Rook and Other Endgames

Rook and Other Endgames

Get ready for some endgame training!

Would you like to improve your endgame play? Then this is the course for you! "Rook and Other Endgames" covers rook endings with some minor piece and queen endings included. Improve your endgame knowledge with IM Silman today!

Here is what you will learn:

  • Learn key rook endgame strategies!
  • Practice rook endgame tactics!
  • Learn how rooks interact with other pieces in the ending!

"Congrats Chess.com for this amazing product." - Chess.com member pawnsacrifice101

"I like this course. Good examples, clear explanations." - Chess.com member PetrBacak82

Rook versus pawn

Rook versus pawn

This type of endgame usually occurs when one side has to surrender his Rook for a dangerous enemy pawn. In Rook versus one pawn situations, the side with the Rook will always win if his King can get in front of the pawn. In this case, though, the White King is behind the enemy pawn. However, the win is still easy because the pawn and its King are not too far advanced.
4 Challenges
King and Rook versus pawn

King and Rook versus pawn

This type of endgame usually occurs when one side has to surrender his Rook for a dangerous enemy pawn. In Rook versus one pawn situations, the side with the Rook will always win if his King can get in front of the pawn. In this case, though, the White King is behind the enemy pawn. However, the win is still easy because the pawn and its King are not too far advanced. I should note that the win is even easier if the Black King is one rank back (on e6). To see just how easy, take a look at Variation Two.
5 Challenges
King and Rook vs. King and pawn

King and Rook vs. King and pawn

Though some things are against him, Black can still draw by making use of an important rule in King and Rook versus King and pawn endgames: The White King should always advance on the opposite side of the Black King. Advancing on the side of the King allows the enemy King to block you out, thus making a further advance difficult.
5 Challenges
King and Rook vs. King and two connected pawns

King and Rook vs. King and two connected pawns

If the Kings are too far away to play a role, a lone Rook can always stop two connected passed pawns unless they both reach the sixth rank or one reaches the seventh and the other is on the fifth. In the present position, Black's pawns are only on the sixth and fifth, thus White should win. See the Variation for the same position with Black to move.
4 Challenges
Rook and two pawns vs. Rook and pawn

Rook and two pawns vs. Rook and pawn

This is a tricky position because it can only be solved if you make use of several bits of knowledge. You must know that a Rook can stop two connected pawns if they are not both on the sixth rank (as seen in Variation One). You must also be aware that a King and pawn on the fifth rank can often draw against a Rook if the stronger sides King is far from the action. Finally, you will have to notice that blocking ideas and promotions with check can also materialize if you are not careful.
8 Challenges
King and Rook vs. King and two disconnected pawns

King and Rook vs. King and two disconnected pawns

A Rook can stop two disconnected pawns even if they both reach the seventh rank. Then the result depends on which King is closer to the action. In the present example, the White King is much closer to the pawns so White ends up with the victory.
7 Challenges
Rook and pawn on the fifth vs. Rook

Rook and pawn on the fifth vs. Rook

In general, a pawn (as long as it's not a Rook-pawn) on the fifth wins if the enemy King is cut off from the action by one file (confirming the rule that you should always trap the enemy King as far away from the action as possible) and the King is stuck on the long side of the board. If those conditions are met, the White King is able to advance down the board and eventually force a Lucena position.
8 Challenges
Lucena Position

Lucena Position

This is the single most important position in Rook endgames. The stronger side should always be striving to achieve this position and the defender must avoid it at all costs. First mentioned in a book by Salvio published in 1634 (!), the original analysis of this endgame has been attributed to Scipione Genovino at an earlier date. It is interesting to note that Lucena didn't mention this position in his book (published in 1497). Instead, he looked at some openings and also compared chess with feminism. Lucena felt they were both forms of warfare. Why this endgame got his name has never been clear.
7 Challenges
King and pawn versus King

King and pawn versus King

King and pawn versus a lone King is an extremely common endgame which must be understood completely. In general, if the defender's King can get in front of the pawn the game will be drawn with ease. The rule is as follows: jump in front of the pawn whenever possible. When you have to move out of its way, always go straight back with your King. The reason for this is that when the White King comes forward you can step in front of him and take the opposition. Repeat these steps until a stalemate results.
9 Challenges
Rook and Knight-pawn on the sixth vs. passive Rook

Rook and Knight-pawn on the sixth vs. passive Rook

In general, a pawn on the sixth combined with a passive Black Rook would be enough for White to win. However, in this case, the presence of a Knight-pawn enables Black to hold the game because the White Rook doesn't have enough room to swing over to the left.
3 Challenges
Rook and Bishop-pawn on fifth vs. Rook

