Monday, 8 November 2021

072. Which Rook and Where?

White: boqsa - all-play-all tournament,, 2020

It's a well-known chess quandary. You've castled kingside, your queen's rook is still on its home square, and you have to decide where both rooks should now go. The c-file and d-file? The c-file and e-file? The d-file and e-file? Where?

Here's a case in point.

White is a pawn up but it isn't a very good one, doubled and isolated on the open c-file, and the king resides on that side of the board. Black also has a slight lead in development. The question now is where to put the rooks. The logical destinations are the c- and e-files. The former attacks the c3-pawn with options of ...Rc6-b6. The latter eyes a discovery against White's queen.

Let's try the king's rook:
a) 16...Rfc8 can be met by 17 Rd4 Rc6 (or 17...Qb6+ 18 Rb4) 18 Be2 Rac8 19 Rhd1 and White defends by means of 19...Rxc3 20 Rd8+ or 19...h6 20 c4.
b) 16...Rfe8 might lead to 17 Qf4 Qb6+ 18 Qb4 Qxf2, when Black gets the pawn back, but then something like 19 Qd4 Qf5 20 Bc4 Bxc4 21 Qxc4 Re6 22 Rhf1 Rb6+ 23 Ka1 Qg6 24 Rd7 Rf8 25 Rfxf7 is a draw.

Okay, let's try the queen's rook:
c) 16...Rac8 17 Rd4 Rc6 18 Be2 Rfc8 is the same as line ‘a’.
d) 16...Rae8 is not the most obvious choice, but when we compare this with move 24 in line ‘b’ we see that Black already has a rook on f8 defending the f7-pawn and so has a “free” move. Here 24...h6, creating luft, is useful. (Not 24...Qxc2?? 25 Qxf7+! Rxf7 26 Rd8+ and mates.)

So 16...Rae8 it was. After which I got to play a succession of nice little rook moves:
17 f3 Rc8 (because 18 Rd4 Qb6+ 19 Rb4 now drops the undefended queen)
18 Be2 Rfe8 (because the white bishop is now in danger behind the queen)
19 Qd4 Rc6 (because the queen blocks the d1-rook from defending via Rd4)
20 Ra1 Rd8 (shifting the white queen before doubling on the c-file)
21 Qe3 Rdc8 (now that ...Rxc3 will hit the queen again)
22 Qd4 Rxc3 (okay, the queen moved first)
23 Bd3 Rxd3 and Black won – thematically, in a rook endgame.