Rook Endgame Training: Averbakh - Euwe, Zurich 1953

Rook Endgame Training: Averbakh - Euwe, Zurich 1953

Aug 21, 2015, 8:31 PM |

What makes endgames so difficult for me is this feeling of needing to strike first.


Through opening play we learn to value the tempo ... every move counts to make threats, make our attack quicker and strive for the initiative.


Then suddenly upon reaching the endgame everything changes ... slowly improve King position, think in schemes, create that passed pawn.


It's much like these two pictures of golf ... it's the same game but they're totally different skill sets. 

Averbakh-Euwe, Zurich 1953: White to Move 



Chess Endgame Training - Rosen Exercise 16.14  


Spend some time to consider how you would proceed for White, then compare the incorrect scheme I took as well as the game continuation and ideas this exercise revealed to me.


What Not to do (which is what I did)


The lesson I learnt through my mistake was
* Appreciate the value of the distant passed pawn ... don't trade it too quickly for Black's g-pawn
* Don't assume your opponent has to make an exchange (... Rxg5 was not forced as I assumed) ... I missed the resource of Ra8 to defend the h-pawn via Rh8 or the skewer

Stage One of Plan: Use the White King to help the a-pawn progress



Had I valued the strength of the a-pawn, that would have lead me to consider 1. Kc2


Valuable is the quote "White chooses a possibility that avoids any risk".


White's King exploits that Black's Rook can only attack from behind from 4 squares.


Should White capture g6 now?


To answer this seemingly innocent question, consider the two positions below


Position 1 with the White King on b2 and Black to move



In the above position, Black can cut off the White King by ... Rc5. By not being able to cross the c-file, the White King can not participate in the advance of his Kingside pawns.


Position 2 with the White King on c2 and Black to move



In the above position, Black can not cut the White King by Rc5 nor can he play ... Rd5 due to Rd3 entering a winning pawn endgame. White's King can assist his Kingside pawns.


The Cut Off


This idea of the Rook cutting off the King from particapating in the action is the single most important lesson I took away from this example. 


Averbakh-Euwe, Zurich 1953: White to Move 

The actual game continuation.

* Get the most out of your passed pawn. Don't exchange it off too quickly.
* Use of White's King to help the White pawn advance.
* Recognising the possibility of being cut off from participating on the Kingside (difference between White King placement at b2 and c2).
* Defensive ideas of Ra2 skewer and Ra8-h8.
* Taking the squares away from the defensive Rook.
* The Black Rook must continually threaten the a-pawn or give White's King a check, otherwise White's Rook gets g6 for free.
* Timing of the exchange of the Black g6 pawn for the White a5 pawn under favourable circumstances for White.