How to Play in Rook Endgame

How to Play in Rook Endgame

“In a Rook and Pawn ending, the Rook must be used aggressively. It must either attack enemy Pawns, or give active support to the advance of one of its own Pawns to the Queening square.”  (Tarrasch).

In this game, with the help of an active Rook, Tarrasch´s King and passed pawn march methodically up the chessboard. As they move forward step by step, the opponent´s pieces are driven further and further back until the edge of the board, where they can put up little resistence to the advance of the passed Pawn. The classic simplicity of  Tarrasch’s technique in the conduct of this ending is so impressive as to make it. The Most Instructive Rook and Pawn Ending Ever Played.

Siegbert Tarrasch vs Edmund Thorold

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 (Tarrasch prefers this to the usual Nc3 because the Knight is developed without blocking c2 Pawn.)

c5 4. exd5 Qxd5

5. Ngf3 (A temporary Pawn sacrifice, to gain time for quick development of the pieces.) cxd4 6. Bc4 Qh5 7. O-O Nc6 8. Nb3 e5 9. Nxe5!

Qxd1 10. Rxd1 Nxe5 11. Re1 (This pin, followed by 12.f4 will regain the piece given up by White.)

f6 12. f4 ( The threat is now 13.fxe5, fxe5; 14.Rxe5+, followed by 15.Nxd4, and White is a Pawn ahead.) Bb4 13. Bd2 Bxd2 14. Nxd2 Bf5 15. fxe5 O-O-O 16. Bd3 Bxd3

17. cxd3 (After the exchange of Bishops White has: (a) the c file open for his Queen Rook, (b) big advantage in development: all his pieces are active now.)

fxe5 18. Rac1+ Kb8 19. Rxe5 Nf6 20. Rce1 Rhe8

21. Rxe8 Nxe8 22. Re7 (Rook on the seventh rank. Black´s Knight cannot move now (the g7 Pawn would be lost). a6

23. Nb3 b6 24. Nxd4 Rxd4 25. Rxe8+ Kc7 26. Re3

Kd7 27. Kf2 g6 28. Rh3 (This forces the h-pawn to advance, weakening the g-pawn.)

h5 29. Ke3 (Changing of the guard. Now:

(1) White King protects the Pawn, freeing the Rook for active duty.
(2) The King is brought closer to the center.
(3) Black´s Rook, blockader of the Pawn, is forced to retreat.
(4) The passed Pawn will be able to advance.)

Rd6 30. d4 Re6+ 31. Kd3 Re1 (An attempt to get behind White´s Pawns.)

32. Rg3 Re6 33. Re3 Rd6 34. Re5 Rf6

35. a4 (Mindful of the safety of his Queen side Pawns, Tarrasch decides to move them away from the second rank and possible attack by Black’s Rook.) Rf2 36. Re2 Rf6

37. b4 (Once his two Queen side Pawns are on the 4th rank, Tarrasch could advance them, if necessary, and protect them with his Rook from the 5th rank (e5 square).)

Rf1 38. Re5 Rf2 39. Rg5 Rf6 40. h3 Kd6 41. Ke4

Re6+ 42. Re5 Rf6 43. d5 Kd7

44. Rg5 ((1) Clears the e5 square for the King, (2) prepares to bring the Rook to g3 and f3, where the threat of exchange will drive the opposing Rook off the open file.)

Kd6 45. Rg3 Ke7 46. Rf3 Rd6 47. Ke5 Rd8 48. d6+ Kd7 49. Rf7+ Kc8 50. Rc7+ Kb8 51. Rc2

Re8+ 52. Kf6 b5 53. d7 Rh8 54. Ke7 Rh7+ 55. Kd6 Rh8 56. Re2 (The exchange of Rooks on e8 is inevitable, followed by the queening of the Pawn.) 1-0

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