This post was going to be about Rook Lifts but White, sadly, misplayed his attack and so the title became ‘Botching a Winning Attack.’ Rook handling is always a difficult task especially for beginners. CJS Purdy pointed out that one of the goals in the opening should be to connect R’s. Most players beyond the beginner level know that. Also, most of us know the rules about open files, but in many cases find difficulty in answering the question, which R? You know, decide which R goes on the open file, then move the other one onto it because we always choose the wrong one. We also know the importance of R’s on the 7th (or 2nd) rank. Ludek Pachman wrote that R handling requires a great understanding of the strategy suited to a particular position; there’s that word, strategy, that seems so despised by average players these days.
Another part of R handling is the R-lift where R’s are actively placed in front of the P’s to attack the opponent’s K. Sometimes the R can even be placed in front of its own P’s even when there is no thought of attacking the K. The reason for this is that P-advances are generally necessary to open files and long ago Steinitz showed that every P-advance reduces its prospects in the ending. In the closed positional type of game players often try to keep P’s on their original squares as long as possible. So, if the R’s are to operate they must do so in front of their own P’s. This is a good idea to keep in the back of your mind when the normal methods of using them on open files is ineffective or not available.
I was looking for some examples of R’s in front of its own P’s and came across this game and when I saw White lost, was going to move on to another one, but the game has redeeming qualities. Just check out Farago’s 35th and 42nd move. It also illustrates the point that even after you have established an overwhelming position games do not win themselves. After about 25 moves Eperjesi had a really great position but a series of weak moves let the game slip away. We all know from experience how easily that happens.