Activate the rook, the race, the rolling pawns, Gunina's great king

8/12/2012 – Those are the themes of today's endgame lessons, brought to you by ChessBase Magazine columnist GM Karsten Müller. They are all taken from the recent Russia vs China Match in Saint Petersburg, one from the men's section and three from the women's. It's Elo-boosting material for our readers to study over the weekend – an opportunity to improve your practical tournament results.

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Activate the rook

Rook endings have a large drawish tendency, but if the attacker is active, matters are often different:

[Event "RUS-CHN Men"] [Site "St Petersburg RUS"] [Date "2012.07.05"] [Round "4"] [White "Yu Yangyi"] [Black "Tomashevsky, Evgeny"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2656"] [BlackElo "2733"] [Annotator "Müller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "94"] [EventDate "2012.07.02"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2012.07.05"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 Bb7 9. d3 d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Rxe5 Qd6 13. Re1 Rae8 14. Nd2 c5 15. Nf3 Bd8 16. Rxe8 Rxe8 17. Bg5 Bc7 18. Bh4 Qg6 19. Bxd5 Bxd5 20. c4 Bc6 21. cxb5 axb5 22. Kh1 Be5 23. Rc1 Bf4 24. Rxc5 Bxf3 25. gxf3 Qh6 26. Qe2 Rf8 27. Bg3 Qxh3+ 28. Kg1 Bxg3 29. fxg3 Qxg3+ 30. Kf1 g6 31. Qf2 Qd6 32. Rxb5 Qxd3+ 33. Qe2 Qb1+ 34. Kg2 Qxa2 35. Re5 Qa4 36. Re4 Qc6 37. b4 Rb8 38. Re5 Kg7 39. b5 Qf6 40. Rd5 h6 41. Qe5 Qxe5 42. Rxe5 Kf6 43. f4 {Activate the rook Rook endings have a large drawish tendency, but if the attacker is active, matters are often different:} Rc8 $1 {Tomashevsky brings his rook powerfully into play. The pawn moves are wrong as Black's rook is too passive:} (43... g5 $2 44. Kg3 Kg6 45. Rc5 Ra8 46. Rc3 $11) (43... h5 $2 44. Kg3 Rd8 45. Re3 Rd6 46. Rb3 Rb6 47. Kh4 Kf5 48. Rb4 f6 49. Kg3 $11) 44. Re2 {This retreat is too slow, but the alternativs do not help either:} (44. Re4 Rc2+ 45. Kf3 Rc3+ 46. Kf2 Rb3 {Now the rook has arrived in optimal position behind the passed pawn.} 47. Re5 Rb4 48. Ke3 g5 {Finally this undermining blow decides:} 49. Rc5 Rxf4 50. Rc6+ Kf5 51. Rxh6 Rb4 $19) (44. Re3 Rc2+ 45. Kf3 Rb2 46. Re5 Rb3+ 47. Ke4 Rb4+ 48. Ke3 g5 $19) (44. Kf3 Rc3+ 45. Ke4 Rb3 46. Kd4 (46. Rd5 h5 47. f5 g5 $19) 46... h5 47. Kc4 Rb1 48. Kd3 h4 49. Kc2 Ra1 50. b6 Ra8 $19) (44. Rd5 Rc4 45. Kf3 Ke6 46. Re5+ Kd6 47. Re8 Rb4 48. Rb8 g5 49. fxg5 hxg5 50. Kg3 (50. b6 f5 51. Ke3 Ke5 52. Re8+ Kf6 53. Rb8 g4 54. b7 f4+ 55. Kf2 Rb2+ 56. Kg1 Kg7 $19) 50... f5 51. Rd8+ Ke6 52. Rb8 Rb3+ $19) 44... Kf5 $1 {Now it is time to activate the king.} 45. Rb2 (45. Re7 f6 46. b6 Rc2+ 47. Kf3 Rb2 48. b7 Rb3+ 49. Re3 Rxb7 $19) (45. Kf3 Rc3+ 46. Re3 Rxe3+ 47. Kxe3 Ke6 $19) 45... Kxf4 46. Rf2+ (46. b6 {does not help as Black will win the b-pawn first and the game later, e.g.} Ke5 47. b7 Rb8 48. Kf3 Kd6 49. Ke4 Kc6 50. Rc2+ Kxb7 51. Ke5 Ra8 52. Kf6 Ra5 53. Kxf7 Rg5 $19) 46... Kg5 47. Rxf7 $6 {This leads directly to a lost endgame, which is given by the theory.} ({But} 47. b6 Rb8 48. Rb2 Rb7 {loses as well in the long run, e.g.} 49. Kf3 Kf5 50. Rb5+ Ke6 51. Rb1 Kd5 52. Kf4 Kc5 $19) 47... Rb8 $1 0-1

The Race

The question, if counterplay can be allowed or if prophylactic measures are called for, is often very difficult:

[Event "RUS-CHN Wom"] [Site "St Petersburg RUS"] [Date "2012.07.04"] [Round "3"] [White "Kovanova, Baira"] [Black "Huang Qian"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C13"] [WhiteElo "2391"] [BlackElo "2443"] [Annotator "Müller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "147"] [EventDate "2012.07.02"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2012.07.04"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Nbd7 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Nxf6+ Bxf6 8. Qd2 Bxg5 9. Qxg5 Qxg5 10. Nxg5 h6 11. Nf3 Ke7 12. O-O-O Rd8 13. Bd3 Nf6 14. c3 Bd7 15. Ne5 Be8 16. Rhe1 g5 17. Be2 c6 18. Bf3 Nd7 19. Nc4 Rac8 20. h4 Nf6 21. hxg5 hxg5 22. Re5 g4 23. Be2 Bd7 24. Ne3 Rh8 25. Nxg4 Nd5 26. Bf3 f6 27. Ree1 b5 28. Ne3 Kd6 29. Rh1 Rcg8 30. Kd2 Be8 31. g3 Nb6 32. Rxh8 Rxh8 33. Rh1 Rxh1 34. Bxh1 c5 35. dxc5+ Kxc5 36. Be4 Kd6 37. b3 Nd7 38. f4 f5 39. Bf3 Nf6 40. Kd3 Bh5 41. Bg2 Kc5 42. Nc2 Be8 43. Nd4 Bd7 44. Ne2 b4 45. c4 e5 46. Bh3 exf4 47. gxf4 Ne4 48. Ke3 a5 49. Bg2 Nd6 50. Nc1 Nxc4+ 51. bxc4 Kxc4 52. Nd3 Be6 {The Race The question, if counterplay can be allowed or if prophylactic measures are called for, is often very difficult:} 53. Bf1 $2 {The direct invasion of Black's king is just too quick and the resulting race only drawn.} ({After the prophylactic} 53. Kd2 {White will win in the long run, e.g.