Amanov - Adams Wheeling 2012 Move 30 White to move
Amanov – Adams Wheeling 2012 Move 30 White to move

Chapter 7 – Queen versus Rook and Two Minor Pieces

Surprisingly the author does not cover the  endgame with no pawns as R+B+N v Q is drawn but is difficult to hold.

The pieces seek static control. In the position below, Black is winning but needs squares for his pieces, hence 34…g5!? After 35.fxg5 Bxg5 Black is winning as White’s pawns are going to drop off in the long run.

Vitiugov - Lysyj Kazan 2014 Move 34 Black to move
Vitiugov – Lysyj Kazan 2014 Move 34 Black to move

In the next example, the position is static with the pieces controlling everything. The queen has no targets and White’s king is safe. White will slowly and surely improve his pieces and pick off Black’s pawns.

Grischuk - Topalov Linares 2010 Move 47 Black to move
Grischuk – Topalov Linares 2010 Move 47 Black to move

In the next example, the queen has passed pawns, but they are all separated and effectively isolated, so Black’s well coordinated pieces can just collect the apple harvest after 34…Rb4!

Caruana - Le St Louis 2017 Move 34 Black to move
Caruana – Le St Louis 2017 Move 34 Black to move

The queen loves dynamic play with an exposed enemy king.

A good example is below where queen and 3 pawns fight a rook and two bishops with an exposed king. After 24.Qe6 Black is struggling to coordinate and finish development. Black put up stiff resistance but the defensive task proved too much and White won.

Karpov - Speelman Reykjavik 1991 Move 24 White to move
Karpov – Speelman Reykjavik 1991 Move 24 White to move

In the next game, a queen and two connected passed pawns supported by the king face an uncoordinated rook, bishop and knight. The queen wins effortlessly.

Kramnik - Aronian Zurich 2012 Move 30 Black to move
Kramnik – Aronian Zurich 2012 Move 30 Black to move

Chapter 8 Queen an Minor Piece vs Queen (and Minor Piece)

This topic is covered well with sections on:

  • Queen + Knight v Queen
  • Queen + Knight + Pawns v Queen + Pawns
  • Queen + Bishop v queen
  • Queen + Bishop + Pawns v Queen + pawns
  • Queen + Knight endings
  • Queen + Bishop (same colour) endings
  • Queen + Bishop (opposite colour) endings
  • Queen + Knight v Queen + bishop endings

This is particularly good chapter.

Chapter 9 Queen  + Rook  v Queen + Rook

This piece combination is a really a mixture of middlegame and endgame themes. King safety is paramount. In this game White’s king is safe whereas Black’s king is looking potentially vulnerable.

Fischer - Benko 1959 Move 33 White to move
Fischer – Benko 1959 Move 33 White to move

Fischer played the incisive 33.a4!! to open up files for his rook. If 33…b4 34.Rh5!

There is another Fischer game below. White had to play 35.Rf3. However after 35.Qf8+? Kh5 Black’s king entered the fray with decisive effect. After 36.g4+ Kh4 37.Qxf6+ Kxh3 it was all over.

Blau - Fischer Varna 1962 Move 35 White to move
Blau – Fischer Varna 1962 Move 35 White to move

Chapter 10 Queen vs. Minor pieces

The interesting endgames of queen v 2 minor pieces with no pawns are covered.

The endgame of queen v two knights with pawns is covered showing typical winning methods:

  • Overloading the knights which can only defend a limited front
  • King invasion
  • Zugzwang

Some successful fortresses are also demonstrated.

The endgame of queen v two bishops with pawns is also covered. Positions with mutual passed pawns are shown demonstrating the power of the queen. Some fortresses are shown of course.

The endgame of queen v knight and bishop with pawns is also covered. Positions with fortresses are covered with methods of breaching them covered.

Queen versus three minor pieces is by far the most interesting endgame covered with this rough material equality.

In this sort of position where the pieces are uncoordinated, the queen wins:

Berkes - Indjic Valjevo 2018 Move 36 Black to move
Berkes – Indjic Valjevo 2018 Move 36 Black to move

If the pieces are coordinated and their king is safe, they have good winning chances.

Lautier - Gurevich Munich 1993 Move 53 White to move
Lautier – Gurevich Munich 1993 Move 53 White to move

White misfired with 53.b5? (53.Qxb7 holds a draw) 53…Nd4! wins as the pieces gain static control. Eventually all the queenside pawns were exchanged and Black won on the kingside.

If the minor pieces have control even with a pawn apiece, the pieces have winning chances:

Gustafsson - Svane Bonn 2011 Move 50 Black to move
Gustafsson – Svane Bonn 2011 Move 50 Black to move

Black played 50…Qc1+? and lost the pawn and the game. 50…Qg1 just holds!

