Difficult Endgames

Last week was a great success! Not only did we have many members show up at The Landing, but there were several who spotted us and asked for more information!  Hopefully, we’ll continue to grow.

We’ll be meeting at The Landing at 6pm on Wednesday, February 2 (Groundhog Day)! Just learning? One of us will happily walk through the moves and some basic strategies. Already know the game but would like to get some real board experience? We’ll try and match you to someone close to your skill level.

Difficult Endgames

Chess.com recently tweeted a comic with a person asking a crowd of chess players who among them wanted to raise their chess rating. Everyone raised their hand. Then, when they were asked how many of them wanted to study some endgames, they all put their hands down and looked away.

A book I’m currently digesting is Chess Fundamentals by José Raúl Capablanca. It is very short and a good read for beginners. Chapter 1 covers a little bit of the basics of endgames until you get to Chapter 2, which is devoted entirely to endgames. I’ll share one that I am still struggling with: the queen against rook endgame.

Queen vs Rook Endgame: White to move

I recall looking at this thinking that perhaps 1. Qa6 is a decent move. But where do I go if black answers with 1. … Rc7+?  Do I move my king further away? Keep it on the same file? If white decides on 2. Kb6, then black will force a stalemate with 2. … Rc6+ threatening the queen if you don’t take the rook.  Notice, however, that 3. Kxc6 results in the 1/2 – 1/2 stalemate, as the black king is not in check and has nowhere to go!

So, what should white do?  The goal for white happens to be to try and return to this same exact position but with black to move. This can be done pretty easily with the following sequence. 1. Qe5+. This will be followed by either 1. … Ka8 or 1. … Ka7. (It will not be followed by 1. … Kc8 since then 2. Qe8# is checkmate). Then 2. Qa1+ Kb8 3. Qa5, and we’re back to the same position above but it is black’s turn.

Black should move their rook a distance along the rank or file so as not to be taken easily. For example, not 3. … Re7 or Rg7 since 4. Qd8+ or Qe5+ would win the rook on the next move.  Whereever the rook moves to, however, the queen can eventually get it and that is what deserves practice!

If you found this endgame intriguing and want to learn more, please ask me at Chess Club!

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