Part 1: The Elements
3. The Seventh and Eighth Ranks
1. Introduction, general comments
Infilitration of the 7th and 8th ranks was the objective and product of play down a file. The 7th and 8th rank occupation is normally an "endgame advantage", since we don't tend to see their occupation until late on in the game. Dispite this, you should try and get into your opponents back rank as soon as it possible. If you should find that once your Rook is behind enemy lines that it cannot do anything (or is lost even), then in no way must you lose heart over this.
The well-honed 7th and 8th rank possession is as much a weapon as it is a tool for checkmating. It can become a very strategic element of endgames and in fact is probably more so used here than it is for mating patterns.
It is vital that you get used to functioning on the 7th rank in that you have a particular object of attack from the start. It is typical of amateurs to get there without a goal in mind. The object will usually be a pawn or a square.
2. Convergent and revolutionary attacks on the 7th rank
If our object of attack starts to flee, the Rook should attack it from behind.
If our Rook is on the 7th rank and is attacking the c7 pawn, and the pawn should go ...c5, then the Rook should be placed on c7 as opposed to moving along its own file to rank 5. Why? Consider the following:
1. You should try and occupy the 7th rank for as long as possible since new targets may appear on it.
2. Flanking manoeuvres (such as Rc7 above) are considered a stronger form of attack than say frontal attacks or attacks from the side.
3. Attacking from behind would stifle the opponents attempt at defence. (If attaking from the side, the opponent would have ...Rc8 for example).
3. The five special cases in the 7th rank
- The 7th rank "absolute" and passed pawns
- Doubled Rooks give perpetual check
- The drawing apparatus of Rook & Knight
- Marauding raid on the 7th rank.
- Combined play in the 7th and 8th ranks (flanking from the corner)
2nd Case: Draw via perpetual check
3rd Case: Perpetual check with Knight and Rook
1. The King being attacked wants to remain in contact with the nearest of the rooks that are attempting to "flank" him. The Rooks that are pushing the flanking maneouvre will want to detatch themsleves from the Kings contact.
2. The King will head for the corner, the attackers must drive the King away from that corner.
White can look at three types of manoevre:
a) Gain in material
b) A mating pattern derived by breaking the White-Rook - Black King contact.
a) Gain in material, we have seen in the above example
The Mating combination is achieved by either protecting the Rook on g7 (b7 if it happens on other side of board), or moving the King from f8 by checks that keep the rook on g7.
c) Tempo Gaining
From this day forth, when attacking, you must decide between options a, b or c and confidently know which is the sort of attack you should employ for your endeavour.
Some games for your contemplation: