Rook And Bishop vs Rook

Would you like to win your rook and bishop vs rook endings? I'll show you the winning method here.

It starts from a Philidor Position.

Only if you reached this favourable position already, a win is possible.

From a normal starting position, a winning position can't be forced, as the defender has two reliable defensive methods at his disposal.

Winning with Rook And Bishop vs Rook

And here it is...

This is a position you'll want to reach if you're trying to win this ending.

Philidor published this winning method in 1792, so it's already known for a long time.

There are two tasks you have to perform in order to win this ending.

Task nr.1: Take control of the seventh rank.

Task nr.2: Set up your pieces to block the defending rook.

How can this be done? I'm glad you asked....

Task nr.1: Take control of the seventh rank.

In the initial position you have to play 1.Rf8!.

This forces the black rook away from the seventh rank.

1....Re8;

Now you're able to take control of the seventh rank and finish the first task with

2. Rf7!.

Task nr.2: Set up your pieces to block the defending rook.

It all depends on Black's next move now. I'll give you four variations.

Variation nr.1: 2...Rh8; (not so good, see below)

Variation nr.2: 2...Re2; (the best defence, you'll have to know how to break this!)

Variation nr.3: 2...Re1;

Variation nr.4: 2...Re3;

Variation nr.1: 2....Rh8;

3.Ra7,

White threatens mate. Black has only one move to prevent an immediate loss.

3....Rh6+;

This check only helps until the next move.

4.Be6,

This effectively blocks Black's rook.

The mating threat is renewed and Black is left without any useful defence.

White wins comfortably this way.

Variation nr.2: 2....Re2;

This variation reveals all parts of the winning process. It takes some time to set the white pieces up for the win....

3.Rh7 (forcing the black rook to leave its optimal e2-square),

3....Re1;

4. Rb7 (The rook has to be on b7 or f7 to make the winning process work),

4....Rc1;

5. Bb3 (this brings black in Zugzwang),

5....Rc3;

6. Be6 (threatening mate),

6....Rd3+;

This was the only defensive move that doesn't lose immediately.

7.Bd5!, Rc3;

White has created a position where the winning sequence is clear now.

But...

This winning sequence isn't easy to discover during the game.

So...

You'll have to know it in advance (study it now!).

8.Rd7+, Kc8;

9.Rh7 (forcing the king towards the right square), Kb8;

10. Rb7+, Kc8 (due to a discovered attack it can't go to a8);

11.Rb4! (a move to remember!)

The black rook can't leave the c-file (due to 12.Ra4) and in the meantime White threatens to start mating with Be6.

11....Kd8;

12.Bc4 (blocking the rook and threatening mate), Kc8;

And here it's mate in three.

13.Be6+, Kd8;

14. Rb8+, Rc8; 15.Rxc8#.

Variation nr.3: 2....Re1;

3. Bf3,

and White wins as in the previous variation.

Variation nr.4: 2....Re3;

3. Rd7+, Ke8;

Kc8 would allow White to win (starting 4. Ra7, with a possible mate in four after 4... Rb3; 5.Ra8+,Rb8; 6.Be6+, Kd8; 7.Rxb8# ).

Now there's another winning idea.

4. Ra7, Kf8;

5. Rf7+, Ke8;

6. Rf4!!, Kd8;

7. Be4!! and winning.

We've seen this beautiful move before. It blocks the black rook effectively. Mate is now threatened and the only thing Black can do about it is to give up his rook. Black is lost.



Conclusion

The endgame of rook and bishop vs rook may be won if

a. the defender doesn't know the defensive methods or

b. if a favorable position is already there.

You now know the winning method, so you might as well try to win this endgame when it shows up in your over the board game.



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