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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rook Handling

      There’s R & P endings, exchange sacrifices, occupation of open files, occupation of the 7th rank, batteries and R-lifts. These heavy weight pieces are invaluable and you just have to love them.

      Everybody knows that before you undertake an attack, you’re supposed to complete your development, but CJS Purdy advised that before any middlegame schemes are devised, you should take a look at your Rooks. As he advised, it’s a good idea to make sure they are connected. Then look for a good file put them on. Even if there’s no open file, place them on files that are likely to become open. The idea is to get them into the position of maximum readiness. Purdy advised that as a general rule, it’s a wise player that restrains himself from a premature attack and readies his R’s for the future. Of course you’ll often see GM’s not following this advice, but it’s a good idea not to break it yourself unless there’s a good reason.
      In fact, R’s are so important that in his classic work, Modern Chess Strategy, Ludek Pachman wrote that the chapter on R’s was one of the most important in the whole book. He pointed out that of all the pieces, the R’s are the most difficult to bring into play and their development requires, among other things, carefully planned P-advances, well chosen exchanges and correct timing in castling. Correct handling of R’s demands a great understanding of the strategy. There’s that word that is so much hated by so many average players…strategy. But, if one would just make a brief study of R’s in action, just think of how much it would add to one’s understanding and sometimes all it takes to win a game is a little better understanding or a little more knowledge than your opponent has. Of course the same is true in others areas of life, too. But that’s got nothing to do with chess.
      One of the simplest methods of attacking the enemy K is to use R’s on open files. Often however, the way must be prepared by P-advances in order to open up vital files. In the following game, Pachman demonstrates this strategy. I’m not sure Pachman’s analysis is 100% correct because sometimes authors fudge a little bit and don’t comment on alternative moves because they want to illustrate their point. This is especially true in those opening books advocating inferior openings, especially gambits.
      If you really want to get into some analysis, maybe even punch holes in mine, I suggest this game is a good one starting with Black’s 22nd move!

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