Grivas teaches: Rook vs Bishop (1)

by Efstratios Grivas
9/15/2017 – Like to earn some extra rating points? Or progress one more round in the World Cup? Last Friday in Tbilisi the young Hungarian GM Richard rapport drew our admiration by flawlessly winning a difficult endgame against Chinese GM Wei Yi. We reported on that fateful game, and now thankfully a top international chess trainer provides systematic instruction on how to play the rook vs bishop ending. First installment from Efstratios Grivas: Modern Endgame Manual.

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Rook vs bishop

3 vs 3 pawns, same side

In the recent FIDE World Cup a quite familiar ending of rook vs bishop with three pawns for each side on the same side, appeared in the game between two young stars, the Hungarian Richard Rapport and the Chinese Wei Yi.

This type of ending is fully analysed in one of my recent books:

The Modern Endgame Manual
Mastering Rook vs Pieces Endgames

by Efstratios Grivas

May 2017, Chess Evolution
344 pages (240 mm by 170 mm)
ISBN: 978-615-80713-2-1


Of course many more pawn structures in this particular ending are analysed, but let’s focus on the above mentioned game. We will start by getting some examples from my book. But before we begin you might be interested to see if you can win the following position (Black to play) against a chess engine.

Did you suceed? Here is full analysis of the above example (click Ctrl-B to flip the board):

[Event "Rook + 3P vs Bishop + 3P"] [Site "Athens"] [Date "2011.11.23"] [Round "?"] [White "Example 1"] [Black "Black to play and win"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Efstratios Grivas"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/1B6/6p1/5p1p/5P1P/4k1P1/2r5/6K1 b - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2011.11.23"] [EventCountry "GRE"] [SourceTitle "Rook vs Bishop - Advert"] [Source "Grivas CIA"] [SourceDate "2017.09.14"] {Here is the way to do the job; the following breakthrough is the only way for the 'rook' side to prevail.} 1... g5 $1 ({The only way, as the pawn ending resulting from} 1... Rc7 2. Ba8 Ra7 3. Bc6 Kd4 4. Kf2 Kc5 5. Bf3 Ra2+ 6. Kf1 Ra3 7. Kf2 Rxf3+ 8. Kxf3 Kd4 9. Kf2 $1 {is drawn.}) 2. hxg5 ({No help is offered by} 2. fxg5 f4 3. gxf4 (3. g6 f3 4. g7 Rg2+ 5. Kf1 Rxg3) 3... Kxf4 { , when the white pawns will be lost.}) 2... h4 3. gxh4 ({Not} 3. g6 Rc7 $1 {.}) 3... Rc7 $1 ({A very accurate move.} 3... Rf2 $2 {seems to lead to a draw after } 4. Bg2 $3 (4. Bc8 Rxf4 5. Kg2) 4... Rxf4 5. Bh3 $1 Rxh4 6. Bxf5 Rh5 7. Bd7 Rxg5+ {, despite the fact that the white king is near the wrong corner.}) (3... Kxf4 $2 {also fails to achieve the aim:} 4. g6 Rc7 5. h5 $1 (5. Bd5 $2 Kg3 6. Kf1 f4 $1 {).})) 4. Bd5 Rh7 $1 5. Be6 Ke4 $1 (5... Kxf4 6. g6 Rxh4 7. Kf2 Rg4 8. Bf7 Ke4 9. Be8 Ke5 10. Kf3 {is also fine.}) 6. g6 ({Alternatives are also losing for White:} 6. Kg2 Rxh4 7. Bf7 Rg4+ 8. Kh3 Kxf4 $19 {.}) 6... Rxh4 7. Bf7 Rxf4 8. Kg2 Ke3 9. Kh3 Rg4 10. Be6 Kf4 11. Bf7 Rg3+ 12. Kh4 Rg1 13. Kh3 Ke3 {And Black is easily winning.} 0-1

