Queen Versus Rook – Draw Possibilities

When you have the queen, in an ending with nothing but a queen and an opposing rook, watch out for the defender’s drawing opportunities.

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draw possibilityQueen versus Rook end game, with white to move

In the above position, white may appear to have an easy win after Kd6, for three mates will be threatened. But look at this response: Re6+. Notice the game will then be a draw.

When you enjoy the pleasure of having a queen against your opponent’s rook, beware of putting your king and queen on the same rank or file. Be sure that an unpleasant rook move is not possible in the position, or only your opponent may be pleased.

When the defender is an expert in defense, winning a queen-versus-rook end game is no picnic, unless you know many precise methods of winning this particular end game.

How do you win in the above position? I see a better place for the queen: at a7 or b7, with the other pieces the same. Then how easy it would be to win with Kd6! But the direct approach, Qb7, allows the rook to drive away the queen after Re7.

Can the black king survive on c8? Even with the black king on c8, the white move Kd6 would win quickly, as long as the queen would be on a7. So a key to winning is having the queen at a7 or b7 when the black king is on c8 or d8, with white to move.

I see a challenge in preventing the defending king from escaping to e7 and then e8. Yet I also see a way to prevent that escape: Qd6+. I do not see, however, any way to force a position in which my queen is at a7 or b7 and the defending king is at c8 or d8.

What about the queen at a6 and all else as in the diagram, with white to move? With the white king moving to d6, mate would soon follow, for there would be no draw available for the defender. Here then is the solution:

  1. Qd6+      Kc8  (forced)
  2. Qa6+      Kd8  (for alternatives, see a, b, and c below)
  3. Kd6  and black cannot avoid mate from Qa8#, without giving up the rook with no stalemate possible.

Alternative (a): Kb8 allows Qb5 which wins the rook

Alternative (b) Kc7 allows Qa7+ and the white king will soon advance to d6

Alternative (c) Kd7 allows Qb7+ with results like Alternative-b

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The Philidor Queen-versus-Rook

What is the Philidor position? It depends on what kind of endgame you’re talking about.

A Winning Combination

Consider the chess puzzle below, a problem not for beginners but ideal for lower-rated tournament players

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