Longtime Friends

The rules governing the movement of the Rook and Knight ( in contrast to the Queen and Bishop) have not changed at all over the course of the many centuries of chess history. These longtime friends still retain the same fighting qualities with which they were endowed by the unknown inventor of chess. The Knight's surprising hop and the direct, ramming movement of the Rook obviously have no correlation to the names of these pieces, but they do harmoniously fill out the complicated picture of chess weapons.

In ancient times, the Rook and Knight were the most powerful pieces. It is no accident that chess problems that have been passed down to us through the ages often end as mating positions with cooperating Rooks and Knights.

Here are these mating finales from out of the past:

These are unique positions where the Rook and Knight cover all the free squares around the enemy King, without any assistance.

Record Jump

There are a great many ways these final positions can be reached. Let us begin with the simplest, but most surprising.

This, of course, is not from a game, but has been fabricated; it is difficult to see how chessplayers could have reached this position. It does neatly illustrate the interaction between the Rook and Knight. White plays 1 N-B6! and Black can do nothing to prevent mate on R7. It can only be delayed by giving up the Rooks on QN2 and QB2, the Queen on Q2, Bishop on K2 and Knight on KB2.

To create these kinds of situations, the Rook must be on a cleared seventh rank, and the Knight must have unimpeded access to KB6.

The White Queen in Ugolt-sev—Ashikhin (1976) prevents the Knight from getting to KB6.1 ... Q-K8! (diversion) decides matters. 2 QxQ N-B6ch 3 K-Rl RxP mate.

In Barkovsky-Korchnoy (1969) the White Knight can occupy KB6, but it is Black's move, and the grandmaster offered a draw, thinking of parrying the threat with 1 ... B-Q3. White accepted the offer, and was somewhat perplexed when it was shown that he had a win. After 2 N-B6! Q-R8ch 3 K-R2 BxQch 4 P-N3 BxPch 5 K-N2, Black has no more checks, and the Rook plus Knight machine rolls on unhindered.

of a discovered check inasmuch as the Queen is under attack by the Rook on Q1.

The Gordian knot is cut with the problematical 1 B-Q5! This can be regarded as a "double line interruption" (the Bishop places itself at the intersection of the Queen and Rook's sphere of influence) which creates unstoppable mating threats. There followed 1 . . . RxB 2 RxBP, Black resigns.

Gordian Knot

In Urgeanu-Anastasides (1949), the Black KBP, defended by the Queen on QR7, blocks the Rook's path. It should be noted that White has no good way to make use

In this position from Stern-Holke (1956) not one White piece has yet taken up its assault position. It thus becomes even more instructive to see how White artfully weaves the mating net.

Once again making use of the familiar line interruption. The Black Queen has been cut off from KB2, and the KR is attacked.

Now not only is 4 RxN threatened, but also 4 N— B6ch.

It has taken White all of four moves to bring the Rook and Knight to their battle posts. Only the Bishop on N2 remains to be eliminated.

Parma-Damjanovic (1960) also made use of the Rook plus Knight tactical combination.

1 ... RxNP! 2 RxR Q-N3ch 3 K-Rl RxP 4 R-KN1 N-B6! and White resigns.

A New Route

The combined attack of the Rook and Knight can materialize not only along the seventh rank, but also up the KR and KN files.

Rossolimo-Raizman (1967): 1 BxN PxB 2 N-B6ch K-Rl 3 Q-N6!

This striking move is based on the variation 3 .. . BPxQ

4 NxPch PxN 5 R-R3 mate or 3 . . . PxN 4 QxPBch N-N2

In both cases, the transfer of the Rook from the Queenside to the Kingside is decisive.

3 . . . Q-B7 (defending against the immediate 4 QxRP mate) 4 R-KR3! Black resigns. After the forced 4 .. . QxQ 5 NxQch PxN, 6 RxP mate.

White's problems in Sump-ter-Strin (1964) is how to bring the Knight on B4 to KB6, where it greatly strengthens the attack. 1 N-R5 suggests itself, but then Black can defend with 1 . . . N-Q2. White decides to sacrifice his Queen to attain his main objective.

1 QxN! QxQ 2 N-Q5 (the Knight goes to B6 with tempo as Black's position falls to pieces) 2 . . . Q-R4.

2 . . . B-B4 does not help: 3 N-B6! QxPch 4 B-N2, as in the game, or 2 . . . QxBP 3 RxQ B-B4 4 R-N7 N-K3 5 R/2-KN2.

The Rook of course cannot be taken, and KR2 cannot be defended. Therefore Black resigns.

The Rook into the Breach

Now let us look at several positions where the Rook delivers final blow from KN8. The KN file is the main communication line in these cases.

Larsen (Black) wove the mating net artfully against Taimanov (1967), after which the Leningrad grandmaster carelessly allowed his King to wander behind enemy lines.

1 ... N-N5! (cutting off the King's retreat) 2 R-Ql R-

N4ch 3 K-R8 N-B3 (Black is ready) 4 B-R4ch K-K2 and White resigns.

It seems that Black controls the KN file in Koltanowsky-Halsey (1959), but the Rook is chained to the defense of KR2.

