Saturday, February 9, 2008

Karsten Mueller: Endgames Vol 1

I've finally got some time (in between fuelling a massive cough/sore throat) resting at home, sucking on Strepsils, gargling salt water and taking cough medicine, I got some time to sit down and watch Mueller's Endgame Volume 1 : Basic Knowledge For Beginners.

Mueller is a well known endgame expert GM (my wife calls him the "bun" - because his cheeks are rather round and the shape of his head looks like a bun) and also has a PhD in mathematics. In this series of DVDs, he lays down the basic rules which "all chess players must know" (as Mueller himself puts it).

A resident from Hamburg, Mueller speaks with a noticeable German accent. Mueller is concise, goes through each example slowly and it was thus, not a problem following him.

The layout of the DVD is as follows:

Chapter 1: Mating (with Queen, Rook, double Bishops, Bishop and Knight)
Chapter 2: Pawn Endings (Rule Of The Square, K+P v K, Bodycheck, Opposition, Passed Pawns, Triangulation)
Chapter 3: Knight Endings (Knight vs Pawns)
Chapter 4: Bishop Endings (Bishop vs Pawns, Opposite coloured Bishops)
Chapter 5: Bishop vs Knight
Supplementary Chapter: Queen vs Pawns (1 video)

In all, there are slightly over 35 video fragments.

Most of the material covered here is fairly basic but it is a very good refresher course (even if you do know it). Mueller chooses highly instructive examples to demonstrate his point and he is very comfortable with the Fritz GUI, using highlighted squares and arrows throughout his presentation.

Mueller's tone is slightly deadpan, he's not as interesting as say, instructors like Andrew Martin but he carries himself well in front of the camera and exudes confidence.

There are some slightly comedic moments eg. when Mueller says,"Even if I were to wake you from your sleep, you will still be able to know how to checkmate with your Queen!"

Do note that his material is taken from his encyclopedic book, Fundamental Chess Endings. So if you don't feel like spending the $$$ for this DVD, do at least grab his book.

One thing I noticed with regards to learning chess this way, I absorb the material much faster than if I were to read a book and play the moves from the book using a board. The downside is that Mueller unfortunately cannot cover more of this in just one DVD.

If I have to give this a rating, I would say, it's 8.5 stars out of 10 stars.

It's a very good chess DVD (the Chessbase Reader is included fyi) and one I would heartedly recommend.


  1. I like listening to him because he gets so excited and uses great metaphors.

  2. I agree. He does, doesn't he? Especially when his eyes lit up when he sees an endgame position which involves some very deep tactics.

    In his later DVDs, he even goes slightly deadpan when he mouths a joke or two and it is surpisingly effective in getting quite a laugh out of me. :)