Rook Endgame Essentials - Part 3

Rook Endgame Essentials - Part 3‎

GM TheGadfly1897
6 | Endgames

Hi guys! It is been a while since my last post - "Rook Endgame Essentials - Part 2". It is time to enhance our understanding. In this article, we are going to cover the third part of the rook endgame essentials.
Let's begin with an example where the black king is cut off only by one file from the white king. That is the most elementary draw. As we will, see there is no way for White to improve the position and kick the black king away from the c-file.
This time, the black king is cut off by two files. But the evaluation doesn't change - it is still an easy draw! White has only one plan to get his king out of the corner - that is to bring the rook to b8, throw the black rook away from the b-file, and then play Ka8-b7. In this case, it is unattainable since whenever the white rook leaves the c-file, Black is on time to bring his king to c7 or c8, reaching Example 1!
Let's consider a situation when black's king is cut off by three files! Would that be finally winning? NO! That is still a draw! The principle remains the same: in order to win, White has to bring the rook to b8, but it turns out that the black king is once again on time to reach c7 or c8 squares before the white rook touches b8!
Alright! So, what is the evaluation if the black king is cut off by four files? This time, it turns out that this is enough to win. The white rook has enough to time to be re-routed to b8 before the black king touches the c-file.
Here, I prepared a game between two strong GMs from the French league 2016. I was following this game in person as I was on the same team with Christian Bauer. The only difference between the examples above and this game is reversed colors. This time, Black tries to win! Other than that, all the ideas hold true here as well!
From the previous articles, do you remember the Philidor position or that passive defence draws versus "b" or "g" pawns? Here is somewhat an interesting example. It is a b-pawn but White has two of them. It turns out that if Black fails to set up the defence according to Philidor, it is lost. Therefore, passive defence against "b" and "g" pawns doesn't save the day if the strong side has two pawns! The winning plan is simple: exchange rooks by sacrificing one of the pawns (here the idea is Rc6, b7, Rc8+) and promote the remaining pawn. The only thing to be careful about is the stalemate idea. Refer to the analyses below to check on your own!
Another example on this subject. This time, White has two double pawns, but in the center, which makes Black's task even more difficult. However, if Black manages to set up the Philidor defence, it can be drawn! Black's plan is the following: wait with the rook on the 6th rank until kicked out, and then immediately target the least advanced of the white pawns (in this case, the pawn on d4). Whenever the white king leaves the d4-pawn undefended, we take it and transpose into the Philidor position - method 2 (rook behind the passed pawn). If, instead, White pushes d5-d6, we immediately make our rook long and start checking from the rear. The white king would no longer have the d6-square to hide from checks!
Another position that everyone must know.
Here is a bit more complicated version of the previous example. The problem is the following: White's plan is to bring the king to a7, liberate the rook and promote the a-pawn. Black cannot bring the king to the queenside because of the SKEWER method (see Part 2 of the series). Thus, the only way to prevent White's plan is to transfer the rook to f6 to target the white pawn from the side. As we already know from the previous position, whenever the white king touches the pawn, we start checking and throw the king away. If White plays a6-a7, then we immediately bring our rook behind the pawn! Having played a6-a7, White no longer has the a7-square for his king, and thus, the draw is trivial; Black can just keep waiting with the rook behind the passed pawn and give checks whenever the white king touches the pawn.
Thanks for following and stay tuned for the Part 4 of the Rook Endgame Essentials series!

More from GM TheGadfly1897
Rook Endgame Essentials - Part 4

Rook Endgame Essentials - Part 4

Rook Endgame: The Principles

Rook Endgame: The Principles