Monday, November 22, 2010

Rook endings (or, the love that dare not speak its name)

If you enjoy rook endings as much as I do, you'll love Nunn's Chess Endings, Volume 2.  John Nunn's books are always full of top-rate material, but unfortunately, much of it has often whizzed over my head.  (For example: Secrets of Rook Endings.)  But Nunn has put a lot of work into organizing his mind-bending examples thematically and giving the reader guidance.  The examples are still difficult, but Nunn has never been this reader-friendly before!

For example, here are the first three diagrams in Nunn's book:

Fries Nielsen-Plachetka, Rimavska Sobota 1991
White to play and win
Usually when I get such a position, I have three minutes left on the clock and am reduced to counting on my fingers: "I go here, he goes there, I go here..."

Analysis diagram
White to play and draw

Hey! Didn't I learn in one of my beginners' books that two pawns on the sixth rank always win against an unassisted rook?  And indeed, 1.Rxh3? does lose.  Why?  And where's the darn draw?

Penrose-Perkins, British Championship, 1972
White to play and draw
I found the first position hard and the third position mind-numbingly difficult.  Back with Nunn's guidance in a little bit.

1 comment:

GreenCastle said...

Nice post on intermediate checks (the theme)

In the first position Rg2+, if the Black K goes to the f file then Rh2 forces ..Kg5. White has improved the position of the rook and moved Black's K back a square, White brings his K in and easily wins.

If the Black K goes to the h file, then Rg8. In 6 moves Black will have his K on h1 and pawn on h2, how does White spend his 6 moves? Kc6-Kd5-Ke4-Kf3-Ra8-Ra1#

The third position is hard.