Typical Rook Endgames

  • GM dbojkov
  • | May 18, 2012

(Four versus Three on the Same Flank: Part 2-Defense) 

In the previous article we saw the dangers that the defender faces in these seemingly easy endgames.

If you remember, the main one was that the strong side might create a passed pawn in the center, and then combine threats against the remaining two pawns with the further advance of the passer.

Logically, we come to the most important part for the weaker side- the choice of the correct defensive set up.

1) The Classical Set Up

This is when you place your rook pawn on the fourth (fifth) rank (h4 or h5 if you play as Black), the g-pawn one step behind it for support, and leave the f pawn on the second (seventh) rank.

Thus, you take away the sting of the plan of the creation of a passed pawn from your opponent, as they will have to trade too many pawns in order to achieve a passer. Pawn exchanges are always useful for the defender:

2) Huebner's Set Up
This defensive stand is similar to the Classical one, with the only difference being the more aggressive advance of the f pawn. Please, note though, that it is not always effective. If the king of the strong side is active, the position of the pawn on f4(f5) might in fact be lethal for the defender, as the king can march on the weakened squares to wrap up the game. An active rook which keeps the king busy would help:
Not everything is lost if you cannot advance your corner pawn to the fourth(fifth) rank. It is good enough if you have rook control on that rank, as you might be able to support the advance, or force other trades as in this case:
If the strong side manages to fix your rook pawn on the sixth (third) or seventh (second) rank, the situation becomes extremely complex, but a successful defense is still possible. You will need though some more advanced tips, and they will be the subject of another article. The most important and basic set-ups were given here already, and the main ideas- pawn trades and active rook highlighted.
3) With Damaged Pawns
I would also like to add, that if the pawn on the g-file has moved to the f-file, and the defender has doubled f-pawns instead of f+g+h, this usually does not change the evaluation of the position as an objective draw. In this case the defender has additional convenient squares for the king on the g-file, and can still trade a lot of pawns to liquidate into a theoretically drawn endgame:
One thing is for certain, even if something goes wrong and you lose a pawn, there are always chances that you liquidate into a defendable rook endgame. These ones are good enough to hold.
Successful defense!


  • 4 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    hello guys,

    Hi Mr.Bojkov .. very nice to read your article ..

    For other comments

    Yes, I agree explaning each move is very time consuming for Mr.Bojkov, but I have some tips which might help you get them better:

    1- Put the positions in fritz or any engine and play them against it.. take back and try different moves.

    2-google the 3 sets names, i am sure others wrote about it too.

    3- finally, read the attack article for Mr.Bojkov too, it will help you get an idea what are these 3 sets preventing.

  • 5 years ago


    hope i can remember all this!, good advice

  • 5 years ago


    Thank you for the endgame studies! I hope we have more of them soon!

  • 5 years ago


    Nice article.

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    Another interesting example showcasing some of the attacking and some of the defensive rook endgame techniques discussed in this pair of articles is

    Gelfand - Kramnik (Tal Memorial, 2009), starting on move 48:


  • 5 years ago

    GM dbojkov

    melogibbo, this is the idea to study the concepts of the endgames. At the end you are tired and low on time, but if you know how to arrange the pieces things should be a lot easier.

     Thanks, Berder for the information, but I guess that I have probably just added the info in the pgns and this might be the reason why it does not appear in the text.

    Thanks again for the positive comments!

  • 5 years ago


    interesting, pretty technical, unfortunately by this point in the game i'm probably up against the clock and rely on instinct!
    Maybe one day this type of play will become second nature! 

  • 5 years ago


    Good article, well explained.

    P.S., some of the comments you made show up in the PGN, but not when viewing the board.  Whenever you place a comment at the very start of a variation it does not show up.  For example this comment does not show up: ( { Black cannot keep the extra pawn in case of: } 65...fxg4.

  • 5 years ago


    Great article showing how even in endgames, where material advantages are felt the most, proper technique can overcome seemingly deficient positions.

    Very well written and explained.

  • 5 years ago


    very nice

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    good point some times challange me

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago

    WGM Evmolpia

    Well done! Wink

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