Hello, Dear chess friends!
In the new issue of Endgame series, we will cover an important endgame principle: rook activity. Rook is a piece that often shows its greatest strengths in the endgame when most of the pawns and pieces disappear and it can move freely across the board. According to the statistics published by Mueller and Lamprecht in 2011, the most common type of endgame is exactly rook vs. rook endgame (8.45% in all games played), while endgames involving at least one rook appear in approximately 37% of all games played. So, when you sit at the board, there is more than one in three chance that you will play a rook endgame on that day! I do not think that we need to give further reasons why it is important to have a good understanding of rook’s capabilities in the endgame. Now, a well-known rule of thumb says that active rook in the endgame is worth a pawn. This does not apply to all positions, but in many of them, this is indeed the case. Our goal in this survey is to explore exactly such endgames where activation of the rook is the best strategy, even at the cost of a pawn. We start with a grandmaster encounter from the recently finished Russian Higher League: