Silicon Road: Engine Snacks! Know this double rook endgame!

November 4, 2021 Matthew Sadler 2 comments

This super-quick article is in our Engine Snacks series! Leela counters a positional squeeze from Stockfish by transposing into a double-rook endgame a pawn down. To my shock and surprise, this endgame – with Stockfish having a far-advanced a-pawn – was a simple draw!
Knowing this position and its unexpected result might save you a half point or two in your career!

Position after 65.Rda2 (game)

This position comes from the TCEC Season 21 Superfinal between Stockfish and Leela (https://tcec-chess.com/#div=sf&game=44&season=21)

After a long positional squeeze against Leela’s backward c-pawn, Stockfish had emerged with an extra advanced a-pawn in a double rook endgame. Bearing in mind that a position with one pair of rooks would be completely winning for White, I assumed the position was a draw but that Black would have to show some accurate defense.

Far from it! Black merely stops the white king from moving to the queenside with …Re6 and there is nothing for White to do! Both rooks are tied down to the defense of the a-pawn, the white king cannot support the pawn to relieve one of the rooks and White has too little firepower to achieve anything on the kingside.

65…Rf6 66.f3 Kh7 67.Ra4 Kg7 68.R4a3 Kh6 69.Kg1 Kh7 70.f4 Re6 71.Kh2 f5

Position after 71…f5 (game)

There is no way White is achieving anything now! The game was drawn 8 moves later.

72.Kg2 Kg7 73.Kh3 Rb6 74.Kg2 Re6 75.Ra5 Kg8 76.Kh1 Kh8 77.Kg1 Kg8 78.R1a3 Kg7 79.Kf2

½–½

2 Comments on “Silicon Road: Engine Snacks! Know this double rook endgame!

  1. How does the position change if the white pawn was on the 5th rank instead of the 6th? I think it might still be a draw, because although black’s rook could be kicked from e5 with a white pawn push to f4, black could simply park their rook on d5 instead, and a black pawn on f5 will prevent white’s king from ever reaching e4 to attack the black rook.

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