Rook Endings: Following Rubinstein 2
Good time of day to you, my dear chess friends. It's been awhile since I updated this mini-series on practical rook endings (about 18 months). Last time, I showed a few rook endings played by Akiba Rubinstein where he converted an extra pawn with flawless technique. This time, I'll focus on games where he outplays his opponent on the basis of less obvious imbalances (king or rook activity, pawn weaknesses, more mobilized passed pawn). Before we continue this journey, I want to first include the 'solutions' to the positions I posted from my last tournament in the previous blog post.
So now that I have shown some of my favorite calculations from my last tournament, we can dive into Rubinstein's fascinating rook endgame play with two examples:
In the game against Selezniev, we saw Rubinstein turn a microscopic advantage in structure into an advantage in rook activity. This turned into the material win of a pawn after Black further weakened the position. Then the opponent made the decisive error of running the king away from the battle on the queenside at which point Rubinstein brought in the king to finish the job. One unstoppable passed pawn is all it takes to win, and the sacrifice of the h-pawn to coordinate the queenside push was as aesthetic as it was instructive. Against Canal, Rubinstein showed the themes that Capablanca had demonstrated five years prior against Tartakower, proving again that rook endames are all about the activity of both rook and king. Starting the rook ending down a pawn, White made use of a pawn break in the center to activate both remaining pieces to the maximum before decisively sacrificing a pawn to create an unstoppable passer combined with mate threats against Black's imprisoned king. In both games, we noticed how White managed to outplay the opponent from a seemingly balanced position. I hope you have found these two samples of rook endgame technique both instructive and entertaining. Thanks for reading!
Until next time.