After 80 moves of his game against MVL, Carlsen reached this theoretically winning endgame position, which ended in a draw:

[Title "Carlsen - MVL, Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland, 2023"]
[fen "8/8/4k3/8/3K3p/7N/8/6N1 w - - 0 1"]

According analysis by Troitsky in the 1930's the black pawn has to be no further forward than the line below:

enter image description here

It is a very difficult endgame for both players, particularly at rapid/blitz time controls, so no surprise that Carlsen failed to convert.

I know of two standard time control, master games where this endgame arose and both times the two knights won!

[Title "Niemann - Panchanatham, Chicago Open, 2015"]
[fen ""]
[Startply "112"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 Na6 7.O-O e5 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.h3 h6 11.Bc1 exd4 12.Nxd4 Nf6 13.Bf3 Qe5 14.Re1 Rd8 15.b3 Nh7 16.Be3 Ng5 17.Ndb5 c6 18.Bd4 Qf4 19.Bxg7 Nxf3+ 20.Qxf3 Qxf3 21.gxf3 Kxg7 22.Nd4 Bxh3 23.Rad1 Nc7 24.Kh2 Bc8 25.Rd2 Kf6 26.f4 Ne6 27.Nde2 a5 28.Red1 Ke7 29.Na4 Rb8 30.Nb6 Nc5 31.e5 Ne4 32.Rd4 Bf5 33.f3 dxe5 34.Rxd8 Rxd8 35.Rxd8 Kxd8 36.fxe4 Bg4 37.Nc1 exf4 38.Nd3 g5 39.c5 Be6 40.Ne5 Kc7 41.Nbc4 a4 42.Nd2 b6 43.cxb6+ Kxb6 44.bxa4 Ka5 45.Nxc6+ Kxa4 46.Nb1 h5 47.Nc3+ Ka3 48.Nd5 f5 49.Nd4 fxe4 50.Nxe6 e3 51.Nxg5 e2 52.Nf3 Kxa2 53.Nc3+ Kb3 54.Nxe2 h4 55.Kh3 Kc4 56.Kxh4 Kd3 57.Ned4 Ke4 58.Kg5 Kd5 59.Kf5 Kc4 60.Ke4 Kc5 61.Ne2 Kc4 62.Kf5 Kd3 63.Ned4 Kc4 64.Ke4 Kc5 65.Kd3 Kd5 66.Nb3 Kd6 67.Kd4 Ke6 68.Ke4 Kd6 69.Kd4 Ke6 70.Nbd2 Kd6 71.Kc4 Ke6 72.Nf1 Kd6 73.N1h2 Ke6 74.Kc5 Kd7 75.Ng4 Ke6 76.Nf2 Kd7 77.Ne4 Ke6 78.Nd6 Kd7 79.Nb5 Ke6 80.Nbd4+ Kd7 81.Kd5 Kc7 82.Ke6 Kb6 83.Kd6 Kb7 84.Nb5 Kb6 85.Nc3 Ka5 86.Kc5 Ka6 87.Nd5 Ka5 88.Nb6 Ka6 89.Nc4 Kb7 90.Kd6 Kc8 91.Na5 Kd8 92.Nb7+ Ke8 93.Ke6 Kf8 94.Nd6 Kg7 95.Kf5 Kh6 96.Ne8 Kh5 97.Ng7+ Kh6 98.Kf6 Kh7 99.Nf5 Kg8 100.Ke7 Kh7 101.Kf7 Kh8 102.Ng5 f3 103.Ne7 f2 104.Ng6# 1-0

and Karjakin vs Sevian 2018 Isle of Man.

[Title "Karjakin vs Sevian, 2018, Isle of Man"]
[fen ""]
[Startply "116"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 b4 9. a5 d6 10. d3 Be6 11. Nbd2 Qc8 12. h3 Rb8 13. Nc4 h6 14. Be3 Rd8 15. Qe2 Bf8 16. Nfd2 g6 17. Ba4 Qb7 18. Qf3 Nh7 19. Qg3 Bg7 20. f4 exf4 21. Bxf4 Nf6 22. Be3 Nd7 23. Qf2 Nc5 24. Bxc6 Qxc6 25. Bd4 Bxd4 26. Qxd4 b3 27. c3 Nd7 28. Qe3 d5 29. exd5 Bxd5 30. Qxh6 Re8 31. Ne3 Ne5 32. c4 Bxg2 33. Nxg2 Nxd3 34. Re3 Qc5 35. Kh1 Nf2+ 36. Kh2 Qd6+ 37. Kg1 Rxe3 38. Qxe3 Nxh3+ 39. Kh1 Kg7 40. Re1 Rh8 41. Qe5+ Qxe5 42. Rxe5 Ng5+ 43. Kg1 Rd8 44. Rd5 Rxd5 45. cxd5 Kf6 46. Nxb3 Ne4 47. Ne3 Ke5 48. Kg2 f5 49. Nc1 f4 50. Nc2 Kxd5 51. Nb4+ Kc4 52. Nxa6 Kb5 53. Nxc7+ Kxa5 54. Nd3 Nd2 55. Ne6 Kb5 56. Nexf4 Nc4 57. Ne6 Nxb2 58. Nxb2 g5 59. Nd4+ Kc5 60. Nf5 g4 61. Ng3 Kd4 62. Kf2 Kc3 63. Nd1+ Kd3 64. Ke1 Kc4 65. Kd2 Kd4 66. Nc3 Kc4 67. Nce2 Kd5 68. Kc3 Kc5 69. Nf4 Kc6 70. Kc4 Kd6 71. Nd3 Kc6 72. Ne5+ Kd6 73. Kd4 Ke6 74. Nc4 Kf6 75. Ne3 Ke6 76. Nef5 Kd7 77. Kd5 Kc7 78. Nd4 Kd7 79. Ne6 Ke7 80. Nc5 Kf7 81. Kd6 Kf6 82. Nce4+ Kf7 83. Kd7 Kf8 84. Nd6 Kg7 85. Ke6 Kg6 86. Nde4 Kg7 87. Ke7 Kg8 88. Kf6 Kh7 89. Nf5 Kg8 (89...g3 90. Kf7 g2 91. Ng5+ Kh8 92. Ne7 g1=Q 93. Ng6#) 90. Ke7 g3 91. Nf6+ Kh8 92. Kf8 1-0

Interestingly in both these games the pawn was in front of the line and so the games were both theoretical draws.

In master level FIDE rated games at standard time controls what is the win rate for the two knights? Of the two games I know of, above, it is 2 out of 2 but it must be lower than 100%.

  • It amazes me that 2 decades of chess...I still dont know the technical names for these sort of things lol.
    – Dheebs
    May 23, 2023 at 1:48
  • GM Efim Geller allegedly failed to win this (from a winnable position) when he was young. Vexxed by the result, he committed to study and practice this endgame until he mastered it. 20 years later, he finally reached that position in a game again... and still failed to win it !
    – Evargalo
    May 24, 2023 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


I did a scan of my personal databases , limited the data to standard time controls, and limited the dataset down to players that have held IM or GM ratings throughout their career.

I found in total 311 games that met the criteria.

  • Win: 68
  • Draw: 243

So that's a win conversion rate of a little over 1 in 5 games (21.8%).

Notes: Database contains a little over of 15 million games, largely comprised of tournament play.

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