1 Q vs. 2 R

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.


Detroit, 1990
[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.


corres., 1991
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)
Gausdal, 1990
[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.

Two Dances Of The Endgame



If you are fortunate to be a Queen ahead at the end of the game, congratulations! It means that you should be able to checkmate the enemy King.


There are many books that can show you how to checkmate, but I prefer this method.


It’s called the dance of the Queen (or the Chess Tango).


First of all, please note that the enemy King can only mated on the edge or corner of the board. We will let Black play first as this will show the method clearer than if White was to move.


Black moves away from of the side of the board and plays 1…Kd5.


Since Black did not move backwards, White just moves his King closer to the action; 2.Kg2. Black moves again with 2…Kc6, or one diagonal square backwards. White’s Queen moves in the same direction as the Black King, in other words she dances with him; 3.Qd4. We are now doing the tango.


Play might then continue as 3…Kc7 (one square backwards) 4.Qd5 (one square forwards) 4…Kb6 5.Kf3 Ka6 (one square to the side) 6.Qc5 (one square to the side) 6…Kb7 7.Qd6 Ka8.


At this point, The King is already on the Back rank, White’s bes plan is to let him just move along the back rank. So 8.Qd7 (watch out, 8.Qc7 is stalemate!) Kb8 9.Ke4 (White just moves his King closer) 9…Ka8 10.Kd5 Kb8 11.Kc6 Ka8 (what else?) 12.Qb7mate.




This is only slightly harder to win. The enemy King again must be driven to the side or corner of the board. And both the King and Rook must do the tango.


First of all, if it is White to move, he makes the dance floor smaller with 1.Rg5. Notice how the Black King simply cannot run away to b5. He is forced to dance.


So Black plays 1…Kb6. If Black King moves to c7 (one square backwards), the White Rook dances to g6 (again, one square forward).


Since the King has move to the side, White dance with his King with 2.Kc4. And so it goes on with 2…Ka6 3.Kb4 Kb6. And now that both Kings are so close enough to see each other (Kings have very bad eyesight), the Rook comes over to check up on them. Yes, its a bad pun, but 4.Rg6+ is the only way to make progress.


The rest of the game could continue as such: 4…Kc7 5.Kc5 (I want to keep my eye on you!) Kd7 6.Kd5 (to continue the dance!) Ke7 7.Ke5 Kf7 8.Ra6 (got to save the Rook!) Kg7 9.Kf5 Kh7 10.Kg5 Kg7 (he ran out of room!) 11.Ra7+ (needs to check up on the monarchs) Kg8 12.Kf6 Kh8 13.Kg6 Kg8 14.Ra8mate

A Queen Study

Wan Yunguo (2472)-P. Kotenko (2359)
Moscow Open
Russia, Feb. 1 2015
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c4!? [This variation of the Ruy Lopez is quite rare. Its main purpose is to have a strong point at d5 and limit Black’s responses. Here is another game: 5.c4!? Nf6 6.Nc3 Bd7 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Be7 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.O-O O-O 11.h3 Re8 12.Qf3 c5 13.Bc2 Bc6 14.Bd2 Nd7 15.Nd5 Bf6 16.Bc3 Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Nf8 18.Rfe1 Ne6 19.b4 a5 20.bxc5 Nxc5 21.Rad1 Qb8 22.Rb1 Qa7 23.e5 Rad8 24.Nf6+ gxf6 25.Qg3+ Kf8 26.exf6 Re5 27.Rxe5 dxe5 28.Qg7+ Ke8 29.Qg8+ Kd7 30.Bf5+ 1-0 (Ilia Smirin (2480)-Janis Klovans (2420), Baltic Republics Ch., Kuldiga, Latvia, 1987)] 5…Nf6 6.d3 Be7 7.h3 O-O 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Nc3 Bf6 10.Ne2 Re8 11.O-O Nf8 12.d4 exd4 13.Nfxd4 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Rxe4 15.Qd3 Bf5 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.Ng3 Re5 18.Qf3 c6 19.Rad1 Qe6 20.Qc3 Rd8 21.Rfe1 Re8 22.Rxe5 dxe5 23.Qb4 b5 24.cxb5 axb5 25.Bb3 Qc8 26.Nxf5 Qxf5 27.Rd6 Rc8 28.Qc5 Qb1+ 29.Kh2 Qxb2 30.Qa7 Ng6 31.Bxf7+ Kh8 32.Bxg6 hxg6 33.Rxg6 e4 34.Qe7 Ra8 35.Rg4 Qf6 36.Qxe4 Kg8 37.Rf4 Qd6 38.g3 Rf8 39.Rxf8+ Kxf8 (The last two moves were played so White would reach a winning queen endgame. However, having a winning advantage does not mean an easy-to-win advantage.)


40.Kg2 b4 (With both queens controlling the center the game is almost equal. Except White has an extra pawn.) 41.h4 c5 42.g4 g6 43.g5 Kg7 44.Kh3 Qc7 45.Qc4 Qe5 46.Kg2 Qc3 47.Qe4 c4 48.Qe7+ Kg8 49.Qe8+ Kg7 50.Qe7+ Kg8 (White of course could force a draw here. But he wants more. And advancing his pawns is the best way to increase his advantage.) 51.h5! gxh5 52.g6 Qg7 53.Qe6+ Kf8 54.Qd6+ Ke8 55.Qb8+ Ke7 56.Qxb4+ (If this move was not a check Black would have reasonable chances for a draw with …Qxg6+. This should be White’s method; willing to jostle for position and make a number of threats until it is safe for him to press his advantage.) 56…Kf6 57.Qxc4 Qxg6+ (Every pawn trade makes the position clearer to understand.) 58.Kh2 Qf5 59.Qd4+ Kg6 60.a4 Qa5 61.Qd3+ Kh6 62.Qe3+ Kg6 63.Qf4 Qd5 64.Qc7 Qf5 65.Qd6+ Kh7 66.Qd4 Qa5 67.Qd7+ Kh6 68.Qc6+ Kg7 69.Qb5 Qc7+ (Naturally White would win after a queen trade.) 70.Kg2 Qf4 71.Qd7+ Kh6 72.Qc6+ Kh7 73.Kf1 Qd4 74.Qc7+ Kh6 75.a5 Qd3+ 76.Kg1 h4 77.Qc6+ Kh5 78.a6 Qd4 79.Qe8+ Kg4 80.Qe6+ Kh5 81.Kg2 Qa1 82.Kh2 Qd4 83.Qe8+ Kg4 84.Qe2+ Kf5 85.Qf3+ Kg6 86.Kh3 Qa4 87.Qg4+ 1-0