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Manual Starting Out: Rook Endgames

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Of all chess endings pawn, queen, rook, bishop and knight , rook endings are the ones encountered most frequently. In this way we will be able to make correct decisions at important junctures of the game, decisions that will either promise us victory or allow us to secure the draw. This DVD, called 'Rook Handling', tries to cover important parts of this field and help you to assimilate knowledge and to understand in depth the proper handling of rooks in certain cases.

We shall examine how to keep our rook active, how to trap a rook, how not to lose a drawn rook ending, how to handle technical rook endings, how to successfully transfer our rook, how to enhance cooperation between rook and knight and finally how to defend against a knight and three pawns.


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To be honest, this is just a small amount of the huge quantity of material that one has to learn about rooks, but in any case it is a good start! This helps to advance them and of course prevents the enemy rook from achieving that same aim.

Theblackrookishappytoblockonlybecauseitisrightlyconfidentthatthefallofthewhiteb pawnisimminent. Kg6 Diagram21 Simultaneouslyprotectingthepawnandcuttingofftheblackking,thewhiterookwasplaced wellonf5. Giventimehewouldbeabletowinashiskingcouldmarchovertohelpassistinthe bpawn'sadvance. ThereareothersimplesituationsthatIwouldliketodiscuss,startingwiththeapplicationofa littlecommonsense alwaysusefulinagameofchess! Example32 Diagram23 Whitehasgothispawnallthewaytotheseventhrank,butinorderforittobe abletotakethatfinalstep,heneedstobeabletoextracthisking.

There is a crafty solutiontothisoutlinedinthenextexample,butfornowobservethesimplicityofthetext. Rg32Rh7 Thismanoeuvreisnotnewtothischapter. Theblatantideaistoforcetheblackrookoffofthe gfilesothatthewhitekingcangetoutfrominfrontofthepawn. Ke6 Upon Rg13Rg7Rf14Kg8,alas fromBlack'spointofview!

Rookand knightversusrookisatheoreticaldraw withIcantellyou, notgreatpracticalwinningchances either! Rf34Kg8 andWhitewins. Example33 Diagram25 ShiftingeverythingonefiletotherightmakesWhiteworkharder. NOTE:Thisisknownasthe'Lucena'technique,andLucena'spositionisallaboutbuildinga bridgeforthewhiteking well,somethinglikethat! Kd6 Theimmediate The subtlety behind White's second move is highlighted with the basic Kd7 Diagram27 1Rd1!

A powerful move, cutting off the black king. Now Black can do nothing to prevent White reachingasimilarpositiontotheonestudiedinExample Generallyitdoesn'tlookgoodforthedefenderwhenhiskingiscutoff,butthefollowingcase showsthatallmaybenotlost. Introducing anotherresourceintheformof'frontalchecks'. Ifallowed,thewhitekingwould just escort his fpawn home as the black monarch is cut off and thus powerless to offer assistance.

Thetextmove crashesWhite'sparty. ItisessentialthatBlackrecognizeswhenhe canandcannotaffordtoexchangerooks. NOTE:Onehasthe'opposition'whenthetwokingsareopposedanditistheopponent's kingthatmustgiveway.

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Theconceptisparticularlyrelevantinkingandpawnendgames, wheretohavetheoppositionornotisoftenthedifferencebetweenawinandadraw or adrawandaloss. Diagram30 Thiseffectivelybreaksthe'cutoff'barrier. Whitecan'tlegallyavoidtheswapofrookshere,but evenifhecoulditwouldstillmeantheblackkingbeingabletotraversetheefile. Kf8 is the only move but also a wellknown one or at least one easily workedoutovertheboard!

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Diagram31 1Rd1! Rxd1 After Withthedefendingkingbackonthecase, it'snosurprisethatheholds,forexample Diagram33 1Rc5! Black has just tried to break the 'cut off ' barrier with Rc8, but the text move maintains it. Diagram34 Obtainingtheoppositionanditisbecauseofthisthatthebpawnwillpromote.

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Youarenowarmouredwiththeessentialsofrookandpawnversusrookscenarios,butletme endthischapterwithapositionthatincorporatesseveralofourthemestodate. Diagram35 ThisisaninterestingsituationbecauseatfirstitseemslikeatrivialwinforBlack, ashiskinggottowhereitcountsfirst. Indeed,withBlacktoplayhecouldeasilyforcewinswith either Rd8 preparingtobringthekingout or However, with White to play he has what should now to the reader be a familiar defensive resource. Upon the passive 3 Rh1?

Diagram36 Ifthebaitistakenthenthepawnpromotes. Ontheotherhand,after4 Rg1thedefendingrookissqueezedvia Diagram37 Thereisstillnoneedfor4Rh1?. Indeed,asbefore albeitalonger,cuterversion thispassive retreatlosesafter The black king gets frustrated and tries to approach the rook, but now this gives White the opportunitythathehasbeenlookingfor. Yes, if anything, the more complex the position seems, the more important all those 'rooks behindpassedpawns'and'activateyourking'typeofprinciplesbecome.

Invariably,withallotherthings thatispawnstructure,positioning ofthekings,relativerook activity beingapproximatelyequal,strongplayerswillshakehandsforadrawinlevelmaterial rookandpawnendings,oftenwithoutevenmakingamove. ActivatingRooks Thenextexamplewouldn'tbesuchanoccasionofanearlyhandshake,withtherelativerook activitiesbeingthekeyissue.

Diagram1 1Rd1! As Black would still have some untangling to do, White would still have the upper hand.

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Rf7,wasamuchmoresatisfactorydefensive try. Placedhere,thewhiterookcutsofftheenemykingonthebackrankandtiestheblackrook downtoagrimroleofdefender. WereBlack'sf6pawnonf7insteadthentherewouldbesome lightattheendofthattunnel. Theblackkingcouldrushtoe8inordertoevictthewhiterook, afterwhichhisownrookwouldbefreeofitsdefensiveshackles. Alas,that'snotpossiblehere asthehpawnishanging. Note that after However,thenhisrookismuchless effectivethanitwasbefore,whilst To lose in such a manner is a horrible experience that I hope I have prompted you to try to avoid. Regardingtheconceptofoffloadingapawninsearchofactivity,thisisessentiallybased onthepremisethat,assumingareasonablyplacedkingandanactiverook,thereareexcellent chancestoholdadraw.

Example40 Diagram3 1h4!

Thisisn'tasimportanthereasitisinExample42,butneverthelessthisisanothergoodhabitto getinto. TIP: When down on material, one should aim to swaps off pawns and not pieces. ThetextbuysWhiteabitofspaceonthekingsideandsuggeststhatifBlackwantstoadvance his kingside pawns then some swaps will be made. Possibly even more relevant here is that WhitewantsBlacktogivesomeseriousthoughttojusthowdangerousWhite'skingsidepawns couldbecomeshouldBlackgettoofruityonthequeenside.

Kf6 With the rooks off of the board, the black win would be trivial even if the black pawn was further back and couldn't promote immediately i.

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Blackthenattemptstogetsomethinggoing withhiskingsidepawnsbutsolongasWhiteappliesamodicumofcarethenhewillbefine. Specifically, he mustn't wander his king out into the open where it might fall foul of an embarrassing rook check, and he mustn't walk into the skewer trick detailed in Chapter One.

Technical King & Pawn, Rook & Pawn Endgames - GM Ben Finegold - 2015.06.02

This is the safe square. Taking with the king would have run into An interesting exercise for the reader to do here is to play this one on for a while. You will observethatduetotheconceptof'zugzwang',Whitewillhavetomovewhenhewouldrather not. Withhisownrookaspassiveas it comes, Black will be unable to make any headway. Temporarily two pawns up, his only TIP: Be sure to apply your knowledge of rook and pawn versus rook to any situations wheretranspositionscouldbecomepossible. Thekingsheltersfromwhiterookchecks ona2,whilsttheblackrookrepositionsitself forexample,viab1tob3 when Niceintheorybuttheflyintheointmentisthatwhilethepawnisonlyona3,the whiterookisfreetomove.

I'mcertainlynotgoingtosuggestthatWhiteiswinningafterthis, but the following continuation, highlighting the risks, is now well within the realms of probability. Black'srookisunableto stopbothpawnsandWhitewins. Diagram 7 This is the black rook's worst nightmare. With the white passed pawn just three squaresfromtheend,itmuststayput. Diagram8 Whiteplaysacleverwaitingmovethatputstheballintotheopponent'scourt.

IfBlackretreats hisrook,theapawnwilladvance,andasthekingsidepawnswillrunoutofmoves whilstthe whiterookcanjustgotoandfro ,eventuallytheblackkingwillhavetogiveway. Kb5 Kd56Kb4Kc67Kc4leavesBlackwiththesamehorribledilemma:toallowthewhiteking accesstohiskingsideorhisqueenside.


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Ra6 Something had to block the apawn, but although Ka6 would have left the rook free for a moreactiverole,actuallythereisnothingforittoattack. Indeed, Black is in zugzwang here. He can't move his pawns or rook without losing pawns, whilstgivinggroundwiththekingonlyallowstheapawntoadvance. Certainlythepreviouschaptershowedhowwithcarefuldefence,ifthedefendingkingisonthe queeningsquarethenrookandpawnversusrookisadraw.

Withaliquidationtothissimple endingusuallybeingtheaim,italsofollowsthat2versus1and3versus2arealsodraws. The more pawns involved, however, the better the winning chances and the more active the defenceneedstobe.