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Hi, in most games where I castle king-side, I have a rook still at QR1 (a1/8) and a pawn at (a2/7).
In the early middle game I often find that the rook ends up stuck there, serving zero purpose other than to defend the pawn in front of it, simply because it's blocked by my own pawns or perhaps there is still a knight, bishop or queen still on the back rank. Is this normal in good chess play, and its just that the rook is difficult to get into play? (Hence so many rook endgames).
Also, say I have a rook on a1/8 (or on the other side perhaps if I castled long), and its pawn is still in front of it on the second rank. I don't know the general theory about pushing the rook pawn or not. It often seems tempting to push that pawn, especially when I have no better ideas, but I'm always puzzled about whether that's usually a good idea or not.
So I guess in summary - can someone point me to some general theory about how to handle a/f rooks and rook pawns?
If your rook stays on its starting square for more than 14 moves you should see your chess coach immediately.
Srsly, while you might have a rook stay where it is sometimes, this is because there is a lot going on elsewhere and you don't have time to bring your rook in. Usually you should move it to one of the center files, where your pawns will have moved out of the way.
Pushing the a pawn is a bad way to develop your rook, because it takes several moves, and now that your rook is out, your pawn is just sitting there without support, requiring more moves to protect it.
It's rarely worth while to push the rooks pawn. There are exceptions of course, the most common of which is to start pushing your h-pawn towards the enemy's king if the monarch is positioned behind a fianchettoed bishop.
General rules for using rooks might be:
Connect them - that is, keep them on the same rank without pieces between them.
You might want to keep them on your first rank to guard against back-rank tricks untill you can find a better outpost for them.
Rooks like the 7th rank (that is the rank where your opponent's pawns are at the start of the game), since usually there remains a few pawns even in the late middle-/engame and they can do some serious damage there.
Try to position your rooks on open or half-open files or behind passed pawns (yours or your opponent's)
Be careful when doubling rooks because it takes valuable time to move them around again.
To clarify what bjazz said, an open file is one with no pawns. A half-open file is one where you do not have a pawn but your opponent does.
I have no idea what a rook lift is.
rook lift is simply moving the rook forwards, either to double the rooks or to move the rook to a better square (usually to take a tour around pawnstructures).
Ok, thanks for all the comments. I can understand why rook lifts take time and are therefore risky, and from what I understand, keeping them on the same rank is better than keeping putting on the same file (which requires a lift anyway, right?)
Really, a half-open file is one where my opponent has a pawn but I don't? So that would mean that a half-open file is not player-independent? It is half open for one side but not the other?
Anyway, I guess the main idea I was questioning, is whether it is a good idea to advance a rook pawn, with the rook staying behind it - not so much to lift the rook, but to create a protected advanced pawn. Apparently this isn't usually a good idea. Is trying to create a passed passed pawn on the rook file a no-no?
just advancing a pawn doesnt do much of anything...protected or not. when you advance pawns really far they tend to get swarmed and just lost. usually you have more important things to do. in most openings there will be some open file somewhere and its mroe economical jsut to castle and get the rooks on a file the easy way...occasionally this is hard for some reason and thats when you tend to see this rook pawn advance method of developing the rook.
you should be able to get your a1 rook into play. develop your queenside. If you arent developing your queenside then that even worse than not getting the rook into play.
There is another point to consider in all of this...unlike the other pieces, rooks hit the same number of squares no matter where they are (on an open board). So centralizing them is not necessarily as crucial.
yeah heh i noticed that also tony, however its still nice to get them attackign the center if for no other reason than just to discourage enemy non rook pices from using it :P
Well sure...I just mean they can be pretty effective from the first rank (you don't have to move them out into the midst of things).
Unfortunately these sorts of questions really tend to underscore the "General" in "General Chess Discussion"... :)
It's not something you would undertake as an early strategy. For your Rook-pawn to become passed, you must eliminate the opposing Rook- AND Knight-pawns. This happens so rarely as to be nearly impossible.
As to the unmoved Ra1 (a8), don't worry about him so much! The Rooks are known as "heavy" pieces; it is difficult to know where they will be best deployed early. They need open files to show their power, so until you have some open or half-open files to put them on or a good idea which file may open soon, it may pay to wait so you don't waste time moving them a second time to get where they could have moved at once.
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