A famous American grandmaster played this game blindfolded.

The White Rook on N4 is preventing mate by the Rook on KN8 (Rainer-Steinitz, 1860). The first World Champion breaks through, offering up his Queen twice.

The ending of Winter-Colle (1930) demonstrated another way of opening the KN file.

It is impossible to take the Knight (2 PxN Q-N4), even though this move does not threaten anything directly. But Black has already prepared the decisive follow-up.

2 P-Q5 (trying to close the Bishop's diagonal and thereby loosen Black's grip) 2 . . . Q-R5!

As in the previous example, White creates a mate threat on KR7, but its primary pur pose is to get the KN file open.

In an attack on the King castled long, the QN file becomes the important trunk line.

Porrall—Burgalat (1945): 1 . . . N-B6! 2 R-Bl QxPch! 3 PxQ N-B7ch 4 RxN R-N8 mate.

The More the Merrier

"Every cramped position is fraught with danger," said Tarrasch, one of the strongest past German masters. It would be an error to apply this rule to every position, but there is a grain of truth in it. In previous chapters we have seen more than once the danger that can befall a King which has had its freedom of movement restricted.

Here are four final positions where the King has been suffocated.

Black's position in Munk-NN (1914) seemed safe enough.

However, his cramped King's position allows White to carry out the decisive combination.

1 N-B7ch K-R2 2 QxPch! PxQ 3 N-N5dbl ch K-Rl 4 R-R7 mate.

The double check was the triggering mechanism in this combination.

Pollock, versus Allies (1893), made use of an analogous tactic.

I Q-Q7ch! BxQ 2 N-Q6ch K-Ql 3 N-B7ch K-Bl 4 R-K8ch! BxR 5 R-Q8 mate.

A pretty combination. The successive diversion of the white-squared Bishop from the critical Queen and King files was very striking.

Sometimes the final move is preceded by a blockading of the King.

Any capture on KN1 by Black leads to mate: 1. .. NxB 2 QxPch QxQ 3 RxQ mate or 1 . . . RxB 2 QxNch QxQ 3 RxP mate. Black played 1 . . . N-N5 but after 2 Q-N6, Black resigns.

After the "long distance" I . . . R-B8!, in Dieks—Miles (1973), White turned out to be in Zugzwang (bad is 2 RxR due to 2 . . . NxPch). The reply 2 BxB led to mate: 2 . . . Q-N8ch (X-ray) 3 RxQ RxR mate.

Often only a minimum of material is needed to carry out the final attack against a cramped King, as happened in Lutikov-Gorniak (1972).

1 NxKP!

The Queen, of course, is untouchable because of 2 R— B8 mate. At the same time White threatens 2 QxQch with mate next move.

A Luft for the King should be created by the quieter 1 . . . P-KR3, although even after that, 2 NxQ RxQ 3 NxN RxN 4 R-B6 gives White a winning Rook endgame. Now Lutikov decides matters with a forced maneuver.

2 QxQch NxQ 3 R-B8ch K-R2 4 N-N5ch K-R3 5 N-B7ch, Black resigns.

6 R-R8 mate can only be stopped by an exchange sacrifice on B2, which is tantamount to capitulation.

Witness for the Prosecution

Let us familiarize ourselves with another tactical device encountered in Kogan-Fues-ter (1937).

I QxPch! KxQ 2 R-R5ch K-Nl 3 N-N6 BxPch 4 K-Rl, Black resigns. Mate by the Rook on R8 cannot be stopped.

The same idea was the basis of List's combination against Manheimer (1930).

White's position looks critical. He is two pawns down and the Knight at Q5 is about to fall. A surprising counterblow radically changes the picture.

I NxN! (the pin is illusory)

2 R-Rlch K-Nl 3 QxR) 2 R-Rlch K-Nl 3 N-N6! and Black resigns.

Note the Bishop on QN3, the main "witness for the prosecution." Pinning the KBP, it allowed the Knight to go to N6 with such force that Black was to be mated (3 . . . N— B6ch 4 PxN Q-KR5 5 RxQ and 6 R-R8 mate).

The King does not have to be restrained on the edge of the board, but can also be caught in the center for combinational themes to arise.

In Sokolov-Ruzhnikov (1967), Black tried to deprive White of the discovered check with his last move P— KR3. He also has high hopes for his pawn on QN7, a candidate for queening . . . Alas, the struggle is over in three moves: 1 RxQNPdis ch! PxQ 2 N-B6ch K-Kl 3 R-K7 mate.

The Tragedy of One Tempo

If the Knight is able to cut off all escape routes, then the Rook can deliver mate from a respectable distance.

The Georgian Prince Da-dian Mingelsky was a great chess fan. In 1898 he managed to win a game from an unknown opponent with a direct but elegant combination.

The desperate position of the White King soon tells: 1 . . . N-N6ch! 2 RxN RxNch! KxR 3 R-K8 mate.

And here is the mating attack on the grandmaster level, Vidmar-Euwe (1929).

It is not possible to prevent the mate on R2, but as Tartakover said, "Chess—the tragedy of one tempo." White to move.