Rook and Bishop-pawn on fifth vs. Rook

This kind of position will win for White if his pawn is on the fifth rank and if the Black King is trapped a file away on the long side. Unfortunately (from White's perspective), in the present problem the Black King is on the short side and that fact allows the Black Rook to get sufficient checking distance to draw.
4 Challenges
Philidor Position gone bad

Philidor Position gone bad

In a normal Philidor Position, the Black Rook would go to g6 and stop the White King from ever-advancing. However, in this position, the location of White's Rook makes this plan impossible. Though things may look bad for the second player, he can still draw by using his Rook in a very active but accurate manner.> Editor's note: Jeremy presents a drawing method from a famous study by Kling and Horwitz (1851). There are several other ways to draw this ending, but I believe that this one is the most useful to know and gives the most practical endgame knowledge bang for the study time buck.
12 Challenges
Philidor Position

Philidor Position

This type of situation (with the defending King in front of the enemy pawn) is known as a Philidor Position and is the second most important position in Rook endgames (the Lucena being the most important). You simply must know it! In general, if your King gets in front of the enemy pawn you should draw the game. However, there are ways to go wrong so knowledge of the correct technique is essential to all serious players.
5 Challenges
Rook and pawn on the fourth vs. Rook

Rook and pawn on the fourth vs. Rook

Though White wins if his pawn is on the fifth rank and if the King is trapped one file away from the action on the long side of the board, in this case, White's pawn is only on the fourth rank. This will be the only problem that deals with pawns below the fifth rank simply because the theory is too complicated for our present purposes. However, suffice it to say that White wins because he has trapped the enemy King two files away from the action on the long side of the board. The winning method consists of two parts: 1) Advance the King as far forward as possible; 2) Place the Rook behind the pawn and push it.
8 Challenges
Rook and Bishop-pawn on the sixth vs. passive Rook

Rook and Bishop-pawn on the sixth vs. passive Rook

If the enemy King is in front of the pawn (in a Rook and pawn versus Rook endgame) the game will be drawn unless the defending Rook is passively placed. In the present problem, the difference between Rooks is clear. Black's Rook is stuck on the first rank while White's is a threatening monster of death. In general, NEVER allow your Rook to get this passive! However, if White is left with a Rook-pawn or a Knight-pawn then the game will be drawn (if the defending King gets in front of the pawn) no matter how passively placed the Rook may be. For an example of this, see the Variation.
3 Challenges
Rook and center pawn on sixth vs. passive Rook

Rook and center pawn on sixth vs. passive Rook

If the enemy King is in front of the pawn (in a Rook and pawn versus Rook endgame) the game will be drawn unless the defending Rook is passively placed. In the present problem, the difference between Rooks is clear. Black's Rook is stuck on the first rank while White's is a threatening monster of death. In general, NEVER allow your Rook to get this passive! However, if White is left with a Rook-pawn or a Knight-pawn then the game will be drawn (if the defending King gets in front of the pawn) no matter how passively placed the Rook may be. For an example of this, see the Variation.
4 Challenges
Rook and center pawn vs. passive Rook

Rook and center pawn vs. passive Rook

If the enemy King is in front of the pawn (in a Rook and pawn versus Rook endgame) the game will be drawn unless the defending Rook is passively placed. In the present problem, the difference between Rooks is clear. Black's Rook is stuck on the first rank while White's is a threatening monster of death. In general, NEVER allow your Rook to get this passive! However, if White is left with a Rook-pawn or a Knight-pawn then the game will be drawn (if the defending King gets in front of the pawn) no matter how passively placed the Rook may be.
5 Challenges
Place Rooks Behind Passed Pawns!

Place Rooks Behind Passed Pawns!

One of the monster rules of Rook endgames states that you should always place your Rooks behind passed pawns. It doesn't matter who's passed pawn it is, just place your Rook behind it! In the present position, the game will swing on who follows this piece of advice. If Black has the move (which he does) he draws while White to move would win.
4 Challenges
Rook and pawn vs. active Rook behind passer

Rook and pawn vs. active Rook behind passer

Black has correctly placed his Rook behind the passed pawn (Variation One shows how important this concept is) and the Black King is closer to the action. One would think that this means that Black should draw and, under normal circumstances, it would. However, Black has committed a big sin here and allowed a very important trick. This trick must be thoroughly understood since you will eventually be on both sides of it.
4 Challenges
Passive Rook and two pawns vs. Rook

Passive Rook and two pawns vs. Rook

Usually, a two pawn advantage would easily win for White. However, in this position, the White Rook is so passive that nothing can be done to generate any serious winning chances (it would also be a draw if the g-pawn was an h-pawn. This shows you that, when your Rook is misplaced in front of your pawn, you should never advance your pawn to the seventh rank unless you have an instant win by doing so.
6 Challenges
Passive Rook, pawn on seventh and f-pawn vs. Rook

