Friday, June 22, 2012

Avoid rook endings at all costs...

...if you're playing Jim Duffy.  When Jim won the second section of last month's CICL Individual Championship (Larry Cohen won the first section, with the same 3-0 score as Jim), I asked him to send me his effortless first-round game.  He pointed out that he had won an even more seemingly colorless game in the second round.

Some players have a modest rating, but are exceptionally strong in one phase of the game.  If you are strong in the endgame, you will save many lost games and win most of your "hopelessly drawn" games. Cultivate your strengths!

Active rook + active king = won game.  Jim provides some light notes.

4 comments:

Vince Hart said...

Say rather "Avoid passive rooks in the ending at all costs, including a pawn or two." Without having looked at it too closely, I'm guessing White would have been better off letting the a-pawn go and activating his rook with 32. Rc1.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a better way of thinking about this is that if you aren't doing well in endgames you need to study them more? While I agree about playing to your strengths, in chess IMO it is often your weaknesses that decide more results.

The key to endgames are knowing the basic positions (especially K+P and K+R endgames which might number no more than 20-30) which you can't easily work out over the board ahead of your position. By know I mean you can give an instant answer without calculation on the correct plan to win. That and some calculation skills are all you need to play decent endgames at your rating. Pandolfini or Silman probably contain most if not all you're going to need. The simple endgames are also fun to learn and it doesn't take a lot of work. By simple I mean ones that can be explained by a clear concept (such as the need to get opposition in a critical position) rather than having to remember some complicated sequence. A good way to help remember them is to have a set of flashcards or training positions you can whizz through in a couple of minutes.

Hinting on the idea of avoiding the endgame because you're weaker there (or at least for certain opponents) would probably doing your chess more harm than good, even if might bringing in a few more points in the short term. If you want to add 200 or so rating points and your tactics and checkmates are up to scratch, the endgame is usually the next place to look.

In the specific example I agree that the passive rook is why the endgame was lost (irrespective of whether saccing the pawn would have given more chances). In that case by being able to see the position with the two rooks before exchanging, knowing the idea about passive and active rooks, and seeing White needs to spend a move in order to prevent a back rank mate might have suggested the need to prepare a little before exchanging to there. While Black's f6 seems to be the right idea (and I think you have to credit that, not just his rook skills), perhaps 30. Qb3+ (now there is a check) keeping the queens on while you try to do something about your king (h3?) would be a better try? Then on Qd3, Rf3 is an option and probably now Black has to try to play on the 7th rank against the g2 pawn, but by shifting the heavy pieces down there, does he really have anything, and what about his king now? After Qb3+ Black is still better placed, but surely White has some drawing chances?

David (1900ish FIDE)

Anonymous said...

Ps. Just put it through the computer (something that should be done after every game if you don't already - download arena for free). Rybka 2.2 prefers Qe3 to Qb3. Perhaps it's because it's more active, keeps the king out of the centre and also defends f4. I'm not sure at the sub-2000 level it would really make much difference, but I'm happy to be corrected.

David

Bill Brock said...

Thanks to insomnia, I finally sat down and took a look at this....

David is certainly right that keeping queens on makes sense, but exchanging queens is actually White's surest route to a draw.

And Vince is certainly right that White's rook was not put on this earth to be the nanny of the a3 pawn. But 32. Rc1
Rxa3 33. Rc6 h5! (33...Kf7 34.f5! is less flexible for Black) 34. f5 Ra4 35. Kg2 Rxb4 36. Rxa6 Rb2+ and Black is better, though White might draw....