1 R-K8ch B-Bl (2 . . . K-R2 2 Q-Q3ch) 2 RxBch KxR 3 N-B5dis ch K-Nl 4 Q-B8ch! and Black resigns (4 .. . KxQ 5 R-Q8 mate).

The Yugoslav grandmaster made fine use of the rich tactical arsenal at his disposal.

Breaking Silence

Surprising dangers can ambush the unsuspecting player even in seemingly quiet positions.

Hoffmann-Foerder (1927): 1 N/BxP! (the Rook on QB1 is unprotected) J . . . N-B7 2 N-N4! and Black resigns.

Three Tricks, One Objective

Three Tricks, One Objective

This move, of course, was no surprise to White; he had pinned his hopes on the counter 2 N-Q5. However, after the exchange of Queens, 2... RxQ 3 NxQ, Black drove the King into the corner with two checks, 3 .. . BxPch 4 K-N1 N-B6ch! 5 K-Rl, after which he was mated, 5 . . . R-R5 mate.

In Komov-Sydor (1952), Black forced the King to KR2 with the idea of utilizing a double check and maneuvering the Knight into position.

I . . . R-R8ch! 2 RxR Q-R2ch 3 K-Nl Q-R7ch! 4 KxQ N-B6dbl ch S K-Rl R-Rl mate.

In Ivanov-Mashin (1971) there was an illusory pin.

How can the Knight on N4 be saved? Like this: I N-B6! QxQ 2 N-N8ch K-Kl 3 N-B7ch K-Bl 4 R-Q8 mate. An astonishing finish!

Making an Adjustment

With a Knight on KB5, the Rook is able to mate on the back rank, when it makes its way behind enemy lines down the KR file. This idea was the basis of Mikhalchishin's combination against Kozlov (Black, 1974).

A typical Knight sacrifice, whose purpose is to deflect the King pawn and control KB5. Now Black should play

1 . . . BxN, refusing the gift, but White's combination has been cleverly masked, and Kozlov has not seen it.

This Knight must be removed so it cannot come back and defend the Ringside via K3.

Black finally sees that a recapture on QB4 with the Rook or pawn leads to a forced mate: for example, 3 . . . PxB

4 Q—R6 P-N3 5 R-R3 R-Kl 6 QxRPch K-Bl 7 Q-R8ch! BxQ 8 RxB mate; we now have before us a familiar finale.

There followed: 4 BxQP PxP 5 Q-R5! and Black resigns.

Now several examples of an attack down the KR file.

Gottschall-NN (1901): 1 QR-KBl! QxQ (1 . . . Q-Kl 2 RxRch QxR 3 N-N6 mate) 2 N-N6ch K-Nl 3 N-K7ch K-R1 4 RxPch KxR 5 R-Rl mate.

Note the tactic employed here: the Knight drives the King to the edge of the board, one of the major pieces sacrifices itself on KR2, and then the final shot is delivered by a Rook along the KR file.

In Leonhardt-Englund (1908), the struggle was ended with only the threat of a combination.

Black first maneuvered the Knight to its post, 1 . . . N-K7ch 2 K-Rl, and then with 2 . . . K-K2!, he cleared the first rank for the QR to transfer to the KR file. Clearly, there is no defense to 3 RxP, and therefore White resigns.

In Sight and Out of Sight

Let us look at another combination ending with a thematic mate.

The White pieces were directed by Tal against an unknown player in a simultaneous exhibition (1974).

The Bishop is gone, but how should the assault be continued? On 3 Q-R5 there follows 3 . . . P-R3 and White has nothing obvious.

Another piece is brought into the attack, but it still seems that Black has a good defense.

Preventing the Queen from getting to R5, but . . .

m mmtm MtmwmM

4 Q-R5! and Black resigns.

If 4 . . . P-B3, then 5 N-K7 mate, and after 4 .. . QxQ, matters conclude in the familiar way: 5 N-K7ch K-R2 6 RxQ mate.

Queen of the Road

Let us examine in earnest the following mating pictures:

Rook cuts off the King's escape. In these cases the Rook operates along the KR on KN file, while the Knight checks from K7 or KB7.

To successfully conclude similar operations, the remaining squares around the enemy King must be blockaded. One of the ways to do it was seen in a game by Roman-ovsky in a 1936 simultaneous exhibition.

In the game Kolisch-Man-dolfo (1843), the Black King was already in a straight-jacket, but how could the Knight get to K7 from Q5? The other Knight helps, using a clever maneuver in combination with a pretty Queen sacrifice.

If 1 . . . PxN, then 2 QxB and the threat of 3 Q-R5 decides inasmuch as 2 . . . PxP 3 O-O-O gives Black nothing.

It is Black's move, he is a Queen up, and he can further withdraw the Knight from K5 with check, and he nevertheless resigns, since mate on K7, by either Knight, is irresistible.

In every example we have examined, the KR file was free of enemy pieces, and the Rook became a guest thereon.

Breaking Down Barriers

Now let us familiarize ourselves with ways of destroying barriers that the opponent has constructed.

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