Monday, January 07, 2013


White to play

A happy new year to you all. I trust each and every one of you, our esteemed and most valued readers, have had a good Christmas - or whatever holiday break it is that you do or do not celebrate - and 2013 finds you in excellent form.

Enough with social niceties. Time to resume blogging.

My announcement for today is that I have a New Year's Resolution. Yes, such things are normally dead in the water by now, but I have one and what is more it's still alive: by the time the year is out I aim to have published 52 blog posts on rook and pawn endings.

Why do this? First and foremost it's to force myself to actually look closely at these positions for a full twelve months. I don't expect it will 'improve' my game. I'm simply not playing enough at the moment for it to be likely that any kind of study would lead to better results. Actually, the very fact that I'm not playing as much 'real chess' as I'd like is one of the main motivations for doing this.

I'm not able to play club chess as much as I'd like just now, but I didn't want to give up the game totally. I needed to find some kind of chessic activity to fill my time, and I got to thinking "why not focus on one particular area of the game? Why not rook and pawn endings?" Not for any particular reason. Just because.

So that's what I did. These posts will just be a diary I keep along the way. Let's see how it goes.

In the meantime, allow me to redirect your attention to the position at the top of today's post. It is, fairly obviously, White to play.


The choice, in 2013, is yours.
BORP Index


Anonymous said...

Unlike ejh's World Champion might have beens, this is easy enough to cheat by looking it up on the Shredder tablebase. It's still a long and probably instructive process to demonstrate a win for Black, even after the incorrect choice of opening move.


Anonymous said...

On a slightly different subject,'The Sicilian Defence' is the title of Wednesdays episode of Midsummer Murders,which has a strong Chess theme and is about a killer targeting members of a Chess club.
Might be worth taping a quick whizz through?


Dan Schmidt said...

If I had to make a move in ten seconds, I'd play Kh1, because I know the principle that the king goes to the short side and the rook goes to the long side.

If I had to make a move in ten minutes.. well, I'd probably do the same thing, because my calculation isn't good enough to actually do anything but go with general principles.

AngusF said...

I believe I know the answer but I'm not going say since I've spent some time exploring endings with Jonathan.

Anyhow, 52 blogs on rook endings in a year would be impressive - and, I think, due recognition for an important part of the game. In his book, '100 Endgames You Must Know', Jesus de la Villa, gives an interesting statistic: in a database of 4 million games, 320,000 (8%) had a rook ending. And, for what it's worth, only 120,000 of these were drawn.


Tom Chivers said...

Presumably rook endgames are relatively frequent because it is relatively quite hard to exchange four rooks - eg compared to knights and bishops which can be interchangably snapped off in the opening, or only two queens which rove around the board more freely.

John Cox said...

Well, after two seconds' reflection and hence at the risk of making a total fool of myself, it must be Kh1 because then Ra1 can't be prevented, and IIRC you can defend against the NP in this way.

Plus 1 Kf1 Kh2 looks a bit annoying.

Good NYR btw - look forward to it.

ejh said...

In 2014 we plan to do 52 posts on the Slav Exchange.

Jonathan B said...

Kh1 is the drawing move. I've never thought of it as a shortside technique before (@Dan) but I suppose it is of sorts.

As JC points out - the key point is that against a knight's pawn you can defend by shuffling your rook along on the back rank as long as your king is in front of the pawn. Kf1 allows the Black to force White's king out of the way.

Roger's quite correct about Tablebase, of course. Funnily enough, that's something I hope to be coming back to in future weeks.