[Event "Rook & 3P vs Bishop & 3P - P1"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "1973.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Example 2"] [Black "Black to play wins"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Efstratios Grivas"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/6p1/3B1p1p/5P1P/4k1P1/1r6/5K2 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "1973.??.??"] [EventCountry "URS"] [SourceTitle "Rook vs Bishop - Advert"] [Source "Grivas CIA"] [SourceDate "2017.09.14"] {This study by R. Kholmov & R. Huebner is also valuable.} 1. Bc6 Rd2 2. Kg1 Rd6 3. Bb7 g5 $1 4. fxg5 (4. hxg5 h4 5. Kg2 (5. gxh4 Kxf4 6. Kg2 Kg4 7. Bc8 Rg6 8. Kh2 Rc6 9. Bd7 Rc2+ 10. Kg1 Kg3 11. Kf1 f4 12. Ke1 f3 13. Bb5 f2+ 14. Kd1 Rb2 15. Bd3 Rb1+ $19) 5... hxg3 6. Kxg3 Rd4 7. Bg2 Rxf4 8. Bh3 Rf3+ 9. Kh4 Kf4 10. g6 Re3 11. g7 Rg3 12. Bxf5 Rxg7 13. Bd3 Rd7 14. Bg6 Rd8 $19 {.}) 4... f4 5. gxf4 Kxf4 6. Kf2 Rd2+ 7. Kf1 (7. Ke1 Rh2 8. g6 Rxh4 9. Bc8 Kf3 10. Kd2 Rd4+ 11. Kc3 Rd1 $19 {.}) 7... Kg3 8. g6 Rd4 9. Bc8 Rf4+ 10. Kg1 Rc4 11. Ba6 Rc1+ 12. Bf1 Rc7 13. Bb5 {[#]} Rg7 $1 14. Be8 Re7 15. Bb5 Kxh4 16. Kf2 Kg5 17. Bd3 Rd7 18. Bb1 Kf4 19. Kg2 Rd2+ 20. Kh3 Rb2 21. g7 Rb3+ 22. Kh2 Rg3 {White wins the pawn and should win the game. But his win isn't really trivial! Play might continue:} 23. Ba2 Rxg7 24. Be6 h4 25. Bh3 Re7 26. Bc8 {[#]} h3 $3 {This is standard technique for such positions - Black gets rid of the pawn, but can then attack the enemy king from all directions (the pawn acted as a shelter for the white king!).} 27. Bxh3 (27. Kxh3 Rg7 28. Ba6 Rg3+ 29. Kh2 Kf3 30. Bc4 Kf2 31. Ba2 Rd3 32. Bb1 Rd1 33. Bc2 Rd2 34. Bf5 Rd5 35. Bg4 Rd6 36. Bh5 Rh6 $19 {.}) 27... Re2+ 28. Kg1 Kf3 $1 29. Bd7 Rg2+ 30. Kf1 Rf2+ 31. Ke1 Ke3 32. Be6 Rf6 33. Bd5 Rd6 34. Bf7 Rd7 35. Be6 Re7 36. Bh3 Rh7 37. Bg2 Ra7 38. Kd1 Ra1+ 39. Kc2 Ra2+ 40. Kb3 Rxg2 0-1

By now we have understood the motif that leads to the trivial win. Well, not that trivial, since the rook side has to be careful to avoid some tactical ‘problems’ and some drawn positions. Surely, the defence is extremely difficult for the defender as well; this is not a picnic, but on the other hand, he has nothing to lose but a lost position!

The next game is another classical example where the winning method was applied — study it carefully:

[Event "Goglidze Memorial"] [Site "Tbilisi"] [Date "1971.10.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Radev, Nikolai"] [Black "Pribyl, Josef"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A08"] [Annotator "Efstratios Grivas"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "1971.10.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "URS"] [SourceTitle "Rook vs Bishop - Advert"] [Source "Grivas CIA"] [SourceDate "2017.09.14"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O O-O 5. d3 c5 6. e4 Nc6 7. Nbd2 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Nc4 e5 10. Re1 Re8 11. a4 b6 12. Nfd2 Be6 13. Ne4 h6 14. a5 Qc7 15. Ned6 Reb8 16. Nb5 Qd8 17. a6 Qd7 18. Bd2 Kh7 19. c3 Rd8 20. Qa4 Qe7 21. Rab1 Rac8 22. b4 Ndxb4 23. Nxb6 axb6 24. cxb4 Rxd3 25. Be3 Bd5 26. Bxd5 Rxd5 27. bxc5 bxc5 28. a7 Qd8 29. Nc7 Qxc7 30. a8=Q Rxa8 31. Qxa8 Rd8 32. Rb7 Rxa8 33. Rxc7 Nd4 34. Bxd4 exd4 35. Rxc5 Ra7 36. Rd5 h5 37. Re8 Bf6 38. h4 Kg7 39. Rc8 Re7 40. Kf1 Kh7 41. Rcd8 Re5 42. R8d7 Rxd5 43. Rxd5 Bg7 44. Ke2 d3+ 45. Kxd3 f5 46. f4 Kg8 47. Rd7 Bb2 48. Kc4 Kf8 49. Kd5 Kg8 50. Ke6 Bc3 51. Rd3 Bb2 {(D) [#] } 52. g4 $1 hxg4 ({A tougher defence is} 52... fxg4 53. f5 gxf5 54. Kxf5 Kf7 { and now White has two winning continuations:} (54... Ba1 55. Kg6 $18) {b)} 55. Kg5 ({a)} 55. Rd7+ Kf8 (55... Ke8 56. Rh7 g3 57. Rxh5 Bc1 58. Kf6 (58. Rh7 $2 Bg5 $1 $11) 58... Kd7 (58... g2 59. Rh8+ Kd7 60. Rg8 $18) (58... Bb2+ 59. Ke6 $18) 59. Rd5+ Ke8 (59... Kc6 60. Rd8 Be3 61. Rg8 $18) 60. Re5+ Kd7 (60... Kf8 61. Rc5 Bb2+ 62. Kg6 $18) 61. Re4 Ba3 62. Rg4 $18) 56. Kg6 $1 (56. Rh7 $2 g3 57. Rxh5 Bc1 (57... Kf7 58. Rg5 Bf6 59. Rg4 Ke7 60. h5 $18) 58. Kf6 Kg8 (58... Bb2+ 59. Kg6 Bc1 60. Rf5+ Ke7 61. Rf3 $18) 59. Rc5 Be3 (59... Bb2+ 60. Kg6 $18) 60. Rc7 (60. Rc4 Bf2 61. Rg4+ Kh7 62. h5 Kh6 $11) 60... Bb6 $1 (60... Bd4+ $2 61. Kg6 Kf8 62. Rc2 Ke7 (62... Bf2 63. Re2 $1 $18) 63. Re2+ Kd6 64. Rg2 Bf2 65. h5 Ke5 66. h6 Kf4 67. h7 Bd4 68. Kh5 Kf3 69. Rd2 Bf6 70. Rd6 Be5 71. Rd3+ Kf2 72. Kg4 g2 73. Rd2+ Kf1 74. Kf3 $18) 61. Rg7+ (61. Rb7 g2 62. Rg7+ Kf8 63. Rxg2 Bd8+ $11) (61. Rc2 Kh7 $1 62. Kf5 Bf2 $11) 61... Kf8 62. Rxg3 Bd8+ $11) 56... g3 57. Rd5 Bc1 {(D) [#]} 58. Rd8+ $1 {(an important intermediate check that prevents the bishop from accessing e3 in the future -} (58. Rd3 Bf4 59. Rd8+ $1 (59. Rf3 $2 g2 60. Rxf4+ Kg8 61. Kxh5 g1=Q 62. Rg4+ Qxg4+ 63. Kxg4 $11) (59. Rd1 $2 Be3 $1 $11) 59... Ke7 60. Rd1 $18) 58... Ke7 59. Rd1 Ba3 (59... Be3 60. Re1 $18) (59... Bf4 60. Kxh5 $18) 60. Rg1 $1 (60. Kxh5 $2 Bc5 $11) 60... Bd6 61. Kxh5 Kf6 62. Kg4 Kg6 63. Re1 Bb8 64. h5+ Kh6 65. Re6+ Kh7 66. Rg6 Bc7 67. Kf5 Bb8 68. Rb6 $1 $18 {.}) 55... Be5 56. Kxh5 g3 57. Rd2 Kf6 58. Kg4 Kg6 59. Re2 Bb8 60. h5+ Kh6 61. Re6+ Kh7 62. Rg6 Bc7 63. Kf5 Bb8 64. Rb6 $1 $18 {.} ( 64. h6 Bf4 (64... Be5 65. Kg5 Bf4+ 66. Kh5 $18) 65. Kf6 Bc1 66. Rxg3 Bb2+ 67. Kg5 Bc1+ 68. Kh5 Bxh6 69. Rc3 Bd2 (69... Bg7 70. Rc7 Kg8 71. Kg6 $18) (69... Bf4 70. Rf3 Be5 71. Rf7+ Kg8 72. Kg6 $18) 70. Rc7+ Kg8 71. Kg6 Kf8 72. Kf6 $1 Ke8 73. Ke6 Kf8 (73... Kd8 74. Rd7+ $18) 74. Rf7+ Kg8 (74... Ke8 75. Rf2 Be3 76. Re2 $18) 75. Kf6 $18)) 53. h5 {(D) [#]} Kg7 ({Or} 53... gxh5 54. Kxf5 Kg7 ( 54... Bc1 55. Kg6 Kf8 56. f5 $18) 55. Rd7+ Kh6 (55... Kg8 56. Kg6 $18) (55... Kf8 56. Rh7 $18) 56. Rd6+ Kh7 (56... Kg7 57. Kg5 Bc1 58. Rd3 $18) 57. Kg5 Bc1 58. Rh6+ Kg8 59. Rxh5 $18 {.}) 54. hxg6 Kxg6 55. Rd5 Bc1 ({Black cannot be saved by either} 55... Kh5 56. Kxf5 Kh4 (56... g3 57. Rd1 $18) 57. Rd6 $1 Bc1 ( 57... Kh3 58. Rh6+ Kg3 59. Rg6 $18) 58. Rh6+ Kg3 59. Rg6 $18 {.}) 56. Rxf5 Bxf4 ({Or} 56... Kh6 57. Ke5 Bd2 58. Rg5 $18 {.}) 57. Rxf4 Kg5 58. Ke5 g3 59. Ke4 g2 60. Rf8 Kh4 61. Rg8 {A model game to study and understand. After all you will have to play this ending with the 30 seconds increment…} 1-0

Now let’s check the game played on September 8th, 46 years later, in the same town:

[Event "FIDE World Cup"] [Site "Tbilisi"] [Date "2017.09.08"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Rapport, Richard"] [Black "Wei, Yi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D30"] [WhiteElo "2675"] [BlackElo "2748"] [Annotator "Efstratios Grivas"] [PlyCount "128"] [EventDate "2017.09.08"] [EventCountry "GEO"] [SourceTitle "Rook vs Bishop - Advert"] [Source "Grivas CIA"] [SourceDate "2017.09.14"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. d4 d5 4. Bg5 h6 5. Bxf6 Qxf6 6. e3 c6 7. Bd3 g6 8. O-O Bg7 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Rc1 Nd7 11. Re1 Qd8 12. Qb3 a5 13. e4 a4 14. Qa3 dxe4 15. Nxe4 e5 16. Nd6 exd4 17. c5 Nf6 18. Bc4 Nd5 19. Bxd5 cxd5 20. b4 b6 21. Red1 Bg4 22. h3 Bxf3 23. Qxf3 bxc5 24. bxc5 Qg5 25. g3 Be5 26. h4 Qf6 27. Qxf6 Bxf6 28. c6 Be5 29. Nb5 Ra5 30. c7 Rxb5 31. c8=Q Rxc8 32. Rxc8+ Kg7 33. Ra8 Rb4 34. Ra5 Bc7 35. Rxd5 Rb2 36. R5xd4 Rxa2 37. R4d2 Ra3 38. Rd3 Rxd3 39. Rxd3 h5 40. Ra3 Bd6 41. Rxa4 Bc5 {[#]As analysed above, this position is theoretically won. But the rook side has to know the only winning plan, starting with a well-timed g4!. The weakest side can only hope to establish a fortress if the white pawn structure is damaged but in cases like here, the position is theoretically won.} 42. Kg2 Bb6 43. Ra2 Bd4 44. Kf3 f5 45. Rd2 Be5 46. Rd5 Kf6 47. Ra5 Ke6 48. Ra6+ Kf7 49. Ke3 Bc3 50. f4 Bf6 51. Kd3 Bb2 52. Kc4 Bf6 53. Rc6 $1 {The rook takes control over c3, so White will not have to watch out for counterplay connected with ...Bc3 and ...Be1.} Bb2 54. Kd5 Kg7 55. Ke6 Bd4 56. Rc7+ Kg8 57. Rd7 Bc3 58. Rd3 Bb2 {The white king is on its perfect square but cannot make any progress. Black has established a temporary fortress as the black bishop stays on the long diagonal and covers the f6-square while the black king keeps an eye on f7. In order to win, White has to break through...} 59. g4 $1 hxg4 ({Not the most stubborn defence. A better try was} 59... fxg4 60. f5 gxf5 61. Kxf5 Kf7 62. Kg5 Be5 63. Kxh5 g3 {, when Black gets some counterplay but the white rook easily stops the pawn:} 64. Rd2 Kf6 65. Kg4 Kg6 66. Re2 Bb8 67. h5+ Kh6 68. Re6+ Kh7 69. Rg6 $1 {(the perfect square for the rook. It controls the g pawn and the white king can move forward)} Bc7 70. Kf5 Bb8 71. Rb6 $1 {and the black bishop is trapped as there are not enough squares on the diagonal.}) 60. h5 Kg7 61. Rd7+ Kh6 62. hxg6 Kxg6 63. Rf7 Bc1 ( 63... Kh5 {is a last try, but White wins anyway:} 64. Kxf5 Kh4 65. Rb7 Bd4 66. Rd7 Bb2 67. Rd6 $1 Bc1 68. Rh6+ Kg3 69. Rg6 $18 {.}) 64. Rxf5 Kh6 ({And Black resigned.} 64... Bxf4 {was Pribyl's try, but the white king is too close to g1: } 65. Rxf4 Kg5 66. Ke5 g3 67. Ke4 g2 68. Rf8 Kh4 69. Rg8 {1-0 Radev,N-Pribyl,J Tbilisi 1971.}) 1-0

Chess Endgames 11 - Rook against Bishop

The more reduced the material, the more important it is to correctly assess the potential of your own and the enemy pieces. This is particularly true in endgames with unbalanced material. This DVD begins with a discussion of asymmetrical material balances, including
rook against bishop, rook and knight against two bishops, two rooks against rook and bishop, queen and rook against queen and bishop, rook and knight against bishop and knight, rook against two bishops.
Video running time: 8 hours 26 min.

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Efstratios Grivas (30.03.1966) is a highly experienced chess trainer and chess author. He has been awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) the titles of International Chess Grandmaster, FIDE Senior Trainer, International Chess Arbiter and International Chess Organiser. He has written 95 Books in Arabic, English, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish. Since 2009 he is the Secretary of the FIDE Trainers’ Commission and since 2012 the Director of the FIDE Grivas Chess International Academy, in Athens.
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