Essential Endgames: Rook & Pawn vs Rook (The Philidor Defence)
I introduced you to the Philidor (or Third Rank) Defence.vs
In this article, we'll examine the Philidor Defence in more detail.
Have a look at the diagram below. We've learned that, if it's White to move in the diagram postion, he can save the game. Pop quiz: What should White play to hold the draw?
Answer: White should play Rh3. Remember, he must prevent Black from bringing the Black king to the 6th rank in front of the Black pawn.
Let's refer back to that first diagram again. This might surprise you, but, if it's Black to move, our Third Rank Defence loses (so we need to play something else)!
To explain: With Black to move, Black can play his king to the 6th rank (to the rank) in front of his pawn (that is, Kb3!).
In other words, if White play Rh3+ with the Black king already on the 6th rank, he merely gives Black a tempo to: (1) block checks from the side; and (2) set up mating threats on the back rank.
Let's explain the above via a game sequence:
So how does White hold the draw? Let's have a look: