Sunday, 1 December 2013

Holding Rook v Rook+Bishop (or tl;dr)

Rook v Rook and Bishop is one of those endings which is almost always drawn in theory, but often lost in practice. I only had the ending once, on the defending side, and although I managed to hold out for 50 moves before getting mated, it was when FIDE had extended the '50 move rule' to 75 moves for this specific ending.
So it is often the case that the ending is reached, and the stronger side will play on, in the hope (or expectation) that the defender will slip up. And when they do, the game often appears in a magazine or blog with a comment about how hard it is to hold (or even worse, point out that there was a mate in 22, according to their tablebase).
So to balance the scales, I have picked a very recent game from the World Teams Championship. Lev Aronian captures Mamedov's last pawn on move 77, reaching RB v R. But Mamedov knows what to do and successfully holds out for the next 50 moves, before the draw is claimed. Although it is quite a long game, it might be worth playing through, if you want to pick up the correct defensive ideas.

Aronian,Levon (2801) - Mamedov,Rauf (2647) [E60]
World Teams 2013 Antalya TUR (5.4), 30.11.2013

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