Endgame: rook versus pawn

Winning an endgame with a rook against a lone pawn should be straightforward. But sometimes things are not so easy. These endgames can get a lot more complicated when the pawn is close to promotion.

Even more problems might arise when the pieces of the stronger side are in the wrong places.

When both problems occur in the same position, the ‘stronger’ side might be dead lost. See the first diagram. This position was posted by international chess master Johan Salomon from Norway on his twitter account. It is white to play and win. Solution…

Underpromotion is a theme that’s seen more often in this type of endgame.

See the next diagram. How would you assess this position? Can white stop the black pawn without sacrificing his rook? See the solution…




The next position is a bit more complicated. It is very easy for white to go wrong. White’s position is won, but he should play very carefully. Let’s look to the position first.

The rook alone can’t stop the pawn. Well that is of course, the rook can sacrifice itself for the pawn but that only yields a draw. So it is a no brainer that white should bring his king closer to the action. He has to win the pawn some way or another. That doesn’t work without the help of the king.

And that’s exactly where the white player goes astray. See what happened…

I found the second and third positions in ‘Fundamental Chess Endings’ by Karsten Müller and Frank Lamprecht. A great book, but I did not read it completely like Magnus Carlsen did. I guess his memory is also slightly better than mine.

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