How to Mate with a Rook and King against a King
|Difficulty||This is not a difficult ending to learn|
|Frequency||This ending comes up very often so you must know it!|
|Detail||There is not a lot of material to learn|
The ending with a rook and king against the king is quite straightforward and only requires a small amount of time to learn.
This is a basic mate and shouldn't take too long to master!
A common endingIt's seen very often in practice, as the rook and pawn v rook ending is common. At the end of this, with the right technique, the attacker will force the defender's rook off the board in exchange for the pawn and have to win this ending!
The rook is a very dynamic piece, being able to move across all ranks and files. It can get to any given square on an open board in 2 moves (1. Go to right file, 2. Go to right rank). Like in the queen ending the rook can also create borders but only straight ones; this lengthens the mating process slightly.
Three things you will learn today
- This is a technically won ending
- It's enough to push the king to the side to deliver the mate, though the corner works too.
- There are two key ideas - 1. Cut off ranks/files or 2. Create a smaller box.
Part 1 of 3 - A won position
Your Turn! White to play
More detail on the study positionBlack is stuck on the back rank as white covers all the squares on the 7th rank with his king. An attack of the king covering the 8th will checkmate the black king so 1. Re8+! is the right move.
Notice for all such mates, we also need the king's help!
Summary of part 1
- This is a won position.
- We need the king's help.
- Must be at the side of the board (as the rook and king cannot cover enough squares in the middle).
- The kings must face one another (or the king doesn't cover all the required flight squares).
Part 2 of 3 - Winning from the side of the board
Even when we restrict the king to a single rank or file, the process to win is not immediately obvious to chess beginners.
We learned in section 1 that we want the kings to face one another and we can also see it would be a good idea to keep our rook as far away from the king as possible. Let's see how to do this from a position where we've trapped the king on one rank but cannot mate so easily:
In the final section, we will look at how to get the king to the side of the board!
Summary of part 2
- From any position where the king is confined to a single file/rank, we know the winning technique.
- Would be helpful to know how to get the king to the side
- We will see there are two techniques to do this.
Part 3 of 3 - Winning Techniques - 1. Close off Files/Ranks 2. Create a smaller box for the king
Technique #1 - Closing off ranks and files:
This is an extension of the technique we learned in section 2. We close off ranks or files one by one using the same technique because we want to get to a position where the king has a single rank/file and then we know what to do from section 2.
Technique #2 - Making a smaller box:
You may have noticed there was a lot of chasing up and down the board so another technique is possible to restrict the enemy king. This is done by creating a smaller and smaller box. The reality is most players will use a combination of both techniques to bring around a speedy checkmate.
The problem with both of these techniques is that they are quite slow! However, you should use a combination of the two to bring about a faster checkmate!
We can use three "skills":
- Lining up the rook and king to cut off certain ranks and files.
- Creating increasingly smaller boxes for the king to be confined in.
- The final mating trick where we waste a move with our rook to put the defending king in line with our own.