Winning the Queen v Rook Ending - Part 1 from Philidor
|Difficulty||This is a challenging ending to learn|
|Frequency||This ending comes up quite often so you should know it!|
|Detail||There is quite a lot of material to learn even for this part|
The queen v rook ending is a major irritant for a lot of developing players. To work out the win, it is fundamental to know the Philidor position.
If you want to see how to get to Philidor, see our article: reaching the Philidor position from an open board
It's such a significant material advantage (4 pawns) but still very hard to convert if the defender knows what he's doing. This ending involves patience and a bit of a leap of faith for the learner.
The technique for this ending is rather unusual, as you have to learn a position first! However from this position there is a forced win in every line. It is very difficult to get to this position but also necessary.
We've split the material into two sections:
- Winning from Philidor (this post)
- Getting to Philidor
Three things you will learn today
- There is a forced win in the Queen and Rook Ending.
- The Philidor Position is winning whoever is to move.
- It's not so easy to get into the Philidor Position.
Part 1 of 3 - A forced win
The Key Position - Black to Play
More detail on the study positionThe position above is The Philidor Position and the most important thing you need to take away from this page.
With black to move, white can win material easilyThere are lots of nasty forks and tricks coming to win the defender's rook but nothing immediate so it's easier if black moves first to create a weakness:
Summary of part 1
- From the Philidor position with black to move, every move black makes is losing, either by dropping a rook or leading to a mate.
- With white to move, there is no brilliant forcing line, so we learn a technique instead to transfer the move back to black by force.
- Of course these analyses hold (by the symmetry of the board) for whoever is attacking and whichever corner we are in. The same techniques hold for example with Ka7, Rb7, Kc6, Qd8.
- The Rb3/Rf7 and Rb1/Rh7 lines are the most tenacious defences. The attacker needs to know his stuff!
Part 2 of 3 - Philidor with the attacker to move
As the defender already has a rotten position and we have no killer blow, we are aiming to transfer the move to the opponent, which we can do with a triangle. Qe5-a1-a5.
Summary of part 2
- There is no forced sequence to win with the attacker to move (e.g. 1. Qd8 Ka7! and we've made no progress) but there is with the defender to move from the Philidor position.
- We transfer the move by getting back to the position by force and giving the move away. There is no better alternative for the defender.
- From here, we know the winning technique from part 1!
Part 3 of 3 - It's not so easy to get into the Philidor Position
Whilst we now know how to win this position, it's not so easy to get there. We will go through the technique in another post.
What's helpful though, if you're playing someone who is not familiar with the ending, is to always be on the lookout for nasty forks with the queen.
The queen controls lots of juicy diagonals as well as ranks and files.
See if you can find some nice forks in these positions:
Summary of Queen and Rook from Philidor
- This is a won ending but a very tough one - we have learned it's won once we get to the Philidor position
- With the defender to move, we know how to win the game.
- Defending, we will play Rb1/Rb3 or Rf7/Rh7 to make the attacker's job as hard as possible.
- If we have to move, we pass the move to the defender instead.
- Whilst getting to Philidor is tough in practice, we may win material by a fork on the way.