I like heavy endings, that is with queens and rooks. Not too many books deal with these types of endings, leaving the student with many questions unanswered.
Here is one type that interests me. It comes in form of a question.
Which is stronger in the endgame, a queen or two rooks? Here’s an introduction.
Let’s first look at four well-established guidelines for these types of endings.
(1) If the rooks are not connected, then the side with the single queen has the advantage.
(2) If the rooks are connected, then that side has the advantage.
(3) The advantage always lies with the player who has the initiative.
(4) Having the advantage that does not mean that side can win the game.
Here’s the first example.
[White, with the single queen, is the one with the initiative but cannot break through the Black’s defence. Neither side is in real danger as Queen versus two connected Rooks endings, with nothing else on the board, are almost always drawn.]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Qf3 Rb8 9.Bxc6+ Nxc6 10.Qxc6+ Nd7 11.d4 Be7 12.Nf3 Rb6 13.Qa4 exd4 14.O-O (Tempting is 14.Nxd4. But after 14… Rb4 15.Nc6 Rxa4 16.Nxd8 Bxd8, Black wins a piece. And after 14.Qxd4 O-O 15.O-O Bc5, White’s queen gets kicked around.) 14…O-O 15.a3 Bf6 16.b4 Ba6 17.Re1 Bc4 18.Qxa7 Qc8 19.Bf4 Rb7 20.Qa5 Bb5 21.Bg5 Bxg5 22.Nxg5 Nb8 23.Ne4 Nc6 24.Nd6 Qd7 25.Qxb5 [Surely better is 25.Nxb5 Ra7 (25…d3 26.cxd3 Rxb5 27.Qxb5 Qd4 28.Nd2) 26.Qb6 Rb8 27.Qc5 +-] 25…Rxb5 26.Nxb5 Nxb4 27.Nxd4 Qxd4 28.c3 Qf6 29.axb4 g6 30.Ra2 Rd8 31.Rc2 Qe6 32.Rec1 Qe4 33.Nd2 Qe2 34.Nf1 Qb5 35.Rb2 Qg5 36.Rbb1 f5 37.c4 f4 38.Rc3 Qf5 39.Rbc1 Rb8 40.Rb3 Qg5 41.Rcb1 Qf5 42.c5 g5 43.h3 h5 44.c6 Qb5 45.Rc3 Kf7 46.Rc5 Qd3 47.c7 Rc8 48.Rbc1 g4 49.R1c3 Qb1 50.hxg4 hxg4 51.R5c4 Qf5 52.g3 fxg3 53.Nxg3 Qd5 54.Rc5 Qd1+ 55.Kg2 Qa4 56.b5 Qa8+ 57.Kg1 Ke6 58.Rc6+ Kd7 59.Ne4 Qa1+ 60.Kg2 Qb1 61.Nf6+ Ke7 62.b6 Rh8 63.Rc1 (63.Nd5+ Kf7 64.Rf6+ Kg7) 63…Qf5 64.Ng8+ Rxg8 65.c8=Q Rxc8 66.Rxc8 Qf3+ 67.Kg1 g3 68.R8c7+ Kd6 69.R1c2 gxf2+ 70.Kf1 Qd3+ 71.Kxf2 Qd4+ 72.Kf1 Qxb6
73.R7c3 (Simply 73.Rc6+ draws.) 73…Qb5+ 74.Ke1 Qe5+ 75.Kd1 Qh5+ 76.Re2 [76.Kc1 Qh1+ (76…Qg5+ 77.Kd1 Qg1+ 78.Kd2 Kd5 79.Rc5+ Kd4 80.R5c4+ Kd5 81.Rc5+) 77.Kb2 Qb7+ 78.Kc1]76…Qh1+ 77.Kc2 Qa1 78.Rd3+ Kc5 79.Rb3 Qa2+ 80.Rb2 Qa4+ 81.Kc1 Qa1+ 82.Kc2 Qa4+ 83.Kd2 Qd4+ 84.Kc1 Qf4+ 85.Kb1 Qf1+ 86.Ka2 Qf7+ 87.Rb3 Qa7+ 88.Kb2 Qg7+ 89.Rc3+ Kb4 90.Re4+ Kb5 91.Rc4 Qe5 92.Rc8 [Again, a simple draw can be found with a check (92.Rc5+ =)]92…Qe2+ 93.Rc2 Qe5+ 94.Kb1 Qe1+ 95.Kb2 Qe5+ 96.R2c3 Qe2+ 97.Ka3 Qe7+ 98.Ka2 Qe2+ 99.Rc2 (99.Rc5+ is yet another draw.) 99…Qe6+ 100.Kb1 Qe1+ 101.Kb2 Qe5+ 102.R2c3 Qe2+ 103.Kb1 Qe1+ 104.Ka2 Qe2+ 105.Rc2 Qe6+ 106.Kb1 Qe1+ 107.Rc1 Qe4+ 108.R8c2 (Passive, but still enough to draw. 108.R1c2 is better, as White still has a possible check if necessary.) 108…Kb4 109.Ka1 Qd4+ 110.Ka2 Qd5+ 111.Kb1 Qd3 112.Kb2 Qd4+ 113.Ka2 Qd5+ 114.Ka1 Qd4+ 115.Kb1 Qd3 116.Kb2 Qd4+ 117.Kb1 Qd3 118.Kb2 Qd4+ 119.Ka2 Qd5+ 120.Kb1 Qd3 1/2-1/2
Adding a single pawn to either side obviously increases the chances for that side. The plan should always try to push the pawn towards a promotion.
