Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rook vs Connected Passed Pawns: Part 2

Earlier on we saw how connected passed pawns can defeat a rook once they have crossed the 6th rank and both kings are still far away. This, however, is not common and in practice both kings are usually close to the action. Let us take a look at what happens when that occurs in the following position:

White to move draws, Black to move wins

When both kings are closer their position makes a major difference in deciding the outcome of the game. Here, White's rook is optimally placed on the back rank, where he can safely snipe at the enemy king and pawns from a distance:

The very bane of existence

Hence White to move draws by checking the enemy king from the back rank, forcing him in front of the pawns so that the White king can advance to help stop the pawns.

1. Kg4 Ke3

Or 1... c3 2. Re8+ Kd4 3. Kf4 c2 4. Rd8+ Kc3 5. Rc8+ Kd2 6. Ke4 leading to a similar position in our main line.

2. Re8+ Kd2

The Black king is forced in front of the pawns; attempting to shelter with 2... Kf2 3. Rf8+ Kg2 allows White to attack the pawns with 4. Rd8+

3. Kf3 c3

3... Kc2 allows White's king to arrive in time to stop the pawns after 4. Rd8 d2 (Or 4... c3 5. Ke3) 5. Ke2 =

4. Rc8

The rook attacks the unobstructed pawn.

4... c2
5. Ke4 c1=Q
6. Rxc1 Kxc1
7. Kxd3

Here White is able to draw because his rook is in a perfect position, and his king is close enough to stop the pawns. On the other hand, Black to move wins because White's king is one step too far to help:

1... Ke3
2. Re8+ Kd2
3. Kf4 c3
4. Rc8

4. Ke4 doesn't help either; 4... Kc2 5. Rd8 d2 and the pawn cannot be stopped

4... Kc2
5. Ke3

The White king wants to come in and stop the pawn but alas, it lacks the tempo to do so!

5... d2
6. Rd8 d1=Q


If we were to shift the position of the White king in the earlier example it might result in different outcomes; shifting the White king closer to the front of the pawns makes it easier for him to stop the pawns and play for a win. For example, if White's king were on g4 then he wins after 1. Re8+ Kd4 2. Kf3 c3 3. Rd8+ Kc4 4. Ke3 d2 5. Ke2 Kb3 6. Kd1 +-

You can try placing the White king on different squares and see whether White is able to play for a draw or a win, depending on the position. Try this out as a personal challenge! (:


When the position of the two pawns are swapped around, it becomes much more drawish because White's king is closer to the backward pawn. Here, White can draw easily even though his king is on the other side of the world; however, he has fewer winning chances as well.

White to move draws, Black to move wins

White to move draws in the usual manner: Using the back rank for rook attacks, and marching his king towards the pawns.

1. Kg7 Kd3

The other variation is 1... d3 where White draws after 2. Rc4+ (Not 2. Rxc3?? d2! and suddenly Black's pawn cannot be stopped) 2... Kd5 3. Rxc3 =

2. Kf6 Kc2
3. Ke5 d3
4. Kd4 d2

5. Rxc3+ Kb1

Black to move wins after 1... Kd3 2. Kg7 Kc2 3. Kf6 d3 when the White king is still too far away to stop the pawns.

Once again you can place the White king in different starting positions and see what sort of difference it can make to the game.


So we've seen how the position of both kings can readily affect the battle between the rook and the connected pawns. In Part 3, we shall take a look at a final but interesting example of rook vs connected passed pawns.

Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 1:
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 2:
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 3:
Rook vs Lone Pawn Part 4:
Rook vs Connected Pawns Part 1:

"A Guide to Chess Endings" by Max Euwe

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