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Bishop and pawns Vs Rook and pawns endgame

  • #1

    How would you handle a game that came to this ending?







    In the game, played about 5 years ago, White played 81. Rf8 and after 81... b2?? 82. Rb8, I ended up winning the game. But what would you do in this position were Black to play 81... h5? How does White win here? Also, does the strategy of the position change if Black plays instead 81...h6?

    When I first analyzed this position, i found White could win in 61 moves. Later, it came to 29 moves. Other replies brought the total to between 6 and 16 moves. This has been a real test for me to determine how well I can analyze an ending without an engine and to see whether my endgame play and tactics has improved significantly.

    Feel free to give your ideas on how White can win in this ending as well as some examples of your own games involving similar endings.

  • #2

    That is an excellent way to play the game there but what if Black plays instead Bc4, holding the advanced b pawn?

  • #3

    Perhaps Black does get best play on the move with either 1... h5 or 1... h6.

  • #4

    The move h5 was my idea for possible best play for Black in view of these considerations:

    1. White will eliminate the f7 pawn in order to have a passer later. Without removing the pawn, Black can actually stop the e pawn on the simplification.
    2. This move gives Black the h7 square to move to if White adopts the idea of Kf6 following the Rxf7+ move, that is to say that on any 8th rank check, Black goes to h7
    3. If White errs and plays gxh6, Black can get minimally a draw in the position by eliminating all the pawns.

    Still, this would not be an easy ending to achieve. So what happens for Black if he plays instead the h6 advance, offering the pawn without the en passant capture and also allowing for either the h5 push or hxg5 if White declines the capture as he should here to keep Black contained?

  • #5

    Powerlevel_9001 in your line, could Black not simply play 4... Bd5 and we get the line posted in #4 without the h5 move?

  • #6

    So what happens if Black does play 1... h6?

    Perhaps simply winning the f7 pawn, isolating the b3 pawn then sacrificing Rook for Bishop at the right time is White's best line to promote the e6 passer here.

  • #7

    Based upon the position, following the 1. Rf8 move, Black has at best 6 solid replies depending on the ideas that he wishes to pursue:

    1. ... Bb7
    2. ... Bc6
    3. ... Bc4
    4. ... Be4
    5. ... h6
    6. ... h5

    These moves are not given in any particular order but simply were the candidate moves found to accomplish any significant objective for Black.

    First, let's look at what 1... Bb7 does for the Black position. Black falsely tries to create an interfering piece to allow the b pawn to advance. This however fails to 2. Rf7+ Kg8 3. Kf6 when Black will have to reposition the Bishop at c6, allowing 4. Rc7 with mating threats and an ability to get behind the b pawn again.

    1... Bc6 will help create interposition on any back rank checks but does it hold up? Consider the line 2. Rxf7+ Kg8 3. Kf6 b2 and now 4. Rc7 Be8 5. Rb7!! and Black givs up his advanced pawn.

    Next is 1. ... Bc4, which maintains the pawn on b3 despite the check on f7. 2. Rxf7+ Kg8 3. Kf6 Bd5 4. Rc7 and now Black must play either 4... h6 or 4... h5 to avoid the mate. either way, White simply captures on h6 here and the game simplifies into a win.

    1... Be4 is speculative in that it will do little to improve the position save protect the promoting square, though White can punish Black by 2. Rxf7+ Kg8 3. Kf6 Bf5 4. Rb7 h5 5. gxh6 Bc2 6. Rb8+ Kh7 7. Kg5 and Black can resign here.

    Later we will discuss the h6 and h5 pawn moves and why they will work here as opposed to after the Rf7+

  • #8

    So in the last post, we examined 4 moves with the Bishop that White can still win against with proper play. we will conclude this section by looking at the only other viable move(s) for Black following 1. Rf8. These moves are

    1. 1... h6
    2. 1... h5

    What is the objectives behind these moves?

    First, Black will eliminate all threats of back rank mate attacks and second, he is setting a trap where if 2. gxh6 on either move, Black not only escapes danger but can actually win or draw the position. Therefore, we have to consider two primary ideas as White here:

    • Finding an opportune time to take the pawn or,
    • Get the position locked down to where the Bishop and King are forced to move until White can reach the b3 with his King and the Rook can rest on d6, eventually sacrificing the Rook for the Bishop, winning the b3 pawn and protecting his newly created passed pawn.

    First, we look at 1... h6. Knowing the pawn cannot be captured with the King on g7, we continue with the 2. Rxf7 Kg8 plan we have used all along here. Even here, Can White safely take on h6? Black will play 3... b2 when White is now forced to play 4. Rf8+ Kh7 5. Rb8 to stop the promotion and after 5... Kxh6 6. Kf6 Kh5 and even if White plays 7. Rh8+ there follows 7... Kg4 8. Rb8 Kxh4 and Black can at least draw if not win here and Black is preventing Rg2 with the placement of his d5 Bishop should White be thinking of trying for Rg2 at some point.

    What if instead, White collects the blockader to his passed pawn (f7) and resets on b8 with the Rook? This line would be 3. Rf8+ Kg7 4. Rb8. Now Black can take the pawn, advance to h5 or move to f7. 4... hxg6 and 4... h5 lock the position up and make for the King going between g7, f7 and eventually e7 when the White King moves to stop the b3 pawn. This becomes the best defense barring an h pawn capture by White. here is the line that wins forcing from 1... h6

    So is h5 any better? No. This simply locks the position down and still allows the same ending to occur quicker.

    This ending was from a game I played some 6 years ago and I use this to attempt to guage how well I can analyze technically complex or precise endgames. It makes for better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses here and I would recommend if you have certain positions you remember from your own games to look at them then look again after you have played more and see how much your endgame assessment has either increased or decreased. Either way, you should see some difference as you continue along as well.

  • #9

    This ending is an elementary win.

    1. Rf8 h6

    2. Rxf7+ Kg8

    3. Rf8+ Kg7

    4. Rb8 Bc4

    5. Rb7 Bd5

    6. Rb4

    And wins, because Black is in zugzwang. He must either give up the b-pawn or allow 7. Kf6.


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