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Steve’s Chess Tips: Pigs on the Seventh Pt. 2

In our last chess tip we saw how effective the Rook pair on the seventh rank can be. But in that game the Black King was actually trapped by its own Rook; White’s mating combination was actually helped by Black’s piece placement. Occasionally the mate by Rook pair requires some help by another friendly piece to keep the opposing King cornered, as we see in the following example (from Nikontovic-Bekker Jensen, Danish Team Championship 1999):

Position after 24.c4

White’s pawns are really making things miserable for Black. The move 24…dxc4 would be wrong because of 25.Bxc4+, so Black chooses to further overprotect his d-pawn:

24…e6

Probably not the way to go, as the White Bishop and pawn make an effective “battery” of sorts. Black’s in trouble here no matter what he does, but 24…Kh8 was arguably better.

25.cxd5 exd5 26.Rc1

Position after 26.Rc1

White starts getting ideas about a “horizontal Rook battery” (e.g. pigs) on the seventh rank. The next stop for the c1-Rook will be c7.

26…Qb5

I’ve won a game or two in my time by “bluffing” my opponent with a faux counterattack. But this isn’t the time for it, I’m afraid. This move pretty much loses instantly. Black would have been better off circling the wagons with 26…Bf8.

27.Rcxc7 Qxe2

This is actually a slick little Queen sacrifice by White, who doesn’t care a bit about his Queen — checkmate is now forced.

Position after 27...Qxe2

Note that the White Bishop on b4 helps keep the Black King trapped in the corner. It doesn’t matter whether a Black piece sits on f8 or (as happens here) a White piece controls that square; the important point is that f8 is denied to the Black King’s use.

28.Rxg7+ Kh8 29.Rxh7+ Kg8 30.Rag7# 1-0

And the greedy pigs emerge triumphant. This was a really sweet ending; I’ll bet it took the White player a day or two to come back down after this one.

Learn more about Rook endings in this eBook from ChessCentral.

Have fun! — Steve

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