Inch by Inch, Row by Row

  • WIM childrenandchess
  • | Jul 6, 2011

This article is by WIM Alexey Root.

  The Garden Song begins, "Inch by inch, row by row. Gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake and a hoe." In the two-rook checkmate, one rook is the rake, one is the hoe. And soon the garden will be under the rooks' control and the enemy king checkmated. The rooks are a powerful team. The rake and the hoe take turns conquering each row. Or, in chess terms, each rank or each file. But enough talk, let's get this garden growing!


In the starting position, we have a king on e1. We don't need to use him to complete our checkmate. The "rake" rook on a1 and the "hoe" rook on h1 have enough gardening power to cultivate the enemy king.

Let's look at the same rooks in action along the files instead.

So let's summarize the rules of gardening.

1) Use your rake rook to control a rank or a file. Decide which way your rows will grow.

2) Use your hoe rook on the next adjacent rank (or file) to further drive the enemy king to the edge of the garden.

3) Don't put an unprotected rook next to the king to try to get control of the next rank (or file). Instead, move the rook several squares away and take control on the next move.

Here is your quiz position.


  • 2 years ago


    Basic but one of those items that needs to be covered.

  • 3 years ago


    I think it's very helpful Looking at the basic mating patterns just to keep your mind's eye sharp.

  • 4 years ago


    nice analogy for this mating pattern. I've heard staircase and sweep before but not the garden rake and hoe.  

  • 4 years ago


    This chess lesson is simple, yet demonstrative.

  • 5 years ago


    They say that Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers of his time (and still unsurpassed by Tiger - but that's my opinion on a different game), began preparing for each season by having his golf instructor start with the basics.  In golf the basics are grip and stance.  The point is that I am 63, and I thoroughly enjoyed the lesson.  I am not above re-learning the basics.  Great job!

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    Thank you for the article!

  • 5 years ago


    very nice.

  • 5 years ago


    this was very helpful. i just started playing chess a couple of months ago.

  • 5 years ago


    Good lesson for chess beginners - now could you write one to inspire me to use a real rake and hoe in my yard?Laughing

  • 5 years ago


    Instructive for beginners! Good stuff

  • 5 years ago


    Welcome aboard, Alexis.

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


     I think I'm in the wrong room.

  • 5 years ago

    WIM childrenandchess

    cookie3 thanks for your comment. You are correct that this lesson is for beginners, especially for children who are beginners. I've found that many six- to eight-year-olds will hang (lose) one of their two rooks when trying to complete the two-rook checkmate. So this instruction is to help them complete the checkmate successfully.

  • 5 years ago


    Very good and entertaining lesson!

  • 5 years ago


    @ monk3y:     Please remember to read the author's name.  This column definately seems geared toward youngsters and beginner's to the game.  I believe she was teaching a lesson in a way that would be easy to remember, no doubt I will always remember it!  I believe this is the first such article of its nature (at least that I have seen). 

    Thank you for the article!  I knew the lesson, but never heard explained so.  I found very entertaining, and was smiling when i finished!  Smile(still smilin!)

  • 5 years ago


    Thats a bit too basic i think. Anyone who knows the rules can win with two rooks vs a lone king

  • 5 years ago

    WIM childrenandchess

    Mischa, thanks for your comment! "Inch by Inch, Row by Row" are lyrics from a children's song too. Just search YouTube for "Garden Song John Denver" to hear one version of it.

  • 5 years ago


    I like this analogy you use very much.  It has a discriptive quality which connects both rooks with they're respective duties very well.  I have seen or read many other explanations, but yours is my new found favourit.  Thankyou.

Back to Top

Post your reply: