Instructive Rook Endgames: Nakamura – Giri

NakamuraGiriHikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri played out an instructive Rook endgame at the Grand Chess Tour Paris Blitz event this year.

Material is level but Nakamura (White) has his Rook ideally placed behind his pawn and his King is helping out too.

Nevertheless, this is a drawn position. Only 1 move gets the draw however, the other 21 lose.

Anish Giri chose 68…Rb8 covering the promotion square – and lost.

This position isn’t really about stopping the a-pawn. White will get it to a7, Black must play …Ra8 then White brings his King to b7. Black is going to have to give up his Rook for the pawn eventually. The question is “will Black be able to do anything with his pawn?”

NakamuraGiri2Let’s see what happened in the game 69.a6 Kf6 70.a7 Ra8 71.Kb7 Rxa7+ 72.Kxa7 Ke5 (diagram)

Now there are many ways for White to win. He can cut off the King with 73.Ra4 forcing Black to protect the pawn, advance 1 square, protect… while White’s King races to help Kb6-c5-d4.

When the White King is close, the Rook goes behind the pawn (Ra8-g8) and the pieces combine to win it.

What Anish Giri should have played is 68…Rf5! with the idea of perpetually checking. Clearly f5 is the only square to operate from as here (and on f6/f7/f8) it is protected and it can’t go to the h-file as the Black King and pawn would get in the way.

NakamuraGiri3To stop the checks, the White King must go to e4 69.a6 Rf6+ 70.Kd5 Rf5+ 71.Ke4 Rf8 72.a7 Ra8. Now it’s going to take White 3 moves to get to b7, compared to 1 in the game. 73.Kd5 Kf6 74.Kc6 Ke5! (staying close to the pawn but making it tougher for the White King to get to d4) 75.Kb7 Rxa7+ 76.Kxa7 g5 (diagram).

Black has gained 1 tempo (pawn on g5 instead of g6) and it makes all the difference. 77.Ra4 Kf5 78.Kb6 g4 79.Kc5 g3 80.Kd4 g2 81.Ra1 Kf4 Draw (diagram).

Of course, you don’t need to calculate all this out in a game (and this was blitz). If you have a similar position as Giri where you’ll have to give up your Rook for a pawn, make your opponent use the maximum number of moves to do it!

You can use the extra tempi to carry out your own plan.

What did you think of this endgame? Any comments or questions? Leave them below!

Endgame Study #81: Hennings – Walter, 1964

White to play and win (position taken from the excellent “van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics”).

EG81HenningsWalter↓↓↓ Solution below ↓↓↓


↓↓↓ Solution below ↓↓↓


↓↓↓ Solution below ↓↓↓


↓↓↓ Solution below ↓↓↓


White would like to play g7 followed by Bh7+ winning but Black can block with f5 then win the g7 pawn after Bf6. White solves this with

1. Bg5!! if the Bishop is taken then g7 as f5 is no longer available and f5 drops the Bishop on d8. The game continued 1…Be7 2. g7 1-0

EG81HenningsWalter2More testing would be 1…Be6 2. g7! e4 3. Bxe4 f5 when White needs 4. Bd5! Black will have to take on d5 or lose the Bishop so 4…Bxg5+ 5 Kxg5 Bxd5 6 Kxg7 7 Kxf5 and White will win thanks to his passed d-pawn.


Endgame Study #79: Randviir – Keres

Black to play and win. (Board shown from White’s perspective.)


RandviirKeresSolution ↓↓↓







Solution ↓↓↓



Solution ↓↓↓





Solution ↓↓↓

54… Kd6! White will soon be forced back

55. Kd4 h6 White must give way

56. Ke4 Kc5 57. Ke3 Kd5 Kb4 also wins

58. Kd3 Ke5 59.Ke3 h5! The only way to make progress

60. gxh5 Kxf5 61. Kf3 Ke6 62. Kg4 Kf7 63. Kf5 Kg7 0-1

Endgame Study #77: Nimzowitsch – Tarrasch

Black to play and win. (Solution below)










38 …a5 starts the pawn rolling 39 Ke4 f5+! 0-1 The pawn cannot be captured otherwise the King is outside the promoting square and, for example, 40 Kd4 f4! leaves White without any good moves.


Endgame Study #76: Stoltz – Nimzowitsch

Black to play and win (Board is oriented from Black’s point-of-view. Solution below).



↓ ↓ ↓ Solution  ↓ ↓ ↓






↓ ↓ ↓ Solution  ↓ ↓ ↓


Black can deal with Whites a- and b-pawns currently but can White deal with a d- and g-pawn at the same time?

52…f4! creating the passed pawn 53 gxf4+ Kd6!! This move and only this move. (Black would also have played this if White had tried a5/b6 instead of gxf4+). Note that Ke6? allows f5+, Kd5? allows 54 a5 Kc5 55 b6 Kc6 56 f5 with a draw after 56…g3 and Kxf4?? loses after b6. The game continued 55. a6 Kc7 56. Ke2 d3+ 57. Kxd3 g2 58. Ke4 g1=Q 59. Kf5 Qb6 60. Kg5 Kd7 61. f5 Ke7 0-1

Example taken from the excellent book, Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics.

Endgame Study #75: Zinar, 1981

White to play and win. (Study by M. Zinar, 1981, solution below.)

EGSTudy75↓↓↓ Solution ↓↓↓







↓↓↓ Solution ↓↓↓



1. Kg7!! (idea, e4) Kd5 2. Kf7! (zugzwang) Ke5 3. Ke7 Kd5 4. Kd7 Kc4 (4…c5 5 Kc7) 5. Kc6! (5. e4? Kxc3 6. e5 c5 7. e6 Kd2 8. e7 c4 9. e8Q c3 drawing, since White has no check) 5…Kxc3 6. Kc5! and the e-pawn promotes.

(Analysis from John Nunn’s Endgame Challenge).