Rook vs Single Pawn

Here you'll find some interesting rook endings. The ending of rook vs single pawn is certainly worth looking at. You'll get to know some rules which may prove useful in other endings as well.

Example nr.1

The black pawn is advancing rapidly. Is there a way to stop it without losing the rook? 

Yes there is. It's called cutting off Black's king (maybe you've seen this before?).

White has to play1.Rg5!

Now the black king can't support the pawn. The pawn can run, but it isn't going to reach the other side.  

After 1....c3; you have two ways to stop it.

variation 1:  2.Rg3, c2; 3.Rc3, c1Q; 4.Rxc1, and the pawn is gone.

variation 2: 2. Kg7, c2; 3.Rg1, Kd4; 4.Rc1, winning the pawn next move.

Rule: cut off the king when possible. To win the game, the cut has to be made along the fifth rank (or higher).

Example nr.2

Here the rook can't cut off the king like before, because the king can move around the pawn to the b-file.

Nevertheless the move 1.Rg5! is the winning move. Now the pawn can't advance without being lost (as you've seen in the previous example). So the black king has to move to the b-file to support the pawn. 

This buys you some extra time to bring your king over to stop the pawn.

1...Kc6; 2. Kg7, Kb5; 3. Kf6, 

rook vs single pawn 1a

The pawn isn't able to move yet and your king will be in time to stop it.

3...Kb4; 4.Ke5,

rook vs single pawn 1b

And in this position you'll always be able to win the pawn and the game.

Rule: get your king to the scene of the action and win the pawn. 

Example nr.3

We've just seen the white king intruding. This helped White to win the pawn. 

If you're defending, you should try to keep the other king out as long as possible.

This is called shouldering away (or a bodycheck).

rook vs single pawn 2

White's rook already controls the queening square. He now wants to bring his king over and win the pawn. 

If you're playing Black, you want to prevent this from happening. Therefore you have to play 1....Kf3!

This blocks your pawn, but it makes a bodycheck possible.

after 2.Kc5, you can now play 2...Ke3.

rook vs single pawn 2b

First variation: 3.Ra3+, Ke4!; 4.Kc4, f3!; 5. Ra8, f2;

Second variation: 3.Kd5, f3; 4.Ra3+,Ke2; 5.Ke4, f2; 6. Ra2+, Ke1; 7.Ke3, f1N+;

The underpromotion will save you.

Rule: keep the opponent's king out with bodychecks.

Rule: minor promotion to a knight may save the game.

Example nr.4

rook vs single pawn 3

Here the white king can't approach (Black is performing a bodycheck). 

White wants to get his king in because that's the only way to win. This can be achieved by 1.Rb7!

rook vs single pawn 3a

Now the black king has to move and the white king can go to the other side of the pawn.

1...Kc4; 2.Kb6, b3; 3. Ka5, 

rook vs single pawn 3b

3....Kc3; 4. Ka4, and winning.

Rule: Winning a tempo can be crucial (to get your king in)

Rule: If the defending king is on one side of the pawn, the attacking king has to approach the pawn on the other side.

Conclusion

In the rook vs single pawn endgame, the rook side usually wins if his king is able to help and win the pawn.

There are some useful rules that apply to this type of endgame.

As an attacker:

Rule: Use your rook to cut off the king when possible. To win the game, the cut has to be made along the fifth rank (or higher).

Rule: Get your king to the scene of the action and win the pawn. 

Rule: Winning a tempo can be crucial (to get your king in)

Rule: If the defending king is on one side of the pawn, the attacking king has to approach the pawn on the other side.

As a defender:

Rule: Keep the opponent's king out with bodychecks.

Rule: minor promotion to a knight may save the game.


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