Passive Rook, pawn on seventh and f-pawn vs. Rook

This position wins for White because the f-pawn will force the Black King to a losing square. Variation One showed that a g-pawn or h-pawn would not help White but this problem demonstrates that an f-pawn, e, d, c or b-pawn all make the win easy (even though the White Rook is horribly placed).
4 Challenges
Passive Rook and pawn on sixth vs. Rook

Passive Rook and pawn on sixth vs. Rook

White wins this position because his King can take over guard duty of a6 and release the entombed White Rook. Normally Black would use his Rook to check the White King away from its pawn. However, now White's King has access to the a7- square and this allows his to hide from the checks and win the game.
8 Challenges
Rook and Rook-pawn on seventh vs. Rook

Rook and Rook-pawn on seventh vs. Rook

In this problem, the White pawn is one square away from Queening but its King is trapped in front of it, preventing the poor pawn from advancing. If the pawn was anything but a Rook-pawn, the game would be won for White (see a study of the Lucena Position in Variation One). However, since it's a Rook-pawn (which always presents problems for the stronger side) the only way White can win is to bring his Rook around to b8 or b7 and chase the Black Rook away so the King can get free. The following rule then becomes critical: White can only win if the enemy King is cut off on the farther Bishop file (five files away). In the present problem, we get to see White demonstrate the winning technique.
11 Challenges
Passive Rook and two pawns vs. Rook and one pawn

Passive Rook and two pawns vs. Rook and one pawn

If Black didn't own his f-pawn the game would be easily won for White (as proven in Variation One). A nice maneuver forces the win of the Black pawn when the rest is a piece of cake. The zugzwang maneuver that White employs is only possible if the defending King's g7- square and its pawn is one square apart. If the Black pawn was on f4 (instead of the games f5) and the White pawn on f3, the game would be drawn since the attacker would not be able to take away g7 and attack the pawn at the same time.
10 Challenges
Smyslov-Botvinnik, World Championship 1954

Smyslov-Botvinnik, World Championship 1954

This endgame would be confusing to most players, however a good understanding of Variations One and Two immediately tells you the dream positions that you would like to achieve. This shows that a working knowledge of basic situations allows you to easily solve otherwise difficult problems. In the position in question, Black must decide when to take on g5 and when to push his a- pawn to a2.
6 Challenges
Passive Rook and two connected pawns vs. Rook

Passive Rook and two connected pawns vs. Rook

Normally a two pawn advantage wins in a Rook and pawn endgame. When the material count is Rook and two connected passed pawns versus Rook one would think that the game is as good as over; normally they would be right! In this case, however, the White Rook is passively placed defending his b-pawn. This is quite unfortunate because the White pawns cannot advance and the White King has no way to hide from the upcoming series of checks. In general, then, we can say that a Rook and two connected passed pawns beat a lone Rook (as in the Diagram) unless the attacker's Rook is very poorly placed.
2 Challenges
Active Rook and two connected passed pawns versus Rook

Active Rook and two connected passed pawns versus Rook

Two extra connected passed pawns usually win pretty easily in Rook and pawn endgames unless the stronger side's King or Rook are on extremely poor squares (see the Diagram for an example of a passive White Rook giving Black enough play to draw). In the present example, White's Rook is well placed, the White King is not a horrible piece and the pawns are healthy. All the prerequisites are present for a White victory.
11 Challenges
Rook and two connected passed pawns vs. Rook and pawn

Rook and two connected passed pawns vs. Rook and pawn

A Rook and two connected passed pawns almost always beats a Rook and pawn. The only exceptions occur when the pawns are blockaded or the stronger sides Rook is very poorly placed. Since neither of these things are present, White can gain the full point.
17 Challenges
Bishops of opposite colors: One pawn vs. none

Bishops of opposite colors: One pawn vs. none

Opposite colored Bishops reside on the same board but are fated never to touch (Former World Champion Boris Spassky once compared his ex-wife and himself to Bishops of opposite colors...in the same home but never connecting). This means that they are quite useful in the middlegame (since one can attack something that the other can't defend) but become rather drawish in endgames. In the present problem, we see White with an extra pawn and a superior King but no winning chances at all. Why? Because the White Bishop can't chase the Black King off of d8. This means that the White pawn will never promote and the game will end in a draw. Black can prove this in two ways: 1) he can just move his Bishop back and forth and show White that nothing can be done to disturb Black's defensive stance; 2) he can give up his Bishop for the last White pawn.
1 Challenge
Bishops of opposite colors

