Black to go from the middlegame directly into a rook ending
Well here we are, July already. Six months and thirty posts in. Even with one or two guest blogs, I'm still comfortably ahead of schedule to reach my target of 52 rook and pawn posts in 2013.
Not a bad time, then, to take stock. Consider my goal for the year and ask myself the Morrissey question.
Let's start with my rapidplay games. 51 of them January to June, ten of which boiled down to kings, rooks and pawns. That's not an unhealthy percentage, but actually if my experience proves anything it's that Golders Green is the place to go to if that's the sort of thing you're after.
Nine of my 36 games at Adam Raoof's monthly tournament - precisely one in four - turned into rook endgames. It could have been more, too. I'd have made it into double figures had one opponent not resigned instead of accepting a forced queen exchange which would have left him with rook plus five pawns against my rook and seven. Very annoying.
+4 =4 -2 at an ECF performance rating of 171 or thereabouts. That's considerably higher the 155 with which I started the year and a few points more than the figure - I think it will be somewhere in the upper160s - that will appear under my name in the summer grading list.
So, with all due respect to Mozzer's grumpy 'it makes none' conclusion, my feeling is that writing about rook endings has both led me to play many more of them than otherwise would have been the case and maybe it's even improved my results a little too. That wasn't the intention, but I'll take grading points anywhere I can get them.
No (more) apologies, then. I'll head merrily into the second half of my rook endgame year, starting with my favourite transition to a rook ending from 2013 so far.
Black to play
T. Joslin v JMGB
Golders Green, April 2013 (2)
The position in the diagram is just a move and a half out of established theory. Theory that was well known to me, although fortunately not to my opponent. In the circumstances it was an exceptional effort from White to find his way to move 18 all on his own, but it left him 15-20 minutes down on the clock.
Anyhoo, with the benefit of a comfortable time advantage I settled down for a bit of a think. Here's pretty much how it went (imagine this as a Master Game voiceover if it pleases you).
What to do? Fork the rooks which forces chop, chop, chop, recapture? ... can he back rank me here? ... no take on b2, take, take, take and I have ... g6. What then? I'm attacking a knight and a pawn ... so push, take, take, I can win a pawn ... no then I do get mated ... instead move the knight then - it's going to a good square - he has to move his, attack the pawn, he does something - no idea what but it doesn't seem to matter - and now I can take twice on d4 and I'm a protected passed pawn up in a rook ending. That'll do me.
I very rarely calculate a line that long let alone see it actually materialise on the board when I do. It's just that this time that's exactly what happened ... and when I got to the end realised I was winning a second pawn too.
Happy days. Here's hoping for another six months of them.
Rook and pawn Index