Grivas teaches: Rook vs Bishop (3)

by Efstratios Grivas
9/18/2017 – The FIDE World Cup in Tbilisi is turning into a master class for the endgame rook vs bishop: Last week French GM Maxime Vachier Lagrave held a theoretically lost tiebreak game against Russian GM Alexander Grischuk and thus qualified for the next round. Where did Grischuk go wrong and how could he have won? World-class trainer Efstratios Grivas show you how — and gives you the chance to win rating points in the process.

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Rook vs bishop

1 vs 1 pawns, same side

By GM Efstratios Grivas

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

Before we start you may like to try your hand at the ending, playing the theoretically won rook vs bishop position against a chess engine. Perhaps you can do better than the Russian GM?!

Were you able to win? Here's a detailed analysis of how the decisive Grand Prix game went:

[Event "FIDE World Cup"] [Site "Tbilisi"] [Date "2017.09.14"] [Round "4.6"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A34"] [WhiteElo "2783"] [BlackElo "2789"] [Annotator "Efstratios Grivas"] [PlyCount "187"] [EventDate "2017.09.14"] [EventCountry "GEO"] [SourceTitle "Rook vs Bishop - Advert"] [Source "Grivas CIA"] [SourceDate "2017.09.14"] 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. d3 Nge7 5. g3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. Bg2 Nc7 8. O-O Be7 9. Nd2 O-O 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qa4 Rb8 12. Nc4 Rb4 13. Qa5 f6 14. b3 Bh3 15. Re1 Qb8 16. Ba3 Rb5 17. Nxb5 cxb5 18. Ne3 Qb7 19. f3 b4 20. Bb2 Na6 21. g4 h5 22. a3 Bd8 23. Qa4 hxg4 24. axb4 Nxb4 25. Qxa7 Qxa7 26. Rxa7 gxf3 27. Kf2 fxe2 28. Kxe2 Be6 29. Bc3 Bxb3 30. Rb1 Bf7 31. Bxb4 cxb4 32. Rxb4 f5 33. Rb8 e4 34. Raa8 exd3+ 35. Kxd3 Be7 36. Nxf5 Bg6 37. Rxf8+ Bxf8 38. Ke4 Kf7 39. Ke5 Bxf5 40. Kxf5 g6+ 41. Kg5 Bc5 {[#]The position is theoretically won for White.} 42. Kh6 $1 ({And this is the only way! Wrong would be} 42. Ra6 $2 Be3+ $1 43. Kg4 Bd4 {, creating a well-known fortress, with a draw!}) 42... Be3+ 43. Kh7 g5 44. Kh6 ({Not bad, but more 'secure' and clear would be} 44. h3 Bf4 45. Ra6 Be3 46. Ra3 Bd2 47. Rf3+ Ke6 48. Kg6 {. The simplest White's plan is to drive now the black king away to the queenside, cut him off and then return to capture the black pawn with the rook, while the black king wouldn't be able to reach the g8/h8 squares.}) 44... Bf4 45. Ra2 g4+ 46. Kh5 g3 47. h3 Be3 48. Kg4 Bf2 49. Kf3 Kg6 50. Ra5 Kh6 51. Rb5 Kg6 52. Rd5 Kh6 53. Re5 Kg6 54. Rb5 Kh6 55. Rb4 Kg5 {[#]} 56. Rg4+ $1 {After some 'tries', White found the correct square for the rook; on the g-file to stop the advance of the g-pawn, freeing the white king.} Kh6 57. Ke4 Be1 58. Kf5 Bf2 59. Rg6+ Kh7 ({If} 59... Kh5 {, then White wins by} 60. Rg4 Kh6 61. Rg8 $1 Be1 (61... Kh7 62. Rg6 {is the game}) 62. Rh8+ Kg7 63. Re8 Bf2 64. Re6 Kf7 (64... Kh7 65. Rg6 {is the game}) 65. Rg6 Be1 66. h4 g2 67. h5 $18 {.}) 60. Kf6 (60. h4 $2 Be1 61. h5 Bf2 (61... Kh8 $2 62. Re6 Bf2 63. Kg6 {mates}) 62. Kf6 Be1 {is a draw. White must not push his h-pawn too quickly...}) 60... Bd4+ 61. Kf7 Bf2 62. Kf6 Bd4+ 63. Kf5 Bf2 {[#]} 64. h4 $2 ({A ‘decisive’ mistake! White’s winning plans are: 1. Either to kick the black king away from the h/g files and for this he will need his king on the h-file before anything else. 2. Either to restrict the black king on his last rank and then simply push his h-pawn, assisting by his king, creating a mating net. But for the second plan Black must ‘cooperate’ so the first plan is the ‘forcing’ one! But why White cannot execute his winning plan? Because in certain variations a rook-check on h4 is needed to drive the black king away! A very delicate detail, which certainly you can’t understand it if you haven’t studied the position beforehand and in depth… So, White could win with} 64. Rg5 Kh6 65. Rg8 Kh7 66. Rg6 $1 {(zugzwang!)} Be1 (66... Kh8 67. Rg4 Kh7 68. Kf6 Be1 {[#]} 69. Rh4+ $1 {(with the white pawn on h4 this check is not possible…)} Kg8 70. Kg6 Bf2 (70... g2 71. Rg4 $18) 71. Re4 Kf8 72. Re2 Bd4 73. h4 $18) 67. Kg5 Bf2 68. Kh5 Be1 69. Rg4 Bf2 70. h4 Be1 71. Re4 Bf2 72. Re7+ Kg8 73. Kg6 $1 Kf8 74. Re2 $18 {.}) 64... Be1 65. h5 Bf2 66. Kf4 Be1 67. Kf3 {[#]} Bf2 $1 ({The only way! The black king must stay on h7:} 67... Kh8 $2 {loses to} 68. Re6 $1 Bf2 69. Re7 $1 Kg8 70. Rb7 Kh8 71. h6 Kg8 72. Rg7+ Kh8 73. Ke4 Be1 74. Kf4 Bf2 75. Kf5 Be1 76. Kg6 Bf2 77. h7 {.}) 68. Ke2 Kh8 69. Kf3 Kh7 $1 70. Kf4 Be1 71. Kg4 {[#]} Bf2 $1 ({The only way to defend! If the black king retreats to his last rank, White is winning by the above mentioned plan 2:} 71... Kh8 $2 72. h6 Bf2 73. Kh5 $1 Kh7 74. Rg5 Be1 75. Rg7+ Kh8 76. Kg6 $18 {.}) 72. Kf5 Be1 73. Kf4 Bf2 $1 (73... Kh8 $2 74. h6 $1 Kh7 75. Kg5 $18 {.}) 74. Ke5 Be1 75. Kf6 Bf2 76. Kf5 Be1 77. Kg5 Bf2 78. Kf5 Be1 79. Ke4 Bf2 80. Kf3 Be1 81. Re6 Bf2 82. h6 {[#]White made some progress, limiting Black's answers to only one good move...} Bc5 $1 (82... Kh8 $2 { now loses to} 83. Re7 $1 Kg8 84. Rg7+ Kh8 85. Ke4 {and so on.}) 83. Kxg3 Bf8 84. Kg4 Bxh6 {Now White's only chance lies on the fact that the corner side is 'wrong' for the bishop. As it is well-known, plain rook vs bishop is drawn when the defending king can escape on the opposite colour corner of his bishop. } 85. Kf5 Bd2 86. Kf6 {(D) [#]} Kh6 $1 (86... Kg8 $1 {is also OK:} 87. Re7 Bc3+ $1 (87... Bb4 $2 88. Rf7 $1 $18 {, as the black king is trapped on the wrong corner!}) 88. Kg6 Kf8 $1 {, and the black king is safely heading for the 'correct' corner.}) ({Note that} 86... Ba5 $2 {is losing to} 87. Kf7 $1 { , trapping the black king into the wrong corner!}) 87. Rc6 Kh5 88. Kf5 {[#]} Kh4 $1 ({Again the only move! A bishop move like} 88... Bb4 $2 {, loses to} 89. Rb6 Bc5 90. Rb5 $1 Bf8 91. Rb8 Bg7 92. Rb1 $18 {.}) 89. Rc2 Be3 90. Re2 Bb6 91. Re6 Bc7 92. Rc6 Bb8 93. Rc3 Bg3 94. Rxg3 {Nothing to do anymore, so White 'accepted' the draw...} 1/2-1/2


The initial diagrammed position is of course winning for White, but how to play accurate till the end with limited time – after all this was a rapid game… The only way to do it is to have made your homework and know exactly what and how to do it.

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.


Efstratios (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.


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