Monday, December 8, 2014

Rook endgame practice 1

Let's get started on the two positions I have shown y'all on Sunday. Here is the first one:

Black to play and draw

This one is quite obvious: Even though Black will lose his pawn, he gets an Inverse Philidor position which is a draw with correct play. Just remember: Don't panic and blunder with something like 1... Rd8? 2. Kxe6 Rb8 3. Kf6 Rd8 4. e6 Rb8 (or 4... Rd1 5. Ra8+ Rd8 6. Rxd8+ Kxd8 7. Kf7 with a losing king-pawn endgame) 5. Ra7 Rc8 6. Rh7 where Black loses due to his passive rook.

1... Re4!

Putting the rook behind the pawn. Although we prefer having the rook on e1 (with lots of checking distance), it still works here. Another good move is 1... Rh4! and after 2. Kg5 (2. Ra8+ Kd7 3. Ra7+ Ke8 4. Kxe6 Rh6+ 5. Kf5 Rb6 with an easy Philidor position) 2... Rh1 3. Rxe6+ Kd7 4. Rd6+ Ke8 5. Kf6 Ra1 Black has another Inverse Philidor and threatens to check White from the long side of the board.

(Note: It is interesting to see that if the entire position were shifted to the right by one square, i.e. White king on g6 instead of f6, then the 1... Rh4 defense won't work.)

2. Kxe6 Kf8

Moving the king to the short side of the board; it gives Black's rook sufficient checking distance along the long side.

3. Ra8+ Kg7
4. Kd6 Kf7

For the rest of the variations you can refer to the link:


Our 2nd position:

White to move; can he win?

Once again the basic theme here is easy to identify: White has a passive rook position with the pawn on the 7th rank, similar to the one shown here:

In this position, however, Black's king is not sitting on g7 or h7; White can try using the Rh8-Rh7+ trick to promote his pawn or skewer Black's rook if it captures the pawn. If only Black's f7 pawn were not not in the way...

1. f5!

White wins by decoying Black's pawns away, stripping their king of cover.


Other variations are 1... Kd7 2. Rf8 (threatening 2. Rxf7) which lose immediately, and 1... Ra3+ 2. Ke4 leading to similar variations in our main line.

2. g6! fxg6

After 2... Ra3+ 3. Kf4 Ra4+ 4. Kxf5 fxg6+ 5. Kxg6 Black cannot do much to stop 6. Rg8/6. Rh8

3. Rg8

And the familiar trick comes to play; White threatens to promote his pawn or play Rg8+ should Black capture.

3... Ra3+
4. Kf4

The White king will slowly destroy Black's checking distance.

4... Ra4+
5. Ke5 (D)

Position after 5. Ke5

Watch out for drawing traps: After 5. Kg5 Kf7! 6. a8=Q? Rg4!7. Kh6 Rh4+ Black saves the game with a perpetual check.

5... Ra5+

5... f4 6. a8=Q Rxa8 7. Rxa8 and White will win the resulting Rook vs Connected Pawns endgame, since the pawns have yet to cross the 6th rank and White's king is close by.

6. Kd4 Ra4+
7. Kc5 Ra5+

Or 7... Rxa7 8. Rg7+

8. Kb6


Simple? Let's end off with three more positions for y'all to challenge yourselves again:

Position 1: White to move and draw

Position 2: Black to move, can he save the game?

Position 3: White to move, can he win? What if it were Black to move?

Have fun! (:

"Chess Endgame Training" by Bernd Rosen
"Silman's Complete Endgame Course" by Jeremy Silman

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