Depth and Subtlety in Rook Endings is Mind Blowing

Depth and Subtlety in Rook Endings is Mind Blowing

May 22, 2016, 8:49 AM |

Resuming my study on Chess Informant's Rook Endings II, I was oustanded at the depth and logic behind a position A. Cheron published in 1944. Literally I could write every blog entry about each position in this book and fill pages upon pages. 


Rook Endings are the one aspect of Chess where I feel I'm awakened to ideas in Chess that I never considered. It's true imagination. It's hard, but if it was easy, everyone would do it.


This is from Diagram 205 of Chess Informant's Rook Endings II


The key motifs here is Black's attempt to get in front of the White pawn to draw.

White's King will attempt to march up the board to drive the Black Rook away from attacking frontally the pawn.

He must proceed carefully up the board, not allowing the Black King to then get behind the pawn to threaten the White Rook's support from c1.

White's King will move up the board, dodging checks but threatening to help the pawn advance.

The Black Rook will then attempt to control the 4th rank once it can't check from the front. This will force the White Rook behind the c-pawn.

Black's Rook will then check along the c-file to temporarily blockade the pawn. 

Black's King will critically have to pick the square that both allows him to threaten the block the White King, get closer to being in front of the pawn but also not allow himself to be driven back.

The White King, in attempting to drive away the blockading Rook, will have to allow the Black King to get in front of the pawn, since it is moving towards the Rook. 

Black to Move and Draw

Any Black Rook move along the 8th rank allows c4, and the Black King is cut off too many files.

Any Black Rook move along the c-file cuts down the checking distance along files, allowing the White King knock away the Black Rook after his Rook defends at c1.

This leaves the choice of Black with either 1. ... Kg3 or 1. ... Kg5. What are the differences between the two moves?

Why does 1. ... Kg3 lose?

Ultimately the Black King must attempt to get in front of the White pawn. Should he drift from behind, then when White's King gets to d4 to evict the Black Rook from c3, the Black King won't be able to take advantage of the White's King retreat to the c-pawn by getting in front of the pawn.

Why does 1. ... Kg5 draw?

1. ... Kg5 draws because the Black Rook gets in front of the pawn, but also he defends f6 from the White Rook manuevre from f6-c6 guarding the pawn.
The White King will attempt to get to c7 to drive the Black Rook away, upon which the Black Rook comes to d4 to prevent the pawn advance.
This will drive the White Rook to c1 to defend the pawn.
The Black King will critically go to f5 to threaten both blocking the White's King entry to d5. Should the White King go further towards the Black Rook, then that will allow the Black King time to get in front of the pawn and draw.

Some Interesting Sub Variations
Why is Ke4 a win, but Ke5 a draw?
Ultimately the difference between the win and the draw is White's control of f3, preventing the Black King from going behind the pawn.

Another Interesting Sub Variation.
Why is ... Kf5 the only move to draw?

What is White's Winning Plan?
White's King marches up the board and wins because Black's King is too far from getting in front of the pawn. 
After Black's Rook attempts to prevent the pawn advance from the 4th rank, White's Rook defends from behind the pawn.
Importantly, White's King will both shoulder the Black King from getting in front of the pawn, and at the same time gain time to drive the Black Rook away.
Once the c-pawn advances to c4, White will cut off the Black King by 2 files to ensure the win.