How should a chess instructor teach basic tactics to advanced beginners or lower-ranked tournament players? Consider using the endgame of king-plus-queen versus king-plus-rook. What marvelous tactics can be taught in this kind of endgame!
Few chess books have anything about the queen-vs-rook, even good chess books on endings. Yet this is here presented as a tool for chess teachers, a gift that can lift the tactical abilities of their students.
Let’s look at a way to draw when you’re on the losing side, probably not a popular approach for beginners, who naturally always think about winning.
Diagram-1 with Black to move and draw
We’re not talking about the fifty-move rule here nor three-move repetition. For chess instructors, Diagram-1 is an easy draw for Black, a simple concept. Yet this position can help a beginner to see a possibility he or she never before imagined in an endgame.
So how does a player find Rc6+ over the board? One way is to recognize that if the rook were removed from the board it would be a draw, with Black to move. It’s because the only square available to the defending king, after four squares are eliminated by the queen, is b6, which is next to the attacking king. The sacrifice Rc6+ forces the White king onto a square that still covers the only escape route for the black king: draw by stalemate.
Another way to find this simple combination is to first notice that the white king and queen are on the same file, and then notice that the black king has no legal move.
If you’re a beginner rather than a chess instructor, notice that after the rook moves to c6 (checking the white king) and the white king moves to d5 to get out of check (avoiding a stalemate) then the rook captures the queen and Black will have a draw after the white king captures the rook. With only kings on the board, it’s an immediate draw.
I recommend the book Winning Chess Endings, by Yasser Seirawan (ISBN-13: 978-1857443486), which has twelve pages on the queen-versus-rook endgame, a whole chapter at the end of the book.
That chapter is hardly a complete analysis of all the many challenges that may face a defender and attacker in this ending, but it has more than most chess books on the end game. It shows how to get to the Philidor position, which is critical in so many of these queen-versus-rook battles (which are actually rare in over-the-board competition).
Tournament players generally need more than just a basic knowledge of opening principles. They need at least a little knowledge of opening variations, at least a few of them, to some breadth and depth.
If you’re looking for a chess book to give to a teenager or if you are the teenager—either way, you need to consider the skill level of the reader.
Three publications: How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (by Murray Chandler), Beat That Kid in Chess (by Jonathan Whitcomb), and Conquer Your Friends (by Maxen Tarafa).
What is the Philidor position? It depends on what kind of endgame you’re talking about. With queen versus rook, it looks something like this . . .
Beat That Kid in Chess was created to prepare the early beginner to win a game of chess as quickly as possible. Unlike many other books on chess, this one does not try to push you into an advanced tournament level of ability, which can take years (with or without books).