6. ROOK ENDINGS (ROOK AGAINST PAWN)
Since rook endings cover very wide area of endings, we will divide them in three books. In two books “Rooks and Pawns” we will discuss endgames with rook against pawns and all kinds of rook and pawns endgames that bear any practical significance, whereas endings of rooks and minor pieces will be cover in book “Rooks and Minor Pieces”. Just like a bishop, a rook is also long-range piece which can go form one side of the board to the opposite in just one move, and its operation is two-dimensional because it cannot “jump” like a knight. Hence, its mobility, speed and power depend greatly of pawn structure, and it develops greatest power in open positions. Rook is faster then a bishop since it needs only one move to cross the whole chessboard, and is much stronger because it controls all white and black squares along the way. Just because of that, rook’s tactical abilities are multiple times bigger than a minor piece and it poses great threat to enemy king’s safety. Hence, the role of kings in rook endgames is even smaller than in minor piece endings The value of a rook is approximately five times bigger than a pawn. On average, it equals a minor piece plus two pawns. We have to first familiarize ourselves with rook’s possibilities and tactical and then we can understand strategies and particular solutions in rook endgames.
1. Rook activity and its power is equal in any part of a (clear) chessboard! Whether the rook is placed in center, on the edge or in the corner of a chessboard, it always controls 14 squares. Rook activity does not depend on its placement on the chessboard, it only depends on the “openness” of files and ranks. In complex positions, rook is the most powerful on the open file! From the diagram 1., we can draw one more important conclusion about rook possibilities: a rook can attack any point ( square ) on the chessboard in just one move, and to any square on a chessboard it can arrive in mostly two moves. On clean board, there are always two solutions to do that, and first step is always to move the rook to the intersection of starting square and the destination square . E.g., from a1 to e4 there are to possible trajectories a1-a4-e4 or a1-e1-e4!