Rook and 2 Pawns v Rook and 1 Pawn

One of the most typical endgames which the Lomonosov tablebase solves is that of Rook and two pawns against Rook and one pawn where the stronger side has connected passed pawns and the weaker side has a single passed pawn which is far enough advanced to offer counterplay.

This particular endgame involving English grandmaster John Nunn, in which both sides made understandable mistakes, is quite instructive. Although not played recently, it is included here because the game is not to be found in some databases.

The game reduced to a 7-man ending after Black's 48th move and it should have been drawn. The diagram shows the position after White's 51st move when a critical decision arose. Black should either have tried 51...Rb3 to prevent the advance of the White king, or else 51...Rb1 to attack the white pawns from behind if they advanced. Instead Black made the natural advance of the b-pawn, which should have lost. Then at move 55 White went wrong but his opponent immediately returned the favour, after which the win became quite straightforward.

J.D.M. Nunn - Lukacs
Budapest Tungsram 1978

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Be7 6.d4 Na5 7.Nxe5 Nxc4 8.Nxc4 d5 9.exd5 Qxd5 10.Ne3 Qd8 11.0-0 Nf6 12.c4 0-0 13.Bb2 c6 14.Nc3 b5 15.cxb5 cxb5 16.Qf3 Rb8 17.d5 Bc5 18.Rad1 Qd6 19.h3 Re8 20.Rfe1 Bd7 21.Nf5 Bxf5 22.Qxf5 Rxe1+ 23.Rxe1 Bd4 24.Rd1 Bc5 25.Ne4 Nxe4 26.Qxe4 Qg6 27.Qf4 Rd8 28.Rc1 Bb6 29.Qb4 Qf5 30.Bd4 Bxd4 31.Qxd4 a6 32.Rd1 Rd6 33.Rd3 Qf6 34.Qxf6 gxf6 35.f4 Kf8 36.Kf2 Ke7 37.Ke3 Kd7 38.Kd4 Rb6 39.Kc5 Rb8 40.Ra3 Rc8+ 41.Kd4 sealed 41...Rc4+ 42.Ke3 Kd6 43.Rxa6+ Kxd5 44.Rxf6 Rc3+ 45.Kf2 Ke4 46.Rxf7 Ra3 47.Rxh7 Kxf4 48.Rh5 Rxa2+ 49.Kg1 Rb2 50.Kh2 b4 51.Rb5 51...b3?? Missing the two moves that would have drawn [51...Rb3 ; 51...Rb1! ] 52.h4! Kg4 53.Rb4+ Kf5 54.Kg3 Probe prefers 54 Kh3 54...Rb1 55.Rb5+? Any of 55 Kh2, Kh3, or Kf3 should win. 55...Kf6? Now White is winning again. [55...Ke4! 56.Kg4 (/\56.h5 b2! 57.h6 Ra1 Or ...Rc1, ...Rd1 or ...Re1 but NOT ...Rh1 58.Rxb2 Kf5! Black can draw) 56...b2 (...Kd4 or ...Kd3 also holds.) 57.h5 Kd3 (...Kd4 also holds.) 58.h6 Kc2 (Or ...Kc3 or ...Kc4) 59.Kg5 (59.h7 Rh1 (Anywhere on the rank will do.)) 59...Rg1 ] 56.Kg4 b2 57.h5 [57.Kh5 wins more quickly.] 57...Rc1 58.Rb6+ Kg7 59.Rxb2 Rc4+ 60.Kg5 Black resigned. 1-0

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