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Steve’s Chess Tips: Pigs on the Seventh Pt. 3

When GM Yasser Seirawan hung the tag “pigs on the seventh” on the seventh rank Rook pair, he was referring to the fact that they could gobble up opposing pawns just as greedy hogs devour slop. Even a single Rook on the seventh rank can mop up the opponent’s undeveloped pawns with relative ease, as we will see in today’s post.

This position is from the 1988 chess Olympiad. G. Martineau, a member of the Hatian team, is in position to invade the seventh rank with one of his Rooks. His opponent, San Marino’s Andrea Magalotti, appears to have been asleep through part of the game; his Bishop is trapped, his pawns are undeveloped, and his Rook and King are on the back rank. Black is way behind positionally, but White is about to put him behind materially as well:

Position after 24...Bh7


White’s Rook comes screaming into the seventh rank like a dive bomber.


Black’s intent is clear: he seems to have a single-minded fixation on freeing the trapped Bishop. He intends to play …Bxf5. Black’s real problem here is that there’s not much he can do; White’s Rook and Bishop are gunning for the f7-pawn. 25…Rc8 loses to 26.Rxf7, while 25…Rf8 gives White time for 26.h3 and the Black Bishop stays trapped. Black has actually played the best move, which gives us an idea of just how horrible his position remains.


And one pawn falls.

26…Kh8 27.Rxc7

A second pawn drops.

27…Bxf5 28.Rxb7

Followed by a third…

28…Re8 29.Rxa7

…and then a fourth. So we can see that a single Rook on the seventh (typically teamed with a second threat or magnifying an existing positional advantage) can easily devastate an opponent’s forces by snapping up unguarded pawns.

Position after 29...Rxa7

White is winning here, but give Black credit: he valiantly struggles on by trying to create counterplay as compensation for his lost material:

29…Re3+ 30.Kd4 Rh3 31.Ke5 g6 32.Kf6 Rxh2 33.Ra8+ Kh7 34.Bg8+ Kh8 35.Be6+ Kh7 36.Ra7+ Kh8 37.Bxf5 Rxb2 38.Ra8+ 1-0

With a forced mate on the board, Black throws in the towel.

ChessCentral carries the book and disk widely regarded as THE definitive work on the endgame: Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual. If you buy the disk version, ChessCentral will ship it free (no shipping charge!) through July 11, 2010.

Have fun! — Steve


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