Chess Endgame Tactics: Rook and Pawn endings – Part 3

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In Endgame Tactics for Rook and Pawn endings Part 2, we averred that the Lucena maneuver does not work if the Pawn is on a Rook file as shown below.

Rook and Pawn ending type 5

1. Rg4 Rf2   White Rook is unable to deliver check to drive Black King away


Other alternatives also do not work e.g.

1. Rf1+ Ke7   If White Rook next tries to go to g-file, Black King goes back to original position
2. Kg7 Rg2+   2. Rf4 Rg2 does not help
3. Kh6 Rh2+  
4. Kg6 Rg2+   and it goes nowhere


The reason it works for Pawn on b-file to g-file as shown in Chess Endgame Tactics for Rook and Pawn endings Part 2 is that the White King can come out on either side of the Pawn. One side is blocked by Black Rook, other side by Black King. When White Rook drives away the Black King, the Black Rook cannot guard both sides simultaneously.

But with Pawn on a-file or h-file, White King can come out only one way, so either of Black King or Black Rook can guard against White King’s escape.

To win with Pawn on Rook file, there has to be a gap of 4 files between the Pawn and the Black King when the Black Rook is guarding the file next to Rook file as shown in following diagram. So when the White Rook is brought to drive away the Black Rook guarding the Knight file, the Black King is still too far away to take up the blocking position against White King.

Rook and Pawn ending type 6

The sequence of moves with most resistance by Black will be as follows. (To improve your understanding, you can work out the results of other variations to experience how incorrect moves can take away your win).

1. Ra1 Kd7  
2. Ra8 Ke6  
3. Rg8 Rh2  
4. Kg7 Rg2+  
5. Kf8 Rf2+  
6. Ke8 Ra2   Black threatens checkmate on next move
7. Rg6+ Kf5  
8. Rf6+ Kg5   7. … Kxf6 8. h8=Q+ wins
9. Rf8 Ra8+  
10. Kf7 Ra7+  
11. Kg8   wins for White


In the next part, we will examine the chess tactics for Philidor position that gives an endgame with Rook and a Pawn against Rook and gives a draw to the defending side with careful play.


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