Man de la Maza

Monday, April 04, 2005

Rook Endings

I have become interested in rook endgames of late. I think this shows that perhaps I should seek professional help. Who in their right mind would willingly study rook endgames?

I think it is because rook endings are a puzzle to me. They are quite common, and yet I usually don't have any idea what I am aiming for. I started by reviewing the offerings in "Essential Endgames Explained Move by Move" -- Lucena, Philidor, and a few other war horses. I also take more time playing through the endings in Saddler's book (which I 'm still moving forward with). I have Nunn's "Secret's of Rook Endings" if a question should come up. Ultimately, I 'd like to know the endings well enough that I could know in the late middlegame whether I should transition to a rook endgame because it is a winner. Since this level of knowledge is basically unknown at the club level, it would give me quite an edge.

10 Comments:

  • Speaking of rooks, did you notice that Blue Rook's blog vanished in smoke? (Which is a pun because smoke = rook in Dutch)

    By Blogger Temposchlucker, at 8:34 AM  

  • Rook endings are the place to start, behind King and pawn. Since the largest percentage of chess games end with these pieces on the board.
    I personally love Rook endings.
    Remember that an active Rook is a happy Rook, and you will do fine.

    By Blogger Sancho Pawnza, at 4:40 PM  

  • I think I had only about 3 times a rook ending the last 7 years. A friend of mine has 90% of the time an ending of knight vs bishop (which doesn't help him much though). So it seems that you can steer those things.

    By Blogger Temposchlucker, at 9:57 PM  

  • Tempo, I recall that you said that the majority of your games end in under 25 moves. Pretty hard to get in any endgame play in a game that short.

    By Blogger Don Q., at 5:00 AM  

  • I cannot remember when I've had the last rook-endgame.
    My games ends long before this in the chaos (?) of straight King attack. Whit rough gambit play I win or loose in 30 moves or less.

    By Blogger Margriet, at 8:02 AM  

  • I saw a book on Amazon called "Starting Out: Rook Endgames" that might be worth looking into. I've not seen it, so I can't give a recommendation either way.

    Tempo- Thanks for the Dutch lesson!

    By Blogger fussylizard, at 10:55 AM  

  • I think we have a winner - explaining your cross-language pun in a blog comment is a 10 on the geek scale.

    Anyway, I recommend Chris Ward's Endgame Play for information on basic rook endings. He does a nice job of explaining things. For a really awesome rook ending puzzle (one that I actually thought might arise in the Slacker Open) see Pal Benko's rook endgame study. A weird and beautiful one.

    The basic things to know if you don't want to track down Ward's book are that rooks belong behind passed pawns, both yours and his, that the lucena position is what you're aiming for up a pawn, the philidor position is what you're aiming for down a pawn, and that a kingside pawn majority alone with rook vs. rook is not enough to win.

    That last rule is little-known at lower levels and really pisses people off when they start to realize they can't win. I myself learned it the hard way in an online 30-minute game.

    Another rule worth knowing just so you don't get indoctrinated into the lazy version by some idiot is "two connected passed pawns on the sixth beat a lone rook." I know this because it's Short's rule, and it sometimes gets simplified into "two connected passed pawns beat a rook," false if the king is close enough to help, or worse, "two connected passed pawns beat a rook," a good recipe for losing horribly.

    It's also worth noting that in rook endings, Short's rule is one of the only practical exceptions to the old adage "a pawn is a pawn."

    By Blogger Adam P. Short, at 1:09 PM  

  • I mean "two connected passed pawns on the sixth beat a rook" is false if the king is close enough to help.

    By Blogger Adam P. Short, at 1:11 PM  

  • Don, have you been employing any sort of De La Mazan style study with your opening? Or is just sort of casual study time now? How is the chess going overall post 7 circles?

    By Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza, at 8:12 PM  

  • No, study is very casual. I've had enough of structured chess improvement for a while. now I'm just having fun.

    My game seems to have improved a bit, and I also seem to be on a bit of a lucky streak. Only objective test is the one rated game I play a week at club. I'd like to play in an good size tourney soon, but I'm not sure when that might be.

    By Blogger Don Q., at 8:48 PM  

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