The next position is one of dynamic equality:

Nisipeanu - Radjabov Bazna Move 30 Black to move
Nisipeanu – Radjabov Bazna Move 30 Black to move

30…Bc6! 31.Qxa7 Nc5=

Chapter 11 is a pot pourri of fascinating positions that do not belong elsewhere in the book.

Chapter 12 covers some endgame studies. Every endgame book should include some studies to enhance the readers’ imaginations.

The book ends with comprehensive solutions to the exercises set in each chapter.

In summary, this is an excellent book which requires a lot of time to absorb. Some sections are much easier to absorb than others, for example the sections on two rooks v queen in the general case with many pawns is excellent and would be useful for club players and above.  The chapter on queen and minor piece v queen and minor piece with many pawns is also superb. The more difficult sections such as queen and pawn v queen are definitely worth studying and are fascinating in themselves.

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

FM Richard Webb, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 11th August 2021

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • Publisher:Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1949859312
  • ISBN-13:978-1949859317
  • Product Dimensions: ‎15.24 x 1.27 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317
Understanding Queen Endgames, Karsten Müller & Yakov Kanoval, Russell Enterprises (24 Mar. 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1949859317

Marvelous Modern Miniatures

Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225
Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225

From the publisher:

“50% Tactics – 50% Opening Book – 100% Enjoyment! Enter the world of chess miniatures where games are decided in 20 moves or less! Marvelous Modern Miniatures features the largest collection of miniatures chess games played in the last half-century. Over 500 pages of cut and thrust! Although every player is rated at least 2100, the overwhelming majority are strong masters or grandmasters. You will follow them as they do battle with tactical fireworks raging around them. The surprising depth of the annotations (each one of the 2,020 games has meaningful comments) turns this book into a virtual course on tactics. Looking for traps and pitfalls in your favourite openings? You’ll probably find them here. Marvelous Modern Miniatures will improve your tactical skills and alertness and sharpen your opening play. As a bonus, the entire collection is immensely enjoyable!”

Cartsen Hansen is a Danish FIDE Master, FIDE Trainer and author of twenty-eight chess books on all phases of the game. He is a columnist for American Chess Magazine and Shakbladet.

FM Carsten Hansen
FM Carsten Hansen

This action packed book is an entertaining selection of opening/early middlegame disasters which includes some miniatures with  world class players being crushed in twenty moves or less.

This book is naturally arranged by opening: on starting this book, I went straight to the section on my favourites. I offer four games from the fiery Dragon Variation.

The following game is a celebrated game which features a rare crushing loss for Dragon expert Jonathan Mestel against the late John Littlewood who was a fine feisty attacking player.

John Littlewood (2375) – Jonathan Mestel (2475)
British Championship Chester 1979

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.f4 The Levenfish variation which is a decent alternative to the highly theoretical Yugoslav Attack. Bg7!? (Better is the standard 6…Nc6) 7.e5 Nh5 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.e6!? (A dangerous line which must be handled carefully, but 9.Qe2 is better and leads to a white advantage) 9…fxe6 10.Nxe6 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qc8 12.Bxd7+ Kxd7 13.Ng5 Qc4?! (13…Qxc3+ 14.Bd2 Qc4 15.Rb1 b6 16.Rb4 Qd5 17.Qg4+ Qf5 18.Qf3 Nc6 black is slightly better, for example 19.g4 Qc5 20.gxh5 Nxb4 21.Qb7+ Qc7 22.Qxc7+ Kxc7 23.Bxb4 gxh5) 14.Rb1 Kc7

John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Move 14
John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Move 14

15.Rb4! Qxa2 The queen is very poorly placed here 16.Qe2 Nc6 17.Ne6+ 1-0 (Hopeless is 17…Kc8 18.Rxb7! Qa4 19.Rc7+ Kd8 20.0-0 Rc8 21.Rxc8+ Kxc8 22.f5 Nc6 23.Bg5 with a huge advantage)

John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Finish
John Littlewood-Mestel Chester 1979 Finish

The second featured game in the Dragon variation features a well concealed mistake in the quiet g3 line, which the reviewer had not seen before despite having played the line with both colours.

Vladimir  Georgiev (2564) – Evgeni Janev (2487)
Elgoibar 22.12.2001

1.Nf3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Nde2 Nf6 7.g3 0-0 8.Bg2 d6 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 Rb8 11.h3 b5 12.axb5 axb5 13.Be3 b4 14.Nd5 Nd7! 15.Nd4? A natural, but it is a well known mistake that is also seen in this setup with the colours reserved in the English Opening.

Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Move 15
Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Move 15

15…Bxd4! 16.Bxd4 e6 Winning a piece 17.Ne3 e5 18.Ba7 Rb7 Winning the bishop 0-1

Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Move 18
Georgiev-Janev Elgoibar 2001 Finish

The next struggle features the Classical Variation of the Dragon. White essays the sharp Stockholm Attack which was venomous in its early days, but the theory was worked out many decades ago.

Perez,Robert M (2210) – Esserman,Marc (2453)
US Open Orlando 04.08.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 g6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bg7 7.Be3 Nf6 8.Be2 0-0 9.Nb3 Be6 10.0-0 Rc8 11.g4 Na5 12.Nxa5 Qxa5 13.Bd4? [13.f5 Is better but black is at least equal after 13…Bc4]

Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Move 13
Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Move 13

13…Bxg4! 14.Bxg4 Nxg4 15.Nd5 (15.Bxg7 Qh5! The main point: protecting the knight and threatening mate, before recapturing on g7) 15…Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 e5 17.Qd1 Qc5+ 18.Kg2 Qxd5 0-1 (Black wins the queen back with Ne3+ followed by a crushing rook invasion on c2 a which gives an easily winning double rook ending.)

Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Finish
Perez-Esserman US Open 2011 Finish

My last example Wyvern offering is from a main line in the highly theoretical Soltis Variation of the Yugoslav Attack.

Goran M Todorovic (2470) – Dejan Brankovic (2345)
Yugolavian Championship Kladovo 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.Kb1 b5 15.g4 a5 16.gxh5 a4 17.h6 (17.Bxf6 is a critical alternative) 17…Bh8

Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Move 17
Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Move 17

18.h7+ (18.Bd5 is really interesting.) Kxh7?? A bad blunder [18…Nxh7 leads to a complex struggle] 19.h5 Kg8 20.hxg6 1-0 (Black’s kingside is crumbling with no hope of support: catastrophe on the h-file follows imminently with the black king meeting a grisly execution.)

Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Finish
Todorovic-Brankovic Kladovo 1996 Finish

My next featured game is from an good old fashioned slugfest in the King’s Gambit, Double Muzio Variation and features the refutation to this Victorian romantic opening.

Stephen Brady (2320) – Mark Heidenfeld (2280)
Irish Championship Limerick, 1991

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.0-0 gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.d4 Qf5! (The bust, which leads to a large black advantage) 10.g4?? Much too weakening (10.Bxf4 Nf6 11.Nc3 Bg7 12.Rae1 d6 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Be5 Qg4 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Qxg4 Bxg4 17.Nd5 h5 18.Nxf6 Kg6 19.Nxg4 hxg4 20.Re4 Rhf8 with a winning endgame but black must still display some technique) 10…Qe6?! [10…Qg6! is even better] 11.d5? (Accelerating the loss, 11.Bxf4 is better still much better for black) 11…Bc5+ 12.Kg2 Qg6 13.Bxf4 Nf6 14.Be5

Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Move 14
Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Move 14

d6! The point of black’s play, the g4-pawn is targeted 15.Bxf6 Bxg4 16.Qf4 Bf3+! 0-1 (Forcing the exchange of queens, leaving black a clear piece to the good.)

Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Finish
Brady-Heidenfeld Irish Championship Limerick 1991 Finish

The next game features the dangerous Max Lange Attack in the Two Knight’s Variation for the Italian Game.

Kacper Piorun (2457) – Piotr Staniszewski (2383)
Polanica Zdroj Open  21.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.g4 A sideline, 11.Nce4 is the main line: black is fine but must know a lot Qxf6?? A very common mistake (11…Qg6 is fine)

Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move 11
Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move 11

12.Nd5 Qd8 13.Rxe6+ fxe6 14.Nxe6 Qd7 15.Ndxc7+ Kf7 16.Ng5+ Kg6 [16…Kg8 is a slight improvement] 17.Qf3 Rad8 18.Nce6 (18.Qe4+ Kf6 19.Qf4+ Kg6 20.Nge6 also wins) 1-0

Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move Finish
Piorun-Staniszewski Polanica Zdroj 2009 Move Finish

The next game shows a well known trap is the Scotch which two strong players were unaware of.

Delgado Ramirez  (2620) – J. Gemy (2401)
Arica Open 2018 17.12.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Bg7 6.Bg5 Nge7?? [6…Nce7 is best] 7.Nxd4

Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Move 7
Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Move 7

Bxd4? 8.Bxe7? [8.Qxd4! wins prettily 8…Nxd4 9.Nf6+ Kf8 10.Bh6#]

Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Variation Finish
Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Variation Finish

8…Nxe7 [8…Bxf2+ 9.Kxf2 Nxe7 10.Qd4 0-0 11.Nf6+ Kh8 12.Qc3 wins for white] 9.Qxd4 0-0 10.Nf6+ Kh8 11.0-0-0 [11.Qc3 is even stronger] 11…Nc6 12.Qc3 d6 13.Nd7+ Kg8 14.Nxf8 Qxf8 15.Bb5 Qh6+ 16.Kb1 Ne5 17.Qxc7 1-0

Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Finish
Ramirez-Gemy Arica 2018 Finish

The following encounter features an ancient trap in the Steintz Variation of the Ruy Lopez, known since 1892. I have not seen this before!

