A Special Kind of Chess End Game: Queen versus Rook

Let’s examine two key positions, acknowledging Derek Grimmell’s research into this kind of chess end game (few chess books give much information on the queen vs. rook endgame). We’ll take a brief look at the Euwe and wishbone positions, among the many that could be considered (javelin, third-rank defense, Philidor, cage, etc).

In the queen-versus-rook end game, the attacker is usually trying to force the defending king to the edge of the board, ideally to one of the corners. The defender often tries to keep the defending king and rook close, to avoid losing the rook to a hunting queen.

An Euwe Position

Black to move must retreat

Diagram 1

With the defender to move, this is the Euwe position. Black’s best move is probably Rb2, but White forces the defender towards the edge of the board as follows (acknowledging the work of the former World Chess Champion Max Euwe of the Netherlands):

1) . . . .     Rb2

2) Qb6+  Ka3

3) Qa5+  Kb3

4) Kd3 . . . . and Black will be forced to the edge of the board.

After Kd3 the pattern is repeated except that all four of the pieces are one square lower on the board when compared with Diagram 1 (queen at a5, white king at d3, rook at b2 and black king at b3).

A Wishbone Position

White to move should play Qf1+Diagram 2-A  with White to move

We now consider the wishbone, with the attacker to move. Few chess books are likely to have the word wishbone, but in his Youtube videos Grimmell gives us the best way for White to progress in this key end game position:

1) Qf1+!   Kc2

2) Ke3!  . . . .

chess endgame - White moved Ke3!

Diagram 2-B  after Ke3!

In Diagram 2-B, Black cannot move Kc3 because the rook would be lost after Qe1. But what rook moves does the defender have here? Distant moves by the rook allow the queen to hunt it down. Let’s look at Rd1.

2) . . . .    Rd1

3) Qe2+  Kc1

4) Qa2  . . . . Now the black king is hemmed in and the rook must run away to the top of the board, to avoid allowing the white king from approaching the black king and forming a mating net. (Any rook move to the right will allow it to be lost to a skewer after Qa1+.)

Black is in zugzwang

Diagram 2-C  after Qa2

Notice how the defender’s position would only get worse after Re1+, for the white king would move to d3, threatening two different mates: Qa1# and Qc2#. Let’s look a little deeper:

4) . . . .   Re1+

5) Kd3   Rd1+ (What else is there?)

6) Kc3  . . . .  Now White threatens three different checkmates. Game over.



Endgame of Queen Versus Rook

Let’s examine a particular corner defense in the queen-vs-rook chess end game. We are indebted to Derek Grimmell for his studies and his videos that explain how this kind of endgame works.

Chess Book for the Beginner

What other book for beginners uses the Nearly-Identical-Positions method of chess instruction (NIP)? This is the natural way, the easier way, the new way, to lead you to notice important details in each position on the board.

Bobby Fischer Chess Book

What was the greatest chess accomplishment of Robert J. Fischer? . . . It was in sweeping two matches in a row against two of the top grandmasters in the world, in 1971.


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