Combinations involving the back rank
The theme of the weakness of the first (eight) rank often crops up in games, so the study of these types of mating combinations is particularly profitable.
Typical preconditions for such combinations are:
- No escape hole in the castled position;
- Weakness of the back rank;
- An open file, down which the major pieces (the principal actors in these combinations) can function;
- A far advanced passed pawn, which may be promoted to a Queen
In combinations involving the back rank, no sacrifices are too great for the attacking side to secure that deadly check on the eighth rank for its major pieces. Deflection and the double attack are the most important elements in these combinations.
We may ask overselves: "If combinations involving the back rank are so dangerous, then why don't we make a bolthole in the castled position in good time?"
There are three reasons:
- We are short of time and don't want to waste time;
- A bolthole weakens the castled position;
- We want to bring our Rook into the attack via the 3rd rank.
But sometimes we are playing with fire...
Sometimes a back rank combination 'only' leads to a gain of material.
The following masterpiece is one of the most beautiful combinations in the history of chess and illustrates the power combinations involving the back rank.