Dusan Popovic  (2363) – Tibor Jesenski (2361)
Senta Open 25.07.2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 Bd7 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.0-0 Be7 7.Re1

Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 7
Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 7

0-0? Falling into an ancient snare known since 1892. 8.Bxc6 Bxc6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Raxd8 11.Nxe5

Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 11
Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 11

Bxe4? Black hopes that he can regain his pawn exploiting white’s weak bank rank 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Nd3 f5 14.f3 Bc5+? 15.Nxc5 Nxc5 16.Bg5! The killer, this has happened many times

Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 16
Popovic- Jesenji Senta 2002 Move 16

16…Rd7 [16…Rd5 17.c4 followed by Be7] 17.Be7 b6 18.Bxf8 Kxf8 19.Rad1 1-0

 Jesenji Senta 2002 Finish
Popovic-Jesenji Senta 2002 Finish

Here is a fine attacking game from the Queen’s Gambit Accepted which shows the dynamic potential in an isolated queen pawn (IQP) middlegame. Here the former world champion Anatoly Karpov is the victim, stuffed in 18 moves.

Ulf Andersson (2630) – Anatoly Karpov (2775)
Nykoping rapidplay Nykoping 1995

Notes by Baburin

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.Qe2 cxd4 8.exd4 Be7 9.Nc3 b5 10.Bb3 0-0 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Rad1 Nc6 13.Rfe1 Nb4? This is quite a difficult line for Black anyway, but his last move is a serious mistake. (13…Na5?! 14.d5! Nxb3 15.dxe6 Qb6 16.axb3 fxe6 17.Nd4 Bd6 18.Qxe6+ Kh8 19.Nf3 Rad8 20.Bf4! Bxf3 21.Rxd6 Rxd6 22.Qxd6 Qxd6 23.Bxd6 Re8 24.Rxe8+ Nxe8 25.Be5+- Boleslavsky-Kotov, Zurich, 1953.;
13…Nd5 14.Nxd5 Bxg5 15.Nb6!? Bronstein. 15…Qxb6 16.Nxg5)

Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Move 13
Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Move 13

14.d5! This thematic break works really well for White, due to his superior development, in fact this move was analysed long ago by Russian master V. Rauzer! 14…Nfxd5 15.Nxd5 Bxg5 16.Nxb4 Qe7 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Bxd5 1-0

Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Finish
Andersson-Karpov Nykoping rapid 1995 Finish

The reviewer’s last offering shows an instructive loss by another former World Champion is just six moves. He followed a previous game Miles-Christansen where both players missed white’s sixth move winning a piece!

Alonso Zapata (2480) – Vishy Anand (2555)
Biel 1988

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Bf5?? This had been played by Christiansen against Miles who played 6.Nxe4? [5…Nxc3 is the main line] 6.Qe2 winning a piece 1-0 (6…Qe7 is met by 7. Nd5 whereas 6…d5 is met by 7.d3

Zapata-Anand Biel 1998 Finish
Zapata-Anand Biel 1998 Finish

In summary, this is a good read which revealed traps that the reviewer had not seen before. It just shows that even titled players can fall into lost positions very quickly.

I have one small criticism: the reviewer quickly spotted a couple of typos in the book but this does not detract from a didactic book. Look up your favourite openings and you may be surprised!

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 31st May 2021

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 424 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises (1 Dec. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859225
  • Product Dimensions: 17.78 x 3.18 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225
Marvelous Modern Miniatures, Carsten Hansen, Russell Enterprises, December 2020, ISBN-13 : 978-1949859225

The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian

The King's Indian According to Tigran Petrosian
The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian

The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian : Igor Yanvarjov

International Master Igor Yanvarjov is a professional chess coach. He has been a coach at the Moscow Chess Club “Spartak,” and has been on the coaching staff of a number of chess schools, including those of Petrosian, Geller, Karpov and Garry Kasparov. Grandmasters he has worked with include Lembit Oll, Rustem Dautov, Yury Piskov, among others. He currently teaches chess at the Anatoly Karpov Chess School in Moscow.

