Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Simple rook endings?

This is the position from Bacrot Etienne against Ray Robson in the FIDE World Cup. The players had gone into tie-breaks and after 65 moves the following position was reached.
Bacrot - Robson, FIDE World Cup tie-breaks

Black is one pawn down but reached a standard draw. The plan is simple. Keep the rook behind the passed pawn and prevent the white rook from getting too active. If the white king moves over to support the passed pawn, then capture one or more pawns on the king-side with the rook. The black king moves up the board to support the king-side pawns, sacrifice the rook for the a-pawn and draw by pushing black's own passed pawn to queen.

In this ending, Bacrot showed some interesting finesse in a well known rook ending.

66. Ra8 Ra3+ 67. Kd4 Ra2 68. Kc5

If white tries to counter Rxf2 with 68. a7, then the black rook starts checking the white king from behind. White can never get his king near the passed pawn as he does not have any shelter from checks.

68...Rxf2 69. Rd8 Ra2 70. Kb6 Rb2+ 71. Kc6 Rc2+ 72. Kb7 Rb2+ 73. Ka8

Now that the white king has been checked to a8 blocking his queening pawn, black has time to start advancing his own king-side pawns. Speed is important as a single wrong move can result in a lost.

73...Kf5 74. a7 Kg4 75. Rb8 Ra2 76. Rb3

Protecting his g3 pawn and forcing black to waste time to get his other pawns moving.

76....f6 77. Rb6! 

A nice touch to this well-known ending. Black is forced to play very accurately and as we shall see later, he misses his way.

76...g5 78. Rxf6 gxh4 79. gxh4 Kxh4 80. Kb7 Rxa7+ 81. Kxa7 Kg3 82. Rg6+ 

A tempo gain to get the rook behind the pawn.

82...Kf3 83. Rh6 Kg4 84. Kb6 h4 85. Kc5 h3 86. Kd4 Kg3 87. Ke3

What would you play here? There is only one move that draws.

87...h2 ??

Black had to play  87... Kg2  88. Rg6+ Kf1! (Wrong move will be 88...Kh1?? 89.Kf3 h2 90. Ra6 with mate)  89. Kf3 (89.Rh6 Kg2 just repeats)  h2 90. Rh6 Kg1 with a draw.

88. Rg6+ Kh3 89. Kf2 h1=N+ 90. Kf3 Kh2 91. Rg7 1-0


Yeoh said...

Hi Jimmy
1. Nice & Interesting article! Tks.
2. If not mistaken, the initial diagram is a standard position?
3. Perhaps 66...Ra3 & 67... Ra2 wasted too many tempos?
4. May be 66...Kf5 is more accurate? (closer to g3 pawn)

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