} Kb5 ( 53... Kd4 54. Nc1 a4 55. Bf1 Ke4 56. Ne2 Kd5 (56... Bxa2 $2 {runs into White's point} 57. Bg2#) 57. Ke3 Bf7 58. Nc1 Be8 59. Ba6 Bf7 60. Nd3 b3 61. axb3 axb3 62. Nb2 $18) (53... a4 54. Bc6 b3 (54... a3 55. Ba4 $18) 55. a3 $18) 54. Nc1 Ka4 (54... a4 55. Bf1+ Kc5 56. Ke3 b3 57. axb3 axb3 58. Kd2 Kd4 (58... b2 59. Nd3+ $18) 59. Bd3 b2 60. Ne2+ Kc5 61. Kc2 Bc4 62. Nc3 Bxd3+ 63. Kxd3 Kb4 64. Kc2 Kc4 65. Kxb2 Kd3 66. Kb3 Ke3 67. Nd5+ Kd4 68. Nc7 Ke4 69. Ne6 Kd5 70. Ng5 $18) 55. Bf1 Ka3 56. Bd3 Kb2 {And here White can even play} 57. Nb3 {as the race is now won:} Bxb3 (57... Kxa2 58. Nxa5 b3 59. Bc4 Bxc4 60. Nxc4 b2 61. Nxb2 Kxb2 62. Kd3 $18) 58. axb3 Kxb3 59. Bxf5 Kc4 60. Ke3 $18) 53... Kc3 $1 54. Nc1 (54. Nc5 Bxa2 55. Na4+ Kb3 56. Bb5 Ka3 57. Kd4 Be6 $11) 54... Kc2 55. Nb3 Bxb3 56. Bd3+ Kb2 57. axb3 Kxb3 58. Bxf5 ({Now it is too late for} 58. Kd2 { due to} Kb2 (58... a4 59. Bc2+ Ka3 60. Kc1 b3 61. Bb1 Kb4 62. Bxf5 a3 63. Be6 Kc3 64. Bxb3 Kxb3 65. Kb1 Kc4 $11) 59. Bb5 Kb3 ({However, not} 59... b3 $2 60. Bd7 $18) 60. Kc1 a4 61. Bd7 a3 62. Be6+ Kc3 63. Kb1 Kd4 64. Bxf5 Ke3 $11) 58... a4 59. Be6+ Kb2 (59... Kc3 $2 60. f5 b3 61. f6 b2 62. Ba2 Kc2 63. f7 b1=Q 64. Bxb1+ Kxb1 65. f8=Q $18) 60. f5 a3 61. f6 b3 $1 {The right way to stay in the race as} (61... a2 $2 {loses to} 62. Bxa2 Kxa2 63. f7 b3 64. f8=Q b2 65. Qf7+ Ka3 66. Qf5 Ka2 67. Qc2 Ka1 68. Qa4+ Kb1 69. Kd3 Kc1 70. Qc2#) 62. f7 a2 63. f8=Q a1=Q 64. Qh8+ Kb1 65. Qh1+ Kb2 66. Qg2+ Ka3 67. Qa8+ Kb2 68. Qh8+ Kb1 69. Qh7+ Kb2 70. Qg7+ Kb1 71. Qg1+ Kb2 72. Qg2+ Ka3 73. Qa8+ Kb2 74. Qh8+ 1/2-1/2

Gunina's great king

Invading with the king and zugzwang are two important weapons, when a bishop fights against a knight:

[Event "RUS-CHN Wom"] [Site "St Petersburg RUS"] [Date "2012.07.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Gunina, Valentina"] [Black "Shen, Yang"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D17"] [WhiteElo "2533"] [BlackElo "2425"] [Annotator "Müller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "119"] [EventDate "2012.07.02"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2012.07.03"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 e6 7. f3 c5 8. e4 Bg6 9. Be3 cxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd4 11. Bxd4 Nfd7 12. Nxd7 Nxd7 13. Bxc4 a6 14. Ke2 Rc8 15. Bb3 Rg8 16. a5 Bc5 17. Rhd1 Ke7 18. Ba4 Nb8 19. Rac1 Bb4 20. Na2 Rxc1 21. Rxc1 Bxa5 22. b4 b5 23. Bxb5 axb5 24. bxa5 Na6 25. Rc6 Ra8 26. Rb6 f6 27. Rxb5 Rb8 28. Bc5+ Kd8 29. Rxb8+ Nxb8 30. Bf8 Nc6 31. a6 Kc7 32. Nc1 f5 33. Ke3 fxe4 34. fxe4 Ne5 35. Bxg7 Ng4+ 36. Kd4 Kb6 37. Nd3 Nxh2 38. Nc5 Nf1 39. Be5 Nd2 40. Bb8 Be8 41. Bf4 Nb1 42. Nxe6 Bc6 43. Nc7 Na3 44. Nd5+ Kxa6 45. Nb4+ Kb5 46. Nxc6 Kxc6 {Gunina's great king Invading with the king and zugzwang are two important weapons, when a bishop fights against a knight:} 47. Ke5 $1 {The king must seize space first.} ({The direct advance} 47. e5 $2 {spoils it as Black's can set up a blockade on the light squares:} Nb5+ 48. Ke4 Nc7 {and White can not break through, e.g.} 49. Kf5 (49. Be3 Ne6 50. Kf5 Kd5 $11) 49... Kd5 50. Kf6 Ne6 51. g3 Nd4 52. Kg5 Ke4 53. Kh6 Nc6 54. Kxh7 Kf5 55. Kg7 Ne7 56. Kf7 Nc6 57. e6 Nd8+ $11) 47... Kd7 (47... Nb5 {is met by the bodycheck} 48. Ke6 {and White wins, e.g.} Nc3 49. e5 Nd5 50. Bh2 h5 51. Kf7 Kd7 52. e6+ Kd8 53. Be5 h4 54. Bf6+ $18) 48. Kf6 Nb5 49. Kf7 $5 {Gunina's king just continues the invasion.} Nd4 50. e5 Ne6 51. Be3 Nd8+ 52. Kf6 $1 {A strong bodycheck.} ({The greedy} 52. Kg7 $2 {is punished by} Ke6 53. Bf4 Nc6 54. Kxh7 Nxe5 55. Bxe5 Kxe5 56. Kg6 Kf4 57. Kh5 Kg3 $11) 52... Ne6 $6 (52... h5 $5 {is more tenacious, but still insufficient:} 53. Kg6 ({After} 53. Kg5 $6 Nf7+ 54. Kf5 Nd8 {White must play} 55. Kg6 {anyway.}) 53... Ke6 54. Bf4 h4 55. Kg5 Nf7+ 56. Kxh4 Kf5 57. Kg3 Nd8 58. Kf3 Nc6 59. g4+ Ke6 60. Ke4 Ne7 61. Bd2 Ng6 62. Bc3 Ne7 63. g5 Ng6 64. Bb2 Nf8 65. Kf4 Ng6+ 66. Kg4 Kf7 67. Kh5 $18) 53. g4 Nf8 ({The defense} 53... Nc7 {is broken by the repeated use of the sharp endgame weapon zugzwang:} 54. Bd2 Ne6 55. Kf7 Nc5 56. Bc3 Ne6 57. Bb2 Nf4 58. Kg8 h6 59. Kf7 Ne6 60. Kg6 $18) 54. Kg7 Ng6 (54... Ke8 55. Bc1 Ng6 56. Bb2 Nf8 57. Ba3 Ng6 58. Bd6 $18) 55. Bd4 Ke6 56. Kxh7 Nh4 (56... Nf4 {does not help due to} 57. g5 Kf5 58. Kh6 Ne6 59. g6 Nxd4 60. g7 $18) 57. g5 Kf5 (57... Nf3 {runs into} 58. g6 Nxd4 59. g7 $18) 58. Kh6 Ng6 (58... Nf3 {is again met by} 59. g6 $18) 59. e6 $5 {Gunina seizes the moment and breaks the light squared blockade for good.} Ne7 60. Bc5 (60. Bc5 Kxe6 61. Bxe7 Kxe7 62. Kh7 $18) 1-0

The rolling pawns

Connected passed pawns are very dangerous in rook endings:

[Event "RUS-CHN Wom"] [Site "St Petersburg RUS"] [Date "2012.07.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Ju, Wenjun"] [Black "Kovanova, Baira"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2518"] [BlackElo "2391"] [Annotator "Müller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2012.07.02"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2012.07.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 d5 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bg2 c6 8. O-O Nbd7 9. a4 b6 10. Rc1 Ba6 11. Na3 c5 12. b4 Ne4 13. Qe1 Rc8 14. Nb5 cxb4 15. Qxb4 Rxc4 16. Rxc4 dxc4 17. Qxc4 Qf6 18. Qc7 Ndc5 19. Qxa7 Bxb5 20. axb5 Nb3 21. Re1 g5 22. Qb7 Nbd2 23. Rd1 Nxf3+ 24. Bxf3 Nxf2 25. Kxf2 g4 26. Kg2 gxf3+ 27. Qxf3 Qg5 28. d5 h6 29. Rd4 Qe5 30. Rg4+ Kh8 31. dxe6 Qxe6 32. Rf4 Re8 33. Rxf7 Qxe2+ 34. Qxe2 Rxe2+ {The rolling pawns Connected passed pawns are very dangerous in rook endings:} 35. Kh3 $1 Rb2 ({Passive defense} 35... Re6 { is broken by} 36. Kh4 Kg8 37. Rb7 Rd6 38. Kh5 Re6 39. g4 Rd6 40. h4 Re6 41. Rc7 Rd6 42. Rc6 $18) 36. Rf6 Rxb5 ({After} 36... Kg7 $5 37. Rxb6 h5 {Black's rook is better placed, but White will win nevertheless with her two extra pawns, e. g.} 38. Rb8 Rb4 (38... Kg6 39. b6 Kh6 40. g4 hxg4+ 41. Kxg4 Kg6 42. Kf4 Kf6 43. Ke4 Ke6 44. b7 Kd7 45. Rh8 Rxb7 46. Rh7+ Kc6 47. Rxb7 Kxb7 48. h4 $18) 39. b6 Kh7 (39... Rb2 40. g4 hxg4+ 41. Kxg4 Rxh2 42. Kf5 Kf7 43. b7 Rb2 44. Rh8 Rxb7 45. Rh7+ $18) 40. Kg2 Rb2+ 41. Kf3 Rxh2 42. Ke4 Rb2 43. Kd5 Rd2+ 44. Kc6 Rc2+ 45. Kb7 Rc3 46. Rc8 Rxg3 47. Rc5 Kg6 48. Kc7 Rb3 49. b7 h4 50. Rc6+ Kg5 51. Rb6 $18) 37. Rxh6+ Kg7 38. Rc6 Rb2 {The alternativs do not help either:} (38... Kf7 39. g4 Ke7 40. Kh4 Kd7 41. Rf6 Kc7 42. g5 Rb2 43. Kg3 b5 44. h4 $18) (38... Rh5+ 39. Kg2 b5 40. g4 Rg5 41. Kg3 $18) 39. g4 {And White's connected passed pawns will decide the day by advancing together with the king:} b5 40. Kg3 Rb3+ 41. Kh4 (41. Kf4 $2 {spoils it due to} Rh3 42. Rc2 Kg6 $11) 41... b4 42. Rb6 $1 {The rook belongs behind the passed pawn.} Rb2 43. h3 $1 {The important h-pawn must be preserved as} (43. Kg5 $2 Rxh2 44. Rxb4 Ra2 45. Rb7+ Kg8 46. Kg6 Ra6+ $11 {leads to a version of Philidor's famous drawing position.}) 43... b3 ({ After} 43... Rb3 {White just continues with her advance in the same spirit as before:} 44. g5 $18) 44. Kg5 Rb1 45. h4 b2 46. h5 Kf7 ({One way to win the technical endgame after} 46... Rc1 47. h6+ Kh7 48. Rb7+ Kh8 49. Rxb2 {is} Rc5+ 50. Kg6 Rc6+ 51. Kh5 Rc5+ 52. g5 Kh7 53. Rb7+ Kg8 54. Rd7 {The rook comes closer to give shelter to the king.} Ra5 55. Kg6 Ra6+ 56. Kf5 Ra5+ 57. Kf6 Ra6+ 58. Ke5 Ra5+ 59. Rd5 Ra1 (59... Ra6 60. Rd6 Ra1 61. g6 Re1+ 62. Kf4 Rf1+ 63. Kg3 Rf8 64. Kg4 Ra8 65. Kg5 Ra5+ 66. Kf6 Ra8 67. h7+ Kh8 68. Kg5 Ra5+ 69. Kh6 Rh5+ 70. Kxh5 $18) 60. g6 Re1+ 61. Kf6 Rf1+ 62. Rf5 Ra1 63. h7+ Kh8 64. g7+ Kxh7 65. Rh5+ Kg8 66. Rh8#) 47. Rb7+ Kf8 48. h6 (48. h6 Kg8 49. h7+ Kh8 50. Kg6 Rf1 51. Rb8+ Rf8 52. Rxf8#) 1-0

Karsten Müller in ChessBase Magazine

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