Igor Yanvarjov with Tigran Petrosian
Igor Yanvarjov with Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian, the ninth world chess champion was born to Armenian parents on June 17, 1929 in Tiflis Georgia.  He was known as one of the deepest thinkers the chess world has ever seen. His handling of complex strategic positions was legendary. His play combined deft tactical awareness with an acute sense of prophylaxis, so that opponents had the greatest difficulty in laying a finger on him. For his own part, he often seemed content holding the margin of the draw  rather than undertaking any heroics in pursuit of a win. In the analysis room, and in blitz games, Petrosian’s abundant tactical skills were apparent to everyone, but to the spectator of his tournament games, these were far from obvious, and he was regarded as dull. Petrosian responded to this criticisms by saying: “They say my games should be more ‘interesting’. I could be more ‘interesting’—and also lose.” Petrosian still remains one of the greatest players in the history of chess and if you were to consult the now defunct Chessmetrics Website, Tigran Petrosian was listed in the top 20 players of all time and was ranked at No 8 in  the 20 year peak range category (1954 – 1973). He was an expert against the King’s Indian Defence and played the system that now bears his name (although he was far more successful with the Samisch variation).

This is the first book by Russian international master Igor Yanvarjov. He has put together a superb collection of virtually all the known games played by Tigran Petrosian – with both colours – in the King’s Indian Defence and other closely related Indian  structures. He does this with the presentation of almost 300 deeply annotated, complete games. Although the material is organised by variations and tabias  this is not an opening manual but it demonstrates the skill and nuanced handling of positions that Petrosian was known for. The author’s objective wasted reveal the richness of Petrosian’s chess world and to follow the strategic development of the King’s Indian Defence through the prism of Petrosian’s creative work.

The book is divided into three parts with each part being split into several chapters. preceded by a preface from Levon Aronian a forward from Igor Zaitsev and a note from the author.

They are as follows :

Part 1 Tabiyas (Tabia number in brackets)
Chapter 1 Classical Variation (A1 – A7)
Chapter 2 The Samisch System (B1 – B10)
Chapter 3 The Fianchetto Variation (C1 – C10)
Chapter 4 The Benoni (D1 – D10)
Chapter 5 Other Systems (E1- E10)
Part 2 Elements of Success
Chapter 6 Portrait of a Chess Player
Chapter 7 Lessons from Petrosian
Chapter 8 The Problem of the Exchange
Chapter 9 “Furman’s Bishop”
Chapter 10 “Pawns are the Soul of Chess”
Chapter 11 Playing by Analogy
Chapter 12 Manoeuvring Battle
Part III Experiments
Chapter 13 Realist or Romantic?
Chapter 14 The King’s Indian with Colours – and Flanks – Reversed

The bibliography in this book contains nearly 80 entries which will give the reader some idea of the amount of research that the author has carried out for the  preparation of this book.

The games are all annotated to varying degrees of depth. Some have only light notes, whereas others have very detailed analytical variations. It is in this area Yanvarjov has done an excellent job. Many of the games contain quoted historical analysis or comments, whether by Tigran himself or his contemporaries.  In addition the author goes into great analytical detail where it makes sense to do so. I also thought that IM Yanvarjov did an excellent job in getting the right balance between prose and variations to describe the action taking place within the positions. In some cases a verbal description is given which should be helpful to players of club level in particular.

The following game is considered to be one of Petrosian’s finest achievements

In my opinion this is a superb book, written as a labour of love to showcase the player who appears to have made the biggest impression on the author. It contains a splendid collection of annotated games that will have enormous appeal to King’s Indian players.  Not only will it appeal to anyone who wishes to increase their strategic understanding of the game but also to anyone who wants a superb games collection from which any reader will derive a great deal of benefit and enjoyment.

Tony Williams, Newport, Isle of Wight, 17th April 2020

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 424 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises, Inc. (June 17, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941270573
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941270578
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.5 x 10 inches

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

The King's Indian According to Tigran Petrosian
The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian

Chess Tests

Chess Tests
Chess Tests

Chess Tests : Mark Dvoretsky

From the rear cover :

“Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2016) is considered one of the greatest chess instructors in the modern era. He left behind a great legacy of many books and publications. At the time of his passing, there were two unpublished manuscripts he had finished (and one other co-authored with study composer Oleg Pervakov).”

IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky
IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky

And from the Foreword by Artur Yusupov :

“Chess Tests offers chess players material of very high quality for working on various themes, from training combinative vision to techniques of realizing advantages. I recommend using those materials for in-depth work in the directions mentioned in the book. If you follow this advice, then this volume will become a valuable addition to your chess studies and will help you reinforce skills and knowledge you have already obtained. “And here is probably the most important point. Dvoretsky wanted to write a book that would not only teach some intricacies of chess, but would also be simply a pleasure to read for aficionados of the game, so he tried to amass the ‘tastiest’ of examples here. I hope that this last book by him is going to achieve this, presenting its readers with many chess discoveries and joy of communication with the great coach and author.”

IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky holding forth with Jonathan Speelman, Jonathan Manley., Mihai Suba and Bernard Cafferty. Photograph : Mark Huba
IM Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky holding forth with Jonathan Speelman, Jonathan Manley., Mihai Suba and Bernard Cafferty. Photograph : Mark Huba

This book (also available as an eBook) is divided into seven chapters as follows :

  1. Training Combinational Vision, 32 tests
  2. Candidate Moves, 38 tests
  3. Calculating Variations, 18 tests
  4. Attack and Defense, 28 tests
  5. Positional Play, 52 tests
  6. Realizing an Advantage, 24 tests
  7. Endgame Tests, 35 tests

and each of these is further sub-divided. Above we have indicated a number of tests for each chapter. Each of these tests comprises a position diagram with a whose move it is indicator.

Unusually, the tests sections comprise the first 62 pages and pages 63 – 206 are the solutions. So, this book is a little unusual for a standard “tactics” book in that the bulk of the text is in form of solutions and explanations.

So, this is much, much more than a routine tactics book. As you might expect from Dvoretsky the bonuses come from the solutions. It is clear that Dvoretsky had gone to great lengths to collect the test positions, and, as we found (in the BCN office), they were an absolute delight to work on. To whet your appetite here is a pleasing example from “Tasty Tactics #2 :

And here is the solution that you may wish to cover up for now :

6. Stern-Sanakoev, corr wch 1994-99

51…Ra5-a1!!

A fine queen deflection that prepares a mating attack.

52.Qb1xa1 Qd6xh2+1 53.Rh3xh2 Nf5-g3+ 54.Kh1-g1 Bc7-b6+ 55.Re1-e3 Bb6xe3#

52.Qe4 does not help..

The same combination leads to a won endgame : 52…Qxh2+ 53.Rxh2 Ng3+ 54. Kg1 Bb6+ 55.Qd4 Bxd4+ 56.cd Rxe1+ 57.Kf2 Nf1 (57…Re3!?;57…Rh1!?), but a quicker way to finish the game is 52…Qf4! (there is a threat of both 53…Qxe4 and 53…Qf1+) 53.Qe8+ Kg7 54.Rxa1 Qxh2+! 55.Rxh2 Ng3+ 56.Kg1 Bb6+.

and here is a beautiful example from Tasty Tactics #4 :

but we won’t give the solution here : you will either have to solve this yourself or buy the book or both !

The general standard of these tests is high : even the tests labelled as “not very difficult” are challenging to say the least. Particularly instructive was the “Realizing an Advantage” section which includes subsections labelled “Technique”.  Here is an example :

and here is a particularly tricky example :

In summary, this is a wonderful book and a great testament to the legend that is Mark Dvoretsky. We cannot recommend this book highly enough and claim that is it one of the best chess books of 2019. Please get it and enjoy it !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire 24th February 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 208 pages
  • Publisher:  Russell Enterprises (15 Nov. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859065
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.6 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Chess Tests
Chess Tests

The Club Player’s Modern Guide to Gambits

The Club Player's Modern Guide to Gambits
The Club Player’s Modern Guide to Gambits

The Club Player’s Modern Guide to Gambits : Nikolai Kalinichenko

Nikolai Kalinichenko is an ICCF (correspondence) grandmaster and renowned theoretician.He has published no less than 50 books on various chess aspects in Russia, Germany, France, Spain, the U.K., USA, China and other countries. His most acclaimed English-language titles include “Vassily Ivanchuk: 100 Selected Games”; “A Positional Opening Repertoire for the Club Player”; “An Aggressive Opening Repertoire for the Club Player”; and “King’s Gambit”

This is an unusual book : the theme is sacrificing a pawn (or more) in the opening for various types of compensation such as initiative, development, control of squares or perhaps simply surprise !

Those with long memories will recall the diminutive Counter Gambits by Tim Harding published by British Chess Magazine in 1974.

Counter gambits by Timothy D. Harding (1974)
Counter gambits by Timothy D. Harding (1974)

This new book could be seen (to some extent) as a successor to the above and details forty eight or so opening pawn sacrifices for both Black and White organised along the following lines :

  1. Open Games – White Gambits
  2. Open Games – Black Gambits
  3. Semi-open Games – White Gambits
  4. Semi-open Games – Black Gambits
  5. Closed Games – White Gambits
  6. Closed Games – Black Gambits
  7. Opening Variations Featuring Material Imbalances

Here is an excerpt from the publisher, Russell Enterprises, Inc. :

This is no ordinary opening book. This practical guide describes only such openings in which White or Black sacrifices material at an early stage of the game. They are called gambits (in Old Italian, gambetto means tripping).

