An unexamined life is not worth living.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Checkmate in the rook endgame

In the endgame a king is supposed to play an active role, so it is easy to miss cases where suddenly the king ends up in grave danger. In one of the variations of the Panov attack – an endgame arises where Black has to have a subtle feeling for whether his king should be active, or safe. I’ve already written a post called “Breakthrough in a rook endgame” where the Black king was playing an active role, so now – a couple of examples where the king comes under massive fire of White’s two rooks and potentially gets mated.

Charbonneau – Jiganchine, Edmonton, 2000, analysis

image Black to move r7/p5pp/1k3p2/3R4/7r/P4P2/1P3P1P/1KR5 b - - 0 29
Question:is it safe for Black to take on h2 with 29… Rxh2 ?
Answer: No! White plays a4 and Black has no good defence against Rb5+ and Rc6 #, say after 30. a4 Rxf2 31. Rb5+ Ka6 32. Rc6 #

image Game over

After 30. a4!, there is no other good defence, e.g. 30... a6 31. a5+ Kb7 32. Rd7+ Kb8 33. Re1 Kc8 34. Rxg7

image White is just winning r1k5/6Rp/p4p2/P7/8/5P2/1P3P1r/1K2R3 b - - 0 34
e.g. 34… Rd8 35. Rg8+ Kd7 36. Rxa8 +-

You’d say – who would fall for this type of trick? A grandmaster could, here is an example from the same Caro-Kann endgame:
Meier – Saltaev, 2006
(Click here to replay the entire game)

image Black to move 8/p2R4/8/3p1R1p/KP1k3r/P2r1P2/5P2/8 b - - 0 33
Black played 33… Kc4? (33… Kc3 was better) and resigned after 34. Rc7 Kd4 35. Rc5! 1-0

imageThere is no good defence against Rfxd5 with potential checkmate.
8/p7/8/2Rp1R1p/KP1k3r/P2r1P2/5P2/8 b - - 0 35

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