Bishops of opposite colors

White is two pawns up but the presence of Bishops of opposite colors (and the blockade that the Black King and Bishop have created) makes the win impossible. In general, a two pawn plus will win if a blockade can be prevented. It stands to reason then, that the superior sides winning chances will grow as the pawns get further and further apart (see the Variation for an example of this). Here the pawns are close, so the game is drawn.
7 Challenges
Bishop and wrong colored Rook-pawn vs. King

Bishop and wrong colored Rook-pawn vs. King

White is a piece and pawn ahead yet he can't win. This may seem unjust (and it is!) but it shows why Rook-pawns must be viewed with such suspicion. If White had a dark-squared Bishop he would win easily since then he could force the Black King off of h8. Unfortunately, White's light-squared Bishop can't bother the Black King in any way. Of course, usually, an extra piece and pawn would add up to an easy victory. However, if the pawn is a Rook pawn and if the Bishop can't control the Queening square the game will be drawn since the defending King can't be forced out of the pawn's way.
2 Challenges
Knight and pawn vs. lone King

Knight and pawn vs. lone King

A piece and a pawn almost always defeat a lone King. The only exceptions occur when Rook-pawns exist. In the present position the game would be drawn if the pawn stood on the seventh rank. The fact that it is on the sixth rank (which doesn't give Black any stalemate possibilities) makes the win easy for White.
3 Challenges
Bishops of opposite colors: two pawns vs. none

Bishops of opposite colors: two pawns vs. none

Usually, the side with two pawns versus none (in a Bishop of opposite color endgame) wants his/her pawns to be far apart so no blockade is possible. If the pawns are connected (as is the case here), the defender can still draw if he/she knows the proper defensive formation. The position under discussion is not the proper formation and, to make matters worse, Black doesn't have time to set the proper formation up. Due to this, Black should lose the game.
9 Challenges
Bishops of opposite colors: three pawns vs. one

Bishops of opposite colors: three pawns vs. one

Black has set up the ideal defensive formation (as shown in Variation One) but the presence of the extra set of pawns allows White to claim an easy win. Why? If those pawns on a5 and a4 didn't exist then winning the Black Bishop by d5-d6+ would leave White with insufficient material to force victory (King and Bishop can't force a mate versus a lone King). However, the extra pawns allow White (after he wins the Black Bishop) to pick up the bit on a5 and then promote his own pawn on a4. In general (and don't forget that we're talking about Bishops of opposite colors here) a two pawn deficit gives the defender some chances if those are the only pawns on the board. As the number of pawns for both sides grows, so does the stronger side's winning chances.
8 Challenges
Queen versus e-pawn on seventh

Queen versus e-pawn on seventh

White has an extra Queen but the Black pawn is on the verge of promotion. If the pawn makes it to e8 the game will be drawn. However, even if White somehow stops the pawn from moving up one square, how can he win without the help of his King? Figure out how to bring the where it needs to go to win the game.
12 Challenges
Queen versus f-pawn on seventh

Queen versus f-pawn on seventh

Variation One gives a similar position that turns out to be an easy win for White. It looks like this should be the same but, strangely enough, Black can draw by force! This example (along with Variations One and Two) allows us to state the following rule: If the White King is far away and the Black pawn is on the seventh rank, the defender can only draw if his pawn is a Rook-pawn or Bishop-pawn. The Queen easily wins against Knight-pawns, Queen-pawns and King-pawns.
5 Challenges
Queen versus Rook-pawn on seventh

Queen versus Rook-pawn on seventh

White is up a Queen for a pawn but he can't win the game because his King is too far away. Any King move will allow the pawn to promote and sticking the Black King on h1 can easily lead to a stalemate. This example (along with Variations One and Two) allows us to state the following rule: If the White King is far away and the Black pawn is on the seventh rank, the defender can only draw if his pawn is a Rook-pawn or Bishop-pawn. The Queen easily wins against Knight-pawns, Queen-pawns and King-pawns.
3 Challenges
Queen versus pawn on sixth

Queen versus pawn on sixth

White always wins a Queen versus pawn on the sixth rank position- it doesn't matter what pawn the defender has or how far away White's King is. In the present position Black has a Rook-pawn (which usually gives him the best drawing chances-see the Variation for proof of this) but even here the situation is hopeless.
5 Challenges
Passive Rook and pawn on sixth vs. Rook. The Tarrasch Defense

Passive Rook and pawn on sixth vs. Rook. The Tarrasch Defense

Black's Rook can't get behind the passed pawn and his King is far away. Sounds bad, doesn't it? Black can still draw, however, by using a defense that some attribute to the German Grandmaster S. Tarrasch. Black needs to use his Rook to block the enemy King and to keep the White Rook under wraps. Do you see how to make your Rook do both these jobs at the same time?
5 Challenges

Lessons

Rook and Other Endgames

Endgames
39 Lessons
No Videos
244 Challenges
Released December 7, 2007
33,153 Students