Rook vs Knight Ending Compilation

Mar 5, 2014, 5:20 PM |

In the Pirc Defense group, we have an intense R vs 2 N and pawns ending, with pawns on both sides of the board.  To help me understand these types of endings, which I hear are very difficult to play from the Knights side, I am going to write this post about all Rook vs Knight endings

  • Rook vs Knight - pawnless
  • Rook and Pawns vs Knight + pawns 
  • Rook vs 2 Kights - no pawns
  • And building up towards Rook and 2 Knights with pawns on both sides

Since our side has the 2 Knights, I will lean most commentary towards that side, giving the scenarios that are more favorable, and why.

I will try to compile this from the view of 4 different ending books

  • Dvoretsky's
  • Silman's Endgame Course
  • Pandolfini's Endgame Course
  • Nunn's Understanding Chess Endgames

To start I will look at Rook vs Knight - to quote Pandolfini - "The horseman needs its majesty's aegis" or - Don't separate your Knight and King in general. And of course, knight on rim is dim. 

W: Ke5 Rc6 B: Kb5 Ne8

Rc8 Ng7 Rg8 etc


Alekhine - Vidmar 1937 Found this game in the masters database, while looking for the one from 1930
Knight on rim :(

Rook and Pawn vs Knight and pawn

When there are 3 vs 3 or even 2 vs 2 pawns then the R will win, however there are drawing chances when the weaker side has an extra pawn.

See the commentary for Kh3! intending g4 so the Knight can harrass better
So I should also mention, when there are no pawns, at any time white can usually play for only 2 outcomes, meaning they can sacrifice the rook for the final pawn and leave the weaker side with a knight or even 2 without the fear of losing. This makes the ending playing for a win increasingly more difficult with the Knights. With B+N its a different story all together.
Rook and pawns vs Knight and Pawns
Since the rook is more mobile, if there are pawns on both sides of the board, this obviously favors the Rook with a single Knight to defend, even with more pawns usually. Rook will just alternate to both sides of the board with threats. 
Rook and Pawns vs 2 Minors (Knights) + Pawns

I haven't found any good examples or this, but from what I can tell the general idea might be to try and get all the pawns on one side of the board, and keep the king close to both knights as much as possible.
Please Please Please comment and add more links and references to these types of endings! Keep them coming and I will update this post continually.