Women’s Candidates Tournament
Rook and Pawn endgames can be a real BITCH! Especially the double-Rook variety. We all take for granted that no grandmaster should lose a 4 versus 3 (all on the same side) when each has a single Rook, but what of the case when each has two Rooks?
Despite of the fact that they often occur in praxis, theory has largely ignored them. We understand that having the extra Rook gives more possibilites, but mere generalities are not the same thing as concrete principles and accurate analysis.
In the 5th round game of the Women’s Candidates Tournament between Russia’s Alexandra Goryachkina and China’s Tan Zhongyi an interesting double-Rook ending occurred as early as the 25th move.
I want to take a closer look at certain points of this ending as the play developed. But first I would like to point out some of the difficulties that the defence encounters should his position become passive.
(Note: I am using the sophisticated RPB plugin. Just click on any move and a floating diagram will appear, and you can follow the game using it!)
gm Petrosian,T – gm Balashov,A
Beautiful technique! The lesson to be drawn from this game is that the Black Rook on f8 was unable to participate in Black’s search for counterplay. Much better , for the defence, is to have the Rook on f6 or f5 instead of f8.
In this way it might be able to co-ordinate with the other Black Rook in getting counterplay, and hence increase Black’s chances of saving the game. Certainly, White would find it much more difficult to execute the same plan (advancing his pawns) as Petrosian was able to.
This idea was successful in the famous Geller–Fischer game from the 1970 Interzonal ( even though Geller later blundered horribly and lost in one move!).
gm Geller,E – gm Fischer,R
Majorca Izt 1970
Despite the misfortune at the end, Geller’s plan of defending his f-pawn with the Rook infront (instead of from behind, as in the Petrosian-Balashov game) and then harrassing the Black pawns with both Rooks is a marked improvement in the defence.
Now let’s take a look at the Goryachkina versus Tan ending:
gm Goryachkina,A – gm Tan, Z
A very interesting ending! Lots of material to study, if we had the time. I trust you learned something useful for your own games.