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February 27, 2014

Charge to break up the rook battery

In this week’s position, white has just snatched a pawn on d5. Black’s best reply equalizes, even though white is a pawn ahead. Black’s best reply is one of two similar moves. Both involve coordinating the rooks and putting pressure on white’s queen. With this hint in mind, what is black’s best move?

Options for black include creating an airhole for the king by moving the h7 pawn to h6. Alternatively, black may move its queen to g6 and overprotect its bishop on e4. Best, however, is maintaining the rook pressure on the “e” file by moving the e8 rook to either e7 or e6. Moving to e7 is slightly better.

After black moves its rook to e7, white should not allow black to follow that up by moving the rook on a8 to e8. This would create a powerful one-two punch down the “e” file that would more than compensate for the loss of a pawn. The two rooks in combination like that is called a rook battery.

White's best reply to re7 is to move its rook on d5 to e5.

White’s move prevents black from forming a rook battery on the “e” file. This move also forces a mass simplification into an endgame. This is because black’s best reply is to capture white’s knight with the bishop.

White must recapture with its g2 pawn, otherwise white loses its rook on e5 to black’s queen and rook. Now, because of white’s queen and double rook battery on the “e” file, black takes white’s e5 rook with either its queen or rook. In the end, each side trades a rook and queen, leaving white with a rook on e5. Black then moves its king to f8 to stop white’s rook from penetrating to the 7th rank.

White still has an extra pawn. But white’s king-side pawn structure is ruptured and black’s king is better placed than its counterpart. From here, black has a good chance for a draw.

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