Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Inverse Philidor

Since our exams are coming up this will be the last rook endgame challenge that we will be going through in a while. Let's take a look at the position again:

White to move, Black to draw

Once again if it were Black to move things become easy after 1... Rh6! with a draw to follow (I hope you STILL remember this!). But of course with White to move, he makes life hard for Black with:

1. Rg6!

After which White grins at Black and says:

Sorry for stealing your 6th rank, bro

But is it now time for Black to tip his king over and give the point to White? No! Black can still draw with a deceptively surprising method as we shall see.



1.... Rh1! (D)

Position after 1... Rh1!

Remember how a long time ago (http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.sg/2013/12/revising-basic-rook-endgames-part-1.html) I told y'all to forget about the Rh1 maneuver because it is too difficult to draw? But now, Black has no other choice... so seems like we'll have to pick up this skill anyway!

2. Rg7+ Kd8
3. Kc6

After 3. Kd6 (hoping for 4. Rg8#) Rh6+ Black retakes the 6th rank for himself.

3... Rd1!

The critical move to drawing this game. Apart from the fact that it places the rook behind the pawn, we shall see later why this move is so important!

Now, White can enter several variations, and Black must know how to respond correctly to all of them. The first variation we will look at:

4. Rg8+ (D)

Position after 4. Rg8+

4... Ke7

Demonstrating the strength of 3... Rd1: White now cannot play 4. d6 for fear of 4... Rxd6, while 4. Rg7+ Kd8 simply repeats the position.

...

Stage 1: Cleared. So let's go back to just after Black's 3rd move (3... Rd1) and see what else White can play:

4. Kd6 (D)

Position after 4. Kd6

Threatening mate on the 8th rank. The best way out for Black will be:

4... Kc8

Escaping onto the short side of the board; remember that the weaker side should strive to put his king on the shorter side of the board so as to allow maximum checking distance for his rook on the long side should the need arise. If you don't understand what gibberish I just said... here you go: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.sg/2014/02/rook-5th-rank-pawn-vs-rook.html

5. Rg8+ Kb7
6. Ke6 Kc7!

Again showing the strength of 3... Rd1: White still can't advance the pawn. Note that 6... Re1+?! 7. Kd7 brings White dangerously close to a Lucena Position, which Black should avoid at all costs! (Though on a side note, Fritz still analyzes the position after 6... Re1+ as a draw)

...

Stage 2: Cleared. Now on to the final task; let's go back to the position after Black's 5th move (5... Kb7). Instead of 6. Ke6, White tries something new:

6. Rd8 (D)

Position after 6. Rd8

Threatening 7. Ke6 after which White can advance the pawn with impunity. But of course Black does not have to be so accomodating:

6... Rh1

Preparing to rain checks from the long side of the board, and retaking control of the 6th rank (thus creating another easy Philidor Position). White tries his last shot:

7. Re8

Hoping for 7... Rh6+? 8. Re6, but Black simply declines the offer and returns to a status quo:

7... Rd1

And we're back to where we started. Since White can't make any progress, both sides can agree to a draw.

1/2-1/2

...

Well, did that look simple enough? Perhaps looking through it a few more times will allow you to familiarize with the drawing technique. And if you thought that was too easy, let me screw around with your mind a little by shifting the pieces around:

White to move wins, Black to move draws

See? I just switched the ranks of the Black king and both rooks and everything suddenly becomes so different: Now White can win if he has the move!

If it were Black to move of course he draws with 1... Rh6 and everything's good and easy after that. But now if we gave White the move:



1. Kc6! Rh1

Or 1... Rf8 2. Ra7! (demonstrating the power of active rooks over passive ones) 2... Rf6+ 3. d6 Ke8 4. Ra8+ Kf7 5. Kc7 Rf1 6. d7 Rc1+ 7. Kd8 with an upcoming Lucena Position.

2. Rg8+ Ke7

White must not allow Black any chance to play Rd1!

3. d6+ Kf7
4. Rg2 Rc1+
5. Kd7
1-0

And from there onwards it should not be too difficult for White to set up his beloved Lucena Position.

...

I hope y'all are following well with these interesting variations of the Philidor Position! In any case, I must pause our journey here for now, since many of us have to prep for our upcoming exams. I may continue to post some puzzles or other interesting stuff that I may wish to share with everyone up here, but we can only resume our study of rook endgames after our exams are over.

All the best, guys!

Sources:
http://loltourneys.spreadshirt.com/sorry-for-the-kill-steal-A13025015
"Silman's Complete Endgame Course" by Jeremy Silman
"Chess Endgame Training" by Bernd Rosen

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