Adding two isolated pawns to the side with the Queen, the result is almost always a win, even without a promotion.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.O-O Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 12.Bg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 h6 14.Qe2 hxg5 15.Re1 Kf8 16.Rxe7 Be6 17.Rxe6 fxe6 18.dxe6 Qf6 19.e7+ Ke8 20.Qc2 c6 21.Ba6 bxa6 22.Qxc6+ Kf7 23.Qd5+ Kg6 24.Re6 Rae8 25.Qxd6 Kf7 26.Rxf6+ gxf6 27.Qxa6 Rxe7 28.g3 Rc7 29.Qd6 Rhc8 30.Qd4 Rc1+ 31.Kg2 R8c7 32.h4 gxh4 33.Qxh4 R1c2 34.g4 Kg7 35.g5 fxg5 36.Qxg5+ Kf8 37.Qd8+ Kf7 38.b4 Ke6 39.Qg8+ Kf6 40.Qd5 Rg7+ 41.Kf3 Rcc7 42.Kf4 Rge7 43.a4 Kg7 44.b5 Kf8 45.f3 Ke8 46.a5 Rf7+ 47.Kg3 Rg7+ 48.Kf2 Rc2+ 49.Ke3 Re7+ 50.Kd3 Rcc7 51.Qg8+ Kd7 52.b6 axb6 53.axb6 Rb7
54.Qd5+ Ke8 55.Qc6+ Rbd7+ 56.Kc4 Kf8 57.f4 Rf7 58.f5 Kg7 59.Qg6+ Kf8 60.f6 Rb7 61.Qh6+ Kg8 62.Qg5+ Kf8 63.Qe5 Kg8 64.Kc5 Rf8 65.Qd5+ Rff7 66.Qf3 Kh7 67.Qg2 Kh6 68.Kc6 Rh7 69.Kd5 Rhf7 70.Ke6 1-0
GM Jansa (2455)-GM A. Soklov (2570)
[It would be hard to expand on the notation. GM Jansa annotated this ending in I/50, Ending # 13.]
1…Ka7! [1…Rfc5+ 2.Kd4 Rxa5 (2…Ka7 3.Qe7+ +-) 3.Qa8+ +- ; 1…Rf4+? 2.Kd3 +-] 2.a6!? [2.c7 Rfc5+ 3.Kd4 Rd5+! 4.Qxd5 Rxd5+ 5.Kxd5 Kb7 6.Kd6 Kc8= ; 2.Qe7+ Ka6 3.c7 Rfc5+ 4.Kd4 Rd5+ 5.Ke4 Re5+ 6.Qxe5 Rxe5+ 7.Kxe5 Kb7=] 2…Rfc5+ (2…Kxa6? 3.Qa8+ Kb6 4.Qb7+ +- ; 2…Rbc5+? 3.Kd4 Kxa6 4.Qa8+ Kb6 5.Qb7+ Ka5 6.c7 +-) 3.Kd4 Kxa6? [3…Rxc6? 4.Qd7+ Kb6 5.Qb7+ ; 3…Rc1? 4.Qe7+! Kxa6 (4…Ka8 5.c7 +-) 5.Qa3+ +- ; 3…Rc2! 4.Qe7+ (4.c7 Rbc5= ; 4.Qc8!? Rbb2!=) 4…Kxa6 5.c7 Rbc5 6.Qxc5 Rxc5 7.Kxc5 Kb7=] 4.Qa8+ Kb6 5.Qb7+ Ka5 6.Qa7+ Kb4 7.Qe7! (7…Ra5 8.c7) 1-0
With two isolated pawns with the two rooks, a win for that side is the most likely outcome. But examples are hard to find. We’ll cover more in a later post.