In the prevous post we have learned the elementary queen checkmate. Therefore, it is time to move one step forward. Since the rook is the second strongest piece, (remember basic chess rules), learning the rook checkmate next is quite logical.
First of all, in order to understand the mating mechanicsm, it is important to know the basic mating picture. Because knowing which position you are aiming for might make your moves more purposeful.
Despite the fact that “it’s all about the hunt, not about the kill”. Since in chess one is very fond of killing the enemy king as fast as possible.
As shown by diagrams below, the rook checkmate mating picture is the same as a certain variation of the queen checkmate. The basic condition stays the same. The mating takes place either in the corner or on the edge of the board.
It is important to note that it is also possible to stalemate the opponent, if one is not careful enough. Since there is only one possible stalemate picture with the king on the edge of the board, it is not so hard to avoid it.
Naturally, due the to rook’s limited mobility compared to the queen, there are less possible mating pictures. Nevertheless, due to his two-direction movement, the mating process is still relatively easy.
In the further course of this post two different mating mechanicsm will be demonstrated.
Initially, we will consider the slower method, because it is more “user – friendly.” Afterwards, we will demonstrate another technique, which is somewhat faster and which might be especially relevant while playing blitz games over the internet.
MATING MECHANISM #1
The first mating mechanicsm is rather plain simple. The basic idea is to repeat the mating picture along the files or ranks of the board. Every time White (note again that White will be the stronger side) “mates”, the Black king is forced back untill finally he is forced to the edge of the board.
Probably the reader will get a better visualisation of the everything written above if we consider the following diagram:
Here White can move either his king or his rook, but I think moving the rook first makes things more clear.
White rook is preventing the black king from “stepping on” the highlighted squares. Therefore, Black king’s area of movement is restriced. Usually, the expression is that the Black king is “cut”.
Stepping back is easing White’s task somewhat, but here we show it simply to emhpasize once again that White should “cut” the Black king at every convenient opportunity.
Naturally, there is nothing wrong with moving the king. However, moving the rook restricts the Black king further and is therefore to be prefered.
2… Ke5 3 Kc2
Time to bring the king.
3… Kd5 4 Kd3 Ke5
This is the key moment. White would like to align his king with the black’s king. However, if he moves 5 Ke3 then Black replies 5… Kd5 and White accomplishes nothing.
Therefore, the solution is simply to move the rook for one square.
Now Black has to move and the game of “cat and mouse” can begin, because White tries to catch the Black king in order to give the check. When Black moves away, White king follows. If Black king is aligned (this time vertically) with the White king, White rook gives the check.
5… Kf5 6 Ke3 Kg5 7 Kf3 Kh5 8 Kg3 Kg5
This is the key position. Now that the kings are on the same file, White can give check.
9 Rb5+ Kf6
Let the hunt begin. Again. Note that 10 Kf4 will probably lead to similar variations.
10 … Ke6 11 Kf4 Kd6 12 Ke4 Kc6
Since Black is now attacking the rook, White should move it. The easiest is to move it away to the other side of the board.
13 Rh5 Kb6 14 Kd4 Ka6 15 Kc4 Kb6
Now again there is no alignment, therefore White moves the rook.
16 Rg5 Ka6 17 Kb4 Kb6
Voila. Time to give the check.
18 Rg6+ Kc7
Sixth rank is won. Now the process is repeated.
19 Kc5 Kd7 20 Kd5 Ke7 21 Ke5 Kf7
Time to move the rook again:
22 Ra6 Kg7 23 Kf5 Kh7 24 Kg5 Kg7
Time to win the 7th rank.
25 Ra7+ Kf8
There you have it. The king is brought to the edge of the board. It is time to repeat the story one more time.
26 Kf6 Ke8 27 Ke6 Kd8 28 Kd6 Kc8 29 Kc6 Kb8
Time to move the rook. We are soon there.
30 Rh7 Ka8 31 Kb6 Kb8
And finally we have arrived to the position where we can give the mate.
32 Rh8 mate
Naturally, the demonstrated mechanicsm is rather painful and hopefully you won’t be “brute forcing” the checkmate like this in your own games.
Because there is much more efficient way of mating that includes simultaneous action by king and rook.
MATING MECHANISM #2
The second proposed mechanicsm eliminated the need of the “long” rook moves to the other side of the board. Instead, White uses his king to support his rook when it is attacked, and therefore eliminates many superfluous moves.
Let us take another look at the starting position.
It doesn’t make a difference whether White moves his rook or his king at this point, but it seems to me that moving the king is somewhat more consistent.
1 … Kd4 2 Ra3
So far nothing spectacular has happened
2… Ke4 3 Rd3!
This is the idea. White moves his rook again and using the king’s support “cuting” the black king more effectively compared to mechanism one.
Therefore, Black’s king is forced to go back.
3 … Ke5 4 Kd2 Ke4
It seems like nothing has been achieved since Black’s king is back.
But now again he is forced to go back.
5 … Ke5 6 Kf3
Here temporarily the White king moves away from the rook and blocks the rook influence. Since Black’s king can’t make use of that, it is not very big problem.
6… Kf5 7 Rd5
Naturally, when an opportunity arises, White can use the mechanicsm one to push the Black king even further.
7… Ke6 8 Ke4
8 … Kf6 9 Re5
A familiar method
9 … Kf7 10 Kf5
We are almost there.
10… Kg7 11 Re7+
And now black king is forced towards the edge of the board and mate will soon follow.
11 … Kf8
I will let the reader figure out how White mates on other Black replies.
Supporting the rook for the last time
12… Kg8 13 Ra7
Okay, the “long moves” aren’t completely eliminated, but we can survive playing only one.
13 … Kh8 14 Kg6 Kg8
All the prerequesites are met. Finally the mate is here.
15 Ra8 mate.
It is obvious that the second method is much faster and it doesn’t require endless “hunting. It is true that the length of both variations is only approximate. However, hopefully readers who weren’t familiar with the rook checkmate will know what to do if they encounter it over the board.
If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, feel free to use the comment section below, or send me an email. 🙂