The justification for such sacrifices can differ quite a lot. In most cases, the side that sacrifices material tends to get ahead of the opponent in development and/or opens lines to attack the enemy king. However, there are also gambits aimed at the occupation of the center (Blumenfeld Gambit), depriving the opponent of castling (Cochrane Gambit or Traxler Variation), weakening the opponent’s pawn structure (Anti-Moscow Variation), luring an opponent’s piece to an unfavorable position (sacrificing the b2-pawn), obtaining a certain positional compensation (Volga Gambit), etc.

Gambits are often associated with the romantic chess of the 19th century. Indeed, that was the heyday of such sharp openings as the King’s Gambit or Evans Gambit, but even nowadays, many games begin with one of the well-known or even innovative gambits. This should come as no surprise: gambits help to reveal the true essence of chess, “the triumph of spirit over matter.”

The concept of this book is to examine practical games and give theoretical insights in the notes rather than in stand-alone articles. Practice has shown this to be the most effective way of mastering new material. More often than not, recent games by the world’s top players have been chosen as an illustration, played in the last few years in particular. However, the most important classic games are mentioned as well. The present book analyzes almost 50 of the major gambit lines and systems. Almost 140 games are given in full, with many game fragments selected to illustrate the important deviations. And there is a special section about types of sacrificial themes, such as sacrificing the b2-pawn, sacrificing on f7, etc.

Readers who may wish to employ one of the examined gambit variations on a regular basis should, no doubt, study the specific books on that very opening, although in most cases the lines and ideas given are sufficient for a beginner or club player to include the system in his or her opening repertoire and give it a try.

One of the features of this book (which is a little unsual these days) is a potted history of each gambit, how it got its name and some idea of early adopters. This is most welcome.

For each gambit the author provides detailed analysis (which has been engine checked) plus from two to five illustrative games (usually) between strong players with copious notes.

Almost all (probably 90%) of the gambits are lines played at serious tournament level, possibly more likely in games with shorter times control and on-line where anything goes. Of the 48 probably only perhaps 3-4 would be considered suitable for the coffee-house or following a visit to the bar! These might be the Englund Gambit, The Latvian Gambit and the Blackmar-Deimer Gambit but don’t tell Tim Sawyer or any other BDG fan !

Amongst the most sound we have :

The Geller, Morra, Evans, Marshall (in the Ruy Lopez), Marshall (in the Semi Slav), Icelandic, Benko, Blumenfeld, Volga, From, Winawer Counter, Staunton, Albin Counter, Budapest, von Hennig-Schara, Krause (in the Slav) and Botvinnik gambits with the balance falling somewhere in between.

We were surprised not to find coverage of the Elephant (Queen’s Pawn Counter) gambit in the open games section but maybe the author considers it unsound :

We learnt a new name (The Been-Koomen Variation) for a familiar gambit :

that you might not have encountered previously.

Here is an example game that is analysed by the author but here analysed by Michael Kransekow :

So, in summary we have a book that is most suitable for club players and those perhaps looking for ideas for rapidplay or blitz games. Almost all of these gambits are considered to be “sound” (whatever this means in these engine dominated days) and most definitely practical and playable.

Snooty theoreticians might look down their noses at some choices forgetting that chess is a game (for most people) and to be enjoyed. This book is certainly not a rehash of “Unorthodox Chess Openings” by the late Eric Schiller and many of these gambit suggestions will liven up a dull repertoire.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire 11th January 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 256 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises (15 Oct. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 194127076X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941270769
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

The Club Player's Modern Guide to Gambits
The Club Player’s Modern Guide to Gambits

Emanuel Lasker : A Reader : A Zeal to Understand

Emanuel Lasker: A Reader
Emanuel Lasker: A Reader

Emanuel Lasker: A Reader: A Zeal to Understand : Taylor Kingston

Taylor Kingston

Taylor Kingston has been a chess enthusiast since his teens. He holds a Class A over-the-board USCF rating, and was a correspondence master in the 1980s, but his greatest love is the game’s history. His historical articles have appeared in Chess Life, New In Chess, Inside Chess, Kingpin, and the Chess Café website. He has edited numerous books, including the 21st-century edition of Lasker’s Manual of Chess, and translations from Spanish of The Life and Games of Carlos Torre, Zurich 1953: 15 Contenders for the World Championship, and Najdorf x Najdorf. He considers the Lasker Reader to be the most challenging and interesting project he has undertaken to date.

 

Taylor Kingston
Taylor Kingston

When I’m asked who my favourite chess player is, I always answer ‘Emanuel Lasker’.

Why? Partly because he was a player who didn’t really have a style. Like Magnus Carlsen, with whom he has sometimes been compared, he just played chess. But more because he was such an interesting personality. Unlike most champions (Euwe and Botvinnik were exceptions) he had a life outside chess, on several occasions taking long breaks from the game. And what a life it was: mathematician, philosopher, writer, playwright, bridge player, and, lest we forget, chess player.

Chess historians are finally taking notice of this fascinating man. In 2009 a massive volume about him was published in German, edited by Richard Forster and others. Last year the first of three volumes of a greatly expanded edition of this work appeared in English. If you have any interest at all in chess history you should certainly possess this book, and, like me, you’ll be eagerly looking forward to volumes 2 and 3.

What we have here might best be seen as a companion to this work, and, if you’re a Lasker fan or have any interest in chess history you’ll want this as well.

Taylor Kingston has compiled and edited a collection of Lasker’s own writings, not just on chess but covering every aspect of his multi-faceted personality.

We start with the London Chess Fortnightly, which Lasker published for a year between 1892 and 1893, annotating his own games as he was trying to establish himself as a contender for Steinitz’s world title. Here and throughout the book, the editor adds the occasional contribution from Stockfish 8.

Lasker and Steinitz met in 1894, with our hero becoming the second official world champion as a result of winning the match. Both players annotated some of the games for newspaper columns. In 1906 Lasker published this in his chess magazine, which we’ll come to later, but in this book they appear in the correct chronological place.

The Hastings 1895 tournament book (if you don’t have a copy I’d like to know why) was unusual in that all the games were annotated by one of the other participants. The six games Lasker annotated feature here.

Lasker’s first book, Common Sense in Chess, was published the following year. We have here an extract from Chapter 9, the End Game.

We then jump forward to 1904. The longest and, for chess players, perhaps the most interesting section of the book covers Lasker’s Chess Magazine, which was published in New York between November 1904 and January 1909. The games themselves give the reader an overview of chess during those years, with amateurs as well as masters being represented. Lasker’s annotations and, in some cases, game introductions, were often colourful in nature and tell us a lot about the man himself.

Burn-Forgacs (Ostend 1906), for instance, ‘begins like a summer breeze and ends like a winter’s gale’.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. Nf3 Qa5 7. Nd2 Ne4 8. Ndxe4 dxe4 9. Bh4 e5 10. Be2 f5 11. O-O g6 12. c5

‘Here the red lantern flashes out; queen and bishop prepare to take the diagonal from b3 to e6 and f7, which are woefully weak, and the black king will be in grave peril.’

12… Bg7 13. Qb3 Nf8 14. Bc4 Qc7 15. d5 h6 16. d6 Qd7 17. Be7 Ne6 18. Nb5 cxb5 19. Bxb5 1-0

Another major chapter concerns the 1908 Lasker-Tarrasch world championship match. After some details of the background to the match (there was little love lost between the two players: Edward Lasker quoted Tarrasch as saying ‘the only words I will address to him are check and mate!). Taylor Kingston presents the games with annotations from Lasker’s Chess Magazine, Tarrasch’s book of the match and other contemporary sources, along with the usual computer interjections.

We then have a chapter on Lasker’s unsuccessful 1921 match against Capablanca, and another on his non-appearance at New York 1927. Lasker’s Manual of Chess was first published in German in 1926: here we have an excerpt in which he discusses the theory of Steinitz.

Lasker’s chess writings are completed by an article on Lasker and the Endgame by guest contributor Karsten Müller, and a short section on Lasker’s problems and endgame studies.

The last 75 pages of the book consider other aspects of Lasker’s life: his philsophy, his contributions to mathematics, and Lasca, a board game he invented.

Perhaps the most interesting section offers extracts from The Philosophy of the Unattainable, his most important philosophical work, published in 1919. As far as Taylor Kingston is aware, it has never been published in English.

Lasker’s last work, The Community of the Future, was published in 1940, five months before his death. Here, Lasker considers the problems faced by the world and proposes a ‘non-competitive community’ as his solution, with ‘self-hope co-operatives’ to deal with unemployment. Again, fascinating reading, and, you might think, his utopian ideas are still of some relevance today.

The book is a well-produced paperback. There are a few notation errors caused by translation from descriptive to algebraic, but this shouldn’t cause you too much bother. I hope I’ve convinced you that this book deserves a place on your shelves.

Richard James, Twickenham 20 November 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 400 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises (19 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859003
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Emanuel Lasker: A Reader: A Zeal to Understand
Emanuel Lasker: A Reader: A Zeal to Understand