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Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 10:20 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Eckental / Germany
 Post subject: Rook endgames are always drawn!
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:35 am 
I used to get mad with my team mates when they made bad moves in their endgames and I tried to improve my endgame play by studying books like Smyslov's "Rook endgames" or Eliskases' "Stellungsspiel" ("Position Play"), which has a lot on bishop endings. But I discovered that I could not remember the bulk of analysis and that there were no simple rules like "The rooks belong behind the free pawns" (Tarrasch) or "The seventh rank absolute" (Nimzowitsch). So I gave up.

Even these simple rules cannot be trusted as I learned from an endgame between Euwe (the future word champion) and Capablanca (the ex-world champion), Karlsbad 1929.

The position was

White: Kf4, Rh6, Pe4, f2,g2, h2
Black: Kd4, Rd6, Pa4, f6

White to move.

White has a winning position and according to the rules he wanted to place his rook behind his opponent's free pawn. He played 43. Rh5? which was wrong and the game ended in a draw.

He should have played

43. Rh3! (trying to place his rook in front of the free pawn) Ra6 44. Ra3 Kc4 45. h4 Kb4 46. Ra1 a3 47. Kf5 a2 48. g4 Kb3 49. h5 +-

or 43. Rh3! Re6 44. Re3 a3 45. Ra3 Re4 46. Kf5 Re2 47. Rf3 +- (Analysis by Tartakower)

(I must give credits to Tarrasch: in his book "Das Schachspiel" ("The Game of Chess") he gives an example where putting the rook behind the free pawn is a blunder!)

I also discovered that Capablanca committed two blunders in a simple (?!) rook and pawn endgame, but as his opponent blundered, too, he could still win his game. (See my post "How good is your endgame?")

So want can we expect from lesser mortals if even world champions cannot play rook endgames correctly? I am no longer mad with my team mates when they play their bad moves in the endgames. After all we are patzers.

I admire the wise chessplayer who said: "Rook endgames are always drawn". This should be made a chess rule! Only Karpov should be allowed to play on.


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