Hello everybody! I am GM Levan Aroshidze from Georgia. FIDE elo 2565. Currently living in Spain. I am combining chess coaching with professional play and time after a time I'll try to share my experience in my blogs. Hope you will enjoy it. My articles will have different levels, but I'll always try to explain them with easy language to make it easier to understand for everybody. My first article will be about skills of Rook
In every book for the beginners we can read that Rooks need open files and they would be very active if they can enter in the 7th or 2nd rank. It would cut opponent's King or simply attack a lot of pawns. It is very comfortable position for the Rook. But for example there are no open files. Do we have some other possibilities to use Rook's power and activate it? Yes! there is one trick that I want to show you. Let's start from simple example:
Next position is from my own practice from 2012. I was playing with white against very talented WGM Deysi Cori and got quite promising position after the opening:
White has pair of bishops and much better pawn structure. Backward e6 pawn is serious problem for Black and a6 bishop belongs to category of "bad bishops" as some of black pawns are fixed on same color. I remember that I spent here a lot of time, because intuition was telling that there should be something very good and concrete, but I failed to find it. Everything became clear during quick home analysis:
Answer was so easy. Rook activation from 3rd rank! I was very angry on myself because this is one of the themes that I always explain to my pupils. Now white increases pressure over opponent's position. Threat is Ra3 or doubling on the e file. Let's see a bit how game could continue:
After one year I got symbolic chance to improve my mistake against the same opponent.
Of course White's pawn structure is bad, but dynamic factors are in their favor: development, activity, initiative and of course pair of bishops and weak dark squares. Maybe after 5-6 moves Black can coordinate pieces, for example: a6-a5, b7-b6, Ba6, so we need to develope initiative. It is logical to double Rooks on open d file, but how to do it? Rd2? Rd3? Rd6? And solution becomes clear:
This move has multiple functions. Doubling the Rooks and getting space to the King's side via 3rd rank. Position quickly became very difficult for Black.
Next position is also quite simple for evaluation - White is definitely better, but how to continue?
One of the most logical moves should be 27. Bd4 keeping the eye on target f6 and offering Rook exchange. We could immediately play it as nothing bad can happen for us, but if we want to be strong players and achieve progress, - we must always calculate all reasonable answers before we play even most obvious move. So, let's imagine position after Bd4 and think about opponent's answers. looks like they can exchange Rook and or play 27... Rf5. After exchange everything looks clear as we keep initiative and Black still has to protect f6 pawn, but what about Rf5? That's interesting try for black to keep more pieces at the board and try to compensate bad pawn structure with piece activity. Next step could be c7-c5 pushing back white bishop and entering Rd3. There's nothing more to lose for Black in strategical case, so they will look for dynamical play. Of course it can't give 100% equality to Black but it's quite interesting try that needs concrete solution. So, what will be most accurate way to neutralize opponent's intention?
Rook climbs up on the 4th rank in front of own pawns! now after
28... c5 29. Be3 Rd3 30. Rc4
There is no any threat and white Rook on c4 becomes super-active piece. It protects c3 and a4, attacks c5 and also can give decisive checks from g4 after Rb8!
In the game Black decided to exchange the Rooks:
27... Re1+ 28. Re1 Kg7
So what now? We always have to try to activate all our pieces and everytime improve their positions. Especially in strategic type of positions.
Again fourth rank! From here Rook creates many threats.
Very important move and generally very important resource in the endgames. Now it's time for king's coming to the center. Anyway Black has no active plan.
Looks very natural but it loses almost by force.
In the next position white has positional advantage due to better pawn structure, but chess is separated into positional and dynamical play. Black perfectly understands that as positionally he has some problems, - then it is better to search his chances in active/dynamical play.
18... Rb5! Rook goes to d5 square to increase activity of Black pieces. again we see this Magical Rook trick!
19. Nc4 ? even worse would be 19. Rad1? Rd5! 20. Qa7 Ng4 21. h3 Nf2 22. Rf2 Bc5 with winning position. best move would be 19. Qe4!? with idea of: 19... Nd3 20. Bd4 Rf4 21. Qa8+ Rf8 22. Qe4 trying to hold on.
19... Rd5 20. Qe4 Nd3 21. Nd6
Hope this article will help to explore additional possibilities of the very powerful piece - Rook. In the end I'll give you pair of puzzles to solve.