We have been looking at KRP vs KR positions where the Pawn is a far as away as possible from it's goal. Winning chances are good if the Pawn is a b or c Pawn and the defending King is far enough away. What happens if the extra Pawn is a Rook Pawn?
Well, it goes without saying that the defending King has got to be a country mile from the action for White to even think of having a win. If the defending King is confined to the h-file and the extra Pawn is on a2, as shown below, White to move wins with most King placements along the h-file. If we move things even one file closer it's theoretically drawn.
With the King on h8, the easiest plan to make progress is to use the Rook to support the Pawn from a1 when the right time comes. This is possible because the defending King is far enough away that co-ordination with its Rook is nonexistent. I give two lines. One is me playing against the computer, and the other is a line of best play.
This position isn't difficult if you know the right idea. If you try something else, it becomes more difficult. Some ideas that might seem good don't work. For example, if you tried to play Rg4 and then push to a4 you will fall into a draw.
As has become a theme in this series, different King placements for the defending side usually mean a different plan to win the game. If we put Black's King on h2 instead of h8, White to move wins in 41 with best play. If you saw previous examples, you might easily guess how.
Yes, it's that idea of keeping the King confined to the back of the board. Since the extra Pawn is a Rook Pawn, it's necessary to be mindful of checks from the side. The easiest way to avoid unnecessary harassment is to place your Rook on the rank where you want your King. This strategy works if the defending King is in the rear of the board and outside the "square" of the advancing Pawn. In the foregoing example, do note the King and Rook co-ordination, despite their distance from each other.
Okay. That's about all I have to say about this subject. No sense getting into any fuzzy details about this or that nuance. The real value of these examples is the strategic tools they uncover. After you play through a few positions, you might find you get a sense of whether you should wait with the Rook or go out for a King walk; or perhaps whether or not you should push the pawn.
Take the starting positions in these examples and play them against a computer. Start with the easiest ones and work up in difficulty. Use those positions like warm-up exercises before a tournament or other event. If you botch it and end up with something drawn, switch sides and see if you can hold it.
In the future, as you walk around the tournament hall and look at other games, you will probably see Rook and Pawn endgames in progress. Now you can view them with better eyes.