Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Endgame Technique & Karsten Müller

When anyone mentions training on endgames, one of the names that frequently pops into conversation is Germany's very own chess mathematician and Chessbase presenter Dr Karsten Müller.

At times, his name has become so synonymous with endgame technique that I find it hard to separate one from the other.

He appears everywhere. When he's not releasing books (eg. the latest ChessCafe Puzzle Book 3), you can see him on every issue of Chessbase Magazine (where he deals out even more endgame commentaries and analysis in Chessbase video format), on Chessbase Fritz Trainers (his Endgame series are still ever popular) or on ChessCafe's monthly endgame columns.

And when he's not busy with doing books and videos, he plays for the chess club Hamburger SK team in the German Bundesliga. Dr Müller (he got his PhD at the University of Hamburg) was also a coach and trainer.

One of the reasons for his popularity is his video presentations for Chessbase. He attacks each video lesson with such fervour and aplomb and at times, is unintentionally humorous. In one endgame lesson, he looks at the position in a 2R+K vs 2R+K endgame and proclaims, "now, you can choose to exchange off one pair of the rooks.... *pause* .... maybe not, we shall see..."

I've been an avid reader of Müller's Chesscafe columns. If you sort through the Chesscafe archives, his Endgame columns are worth their weight in gold. If you're below 2000 Elo rating, there are at least 100 Elo points waiting to be earned in those columns.

(Above image: Karsten Müller in his Chessbase Endgame DVD
examines one of his own games in an endgame
which he converted with ease
- yes, he does know his endgame, folks!)

Some fun facts:

He achieved his first GM norm at the German Championship 1997. The critical game took place on his 27th birthday, he was a whole rook down but his opponent was short on time and allowed him a perpetual check.

As he was about to publish his book, Fundamental Chess Endings with Frank Lamprecht, tablebases started to appear on the chess scene. He had to go back and check all the analyses (yikes!) . To make matters worse, he uses the Nunn convention where each move marked by an exclamation mark(!) means it is the only move to play.

Igor Tabolyi sought fit to put a chapter on Müller in the book, Genius In The Background.

Müller has also translated a few chess books into German including Secrets Of Modern Chess Strategy, How To Beat Your Dad At Chess and Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual.

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