Intriguing Rook Pawn Ending

Dec 17, 2009, 12:04 AM |

The problem with looking back at games 20 years after the fact is that it's hard to remember what you were thinking.  I look back on the following game and am now amazed at the ending.  Well, I'll let you take a look at the game before I say any more:

Let's look at some key positions in the game:

Here's the position after 43. Ra3.  If you were black, what would you do?  You're a pawn up, but how do you convert that into a win?  Do you play Kg5 and later push the f-pawn?  Do you play Rd3 and hope your opponent makes a mistake and trades rooks?  Or do you do like I did and play Ke5, completely abandoning the f5 pawn on the next move?  Did I really work out the entire 13 move sequence starting at move 43?  I wish I knew.

Here's the position after 45. Rxf5.  Black to play and win (at this point, I don't think white can do anything to stop black from winning).

Here's the position afer 48. Kxf2.  From here, I do give myself credit for knowing how to finish from here.  One false step on move 48 and white salvages the draw.

When I went over this game a couple days ago, I reached a point in the game where I thought it was a draw for sure.  The fact that I pulled it out impressed me.  It also worries me - if I have to be able to play that well to get back to where I was, maybe I should just quit now.