Rook versus Bishop with Rook's Pawns

The diagram position occurred during 2015 in a team match game between two players rated over 2600. With care, Black should be able to hold this endgame but it is important for him to keep both his pawns.

Perhaps he was short of time but he allowed his opponent to simplify to the textbook ending where each side has a rook's pawn. Whether that can be won chiefly depends on how far advanced is the stronger side's pawn.

The weaker side needs to have its pawn (on the same colour as its bishop) at least on the fourth rank to have good drawing chances and even on the 5th is sometimes not sufficient. A classic example Salwe-Rubinstein, Prague 1908, where a drawing method for the weaker side was discovered half a century later.

As Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual says (4th edition, page 257): "Positions with rook pawns are quite difficult, even top grandmasters cannot avoid errors when playing them."

Hannes Stefansson - Nils Grandelius
European Team Championship, Reykjavik 2015

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Rd1 a5 10.Bf4 b5 11.Ne5 Bb7 12.b3 a4 13.Nd2 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Ng4 15.Nf3 axb3 16.axb3 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Rxa1 18.Rxa1 dxc4 19.e3 cxb3 20.Qxb3 Bd6 21.Bxc6 Bxe5 22.Bxb7 Qb6 23.Be4 Bd6 24.d5 e5 25.Qc2 g6 26.Qc6 Rb8 27.Ra6 Qxc6 28.dxc6 Rc8 29.Kg2 Rc7 30.Ra8+ Kg7 31.Rd8 Bf8 32.Kf3 b4 33.Bd5 Be7 34.Re8 Bd6 35.Ke4 Kf6 36.Kd3 Ra7 37.Kc4 Ra5 38.Rd8 Rc5+ 39.Kb3 Rxd5 40.c7 Rd3+ 41.Kb2 Bxc7 42.Rxd3 e4 43.Rd5 Be5+ 44.Kc2 Bc3 45.g4 h6 46.h4 Be1 47.Rd1 Bc3 48.Kb3 Ke6 49.Kc4 Bf6 50.h5 gxh5 51.gxh5 Bc3 52.Rh1 f5 53.Rg1 Kf7 54.Kb3 Bd2 55.Kc2 Bc3 56.Kb3 Bd2 57.Kb2 Bc3+ 58.Kc2 Bf6 59.f4 exf3 60.Rf1 Ke6 61.Rxf3 Ke5 62.Kd3 b3 63.Rf4 b2 64.Rb4 Kd5 65.Rb5+ Kc6 66.Kc4 Bg7 67.Rb3 Bf6 68.Kd3 Kd5 69.Rb5+ Kc6 70.Rb8 Be5 71.Rb3 Kd5 72.Kc2 Bf6 73.Rb6 Bg5 74.Rxb2 Ke4 75.Kd2 Bxe3+ 76.Ke2 f4 77.Rb4+ Bd4 78.Ra4 f3+ 79.Kd2 f2

Still drawn; perhaps Black was trying to win?

80.Ke2 Ke5 81.Ra6 Be3 82.Ra8

Black is getting stretched but can still draw by ...Bb6, ...Bc5, ...Bd4 or several king moves.


[Even 82...Ke4 83.Re8+ Kf4 is a draw because if 84.Rxe3? f1Q+ 85.Kxf1 Kxe3]

83.Kxf1 Kf5 84.Ke2 Bc1 85.Rc8 Bb2 86.Rg8 Bc1 87.Kf3 Bd2 88.Rd8 Bc1 89.Rd5+ Ke6 90.Ke4 Bg5 91.Ra5 Bc1 92.Ra6+ Kf7 93.Rc6 Bg5 94.Ke5 Ke7 95.Rc7+ Kd8 96.Rf7 Bc1 97.Ke6 Kc8 98.Rd7 Bg5 99.Kd6 Bf4+ 100.Kc6 Kb8 101.Rb7+ Ka8 102.Rb4 Bh2 103.Kd7 Bg3 104.Ke6 Bf2 105.Kf7 Be3 106.Kg7

Black resigns for if 106...Ka7 107 Re4 and after the B moves, the standard finish 108 Re6 and 109 Rxh6 because the Black king has been driven far away.


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