15 July 2015

Side Checks

Even when down to a few seconds on the clock, I have drawn many rook endgames a pawn down. Because I teach the Philidor Position to young chess players, executing it in play is a simple matter. But sometimes checks from the rear fail and yet a similar idea succeeds.

White can draw this position.

White to move

I played 47.Rb8? and my opponent demonstrated that my king would never get to the pawn with 47...Rd4. I resigned a few moves later.

I could have played 47.Kc3 and after 47...Rh1 48.Rb5+ Kf4 49.Kd2 h4 50.Ke2 and it becomes clear that my king is close enough.

An even simpler draw was possible via 47.Rb5+ Kf4 48.Rb4+ Kg3 49.Rb5 (only move) Rh1

White to move

Here side checks save the game.

White has three possible moves that draw:

a) 50.Ka3

b) 50.Ka2

c) 50.Rc5

In each case, the point is that Black's king has no refuge from side checks except 50...Rf1, which drops the pawn.

I should have known this technique as well as I do checks from the rear. This blitz loss reveals that some practice may help reinforce the point.

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