Monday, December 6, 2010

Beginners Rook Endings

Find Barrance

Ok so here we are, my secret shame. I've spent all of about 30 minutes looking at rook endings, and unsurprisingly that's where I'm dropping the highest number of games.

It should be slightly illogical that I've been writing for an audience of 1700ish, trying to find the backbone of the Najdorf, when I don't even know the Philidor position, but something tells me I'm not the only one in that boat!

A general point: a few weeks ago I went to the Melbourne Chess Club "Openings Group" and what you notice when surrounded by the likes of Michael Baron (2324) and Carl Gorka(2179) (pictured above), is that they are not particularly *amazing* opening players. I can think of a few sub 2000 players who know far more theory than them. But what they do have is a great balance in their abilities. One piece of advice they both gave was not to get bogged down studying one opening system, but rather learn to understand a variety of formations and setups. So- in the next few months my goal is just that: Balance, not just with openings but across all of my chess.

1. Rook and King VS King and Pawn
6R1/8/5K2/2k5/1p6/8/8/8 w - - 0 1
From Edmar Mednis', Practical Rook Endings (great book!)
Remember, for "white" to win, he must get his King and Rook to cover a square the black pawn passes through. Remember that the Rook is a long range piece, and can come into the action at any time- so focus on getting the King to perform the right function!

White to play in a critical position:
Forces the black King away from the defence of d2/d3/d4 and therefore c2/c3/c4 too

It's also interesting to study with black to move first, when the black king needs to (a) assist his own pawn forward, and (b) block out the opposing king.

2. Here's an example of how not to do it:

What did black do wrong?
3r4/8/1PK2p2/5k2/8/8/8/1R6 b - - 0 70

3. An instructive example from Reti (particularly interesting is black to play &draw after Rd1?)
8/4K3/8/3pk3/3R4/8/8/8 w - - 0 1

4. Rook V two connected pawns: A simple one illustrates a more global concept
A simpler (theoretical) one shows a global concept: white plays Rg7 to immobilise the black pawns, then he can play the instructive: 1. ... Kb7, Kb3 (of course Rg4 wins in this example), Kc6, Kc4! Black to play wins with 1. f3, when "two connected passed pawns on the 6th beat anything, up to a royal flush." (Ian Rogers!) The point of this simple example is show similar themes in more practical positions like the next few:
White to play and win

So the common theme in all these is that the side with the pawns is trying to get them both on the 6th rank without any damage, and that the side with the Rook is trying to stop that. A few quick ones to illustrate the point:

White to play and win
Very Interesting to try to find the draw for black if white blunders:

And one last R v P before I move on to the Philidor/Lucena:
White can win using some of the themes above:
8/8/8/8/4k3/3pp3/R7/4K3 w - - 0 1

5. The Philidor position:

The philidor draw is fairly easy to achieve by following 3 rules:
i. Your rook on the third/sixth rank and king defending the last rank
ii. Keep the rook on the third rank until your opponent moves his pawn forward to the third.
iii. At that moment, play your rook back to the 1st/8th rank and check until drawn

6. The Lucena position

7. Reaching the Lucena position!

So remember- Find Barronce!


  1. Come along to the Endgame Group next week, Paul. I'll be looking at some endgames from the Masters, including my Rook and rook's Pawn against Rook endgame against Bobby Cheng.

  2. I shall! I wanted to post about your game but haven't got round to studying R+P Vs R yet as you can see :>!!!