21 February 2014

Practicing Rook Endings

After my opponent and I both managed to blow the rook ending in a blitz game that I played on my iPhone, I spent some time playing through possible variations against the computer. This sort of training can build confidence as I solve problems. It can lead to despair as I fail. Both are instructive.

White to move
After 37...Rc3
I played 38.Rb5?

The game continued 38...Rxe3 39.a5 Ra3 40.Rb8+ Kh7 41.Rb7 Kg6 42.Ra7 f6?! 43.exf6 gxf6

This position may be equal.

White to move

44.a6 e5 45.Kg1

Black to move

45...e4?! 46.Kf2= Kf5 47.Ra8 Kf4 48.g3+ Kf5 49.a7

Black to move


I went on to win. 49...Ra2+ holds the draw.

Training Game A

In the first practice session, I returned to the position after 37...Rc3 and tried 38.Ra8+. Rather than burdening my reader with all the moves in the long battle, I will limit myself. The game came one move short of a draw by the 50-move rule. I wish to present a few of the positions that I think are instructive.

White to move
After 39...Kg6
White can endure a few checks:  40.Kg3! Rxe3+ 41.Kf4 Re2 42.g3 Ra2 43.a5=

Black to move

The White king is vulnerable to checks, but the a-pawn is a threat that compensates.

The computer and I reached this position.

White to move
After 62...Ra6
I felt a sense of despair that my h-pawn was to fall, but making the only moves that seemed sensible demonstrated than my g-pawn was equal to the Black rook.

63.g4! Rxh6+ 64.Kg3 Rd6 65.g5 e1Q+ 66.Rxe1 Kxe1 67.Kf4 Rd4+ 68.Kf5

Black to move

In another line from this game that diverged at move 49, I found myself in this position.

White to move
After 64...Rh2
Again, my h-pawn looks threatened. This time, however, I do not have a g-pawn that I can push. However, I quickly noticed that I could reach a Philidor Position--the classic third-rank defense.

Hence 65...Rb8! Rxh4 66.Rb4+

(I could have played 66.Rb3)

66...e4 67.Rb3

Black to move

Training Game B

In the second game against Hiarcs, I started with an improvement on the part of my opponent at move 45. Instead of 45...e4, I loaded the position after 45...Kf5! Defense of a slightly worse position was difficult, but after several takebacks, I seem to have found a way to maintain equality.

The most instructive position came after 62...Ra4+.

White to move

63.Kf5! is the only move that draws. This time, White's h-pawn proves to be an equalizing threat.

63...Kxg2 64.h4 Kg3 65.Rg8+ Kh3 66.h5 f3 67.Rg1

Black to move

67...Ra5+ 68.Kg6 Ra6+ 69.Kg7 f2 70.Rf1 Kg2 71.Rxf2+ Kxf2 72.h6

Black to move

The engine always plays until lone kings stand on the board, but at this point the result should be clear.

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