Not many end-game chess books give much attention to the queen versus rook. Consider three books (none of which had beginners in mind, apparently):
- How to Play Chess Endings by Eugene Znosko-Borovsky
- Chess Endgame Training by Bernd Rosen
- Practical Chess Endings by Irving Chernev
The first book gives barely one page worth of text on queen-versus-rook, and the second one says nothing about it. The third book gives it the most attention, but that amounts to only one page demonstrating a win from the Philidor position. Let’s now consider a simple example of how to draw by stalemate (if you are the defender) and how to avoid the stalemate if you are the fortunate chess player to have a queen in such an end game.
Diagram-1 with Black to move
The chess puzzle of Diagram-1 is a bit advanced for some chess beginners, but it is simple once you have seen how it works. Black moves the rook down two squares: Rc6+. White must get out of check and capturing the rook is obvious. But if the white king captures that rook then it is a stalemate draw. That would be a disappointing end of a game in which the side with the queen was trying to win. But the only other move available to White (after Black moves Rc6+) would be a king move, which would allow the rook to capture the queen. The best that White can do to get out of that check would be to move the king to d5 or e5. After the rook captures the queen, the White king would capture that rook, ending the game with a draw, for a game in which there is only one king on each side is automatically a draw.
Avoiding a Draw for the Attacker
What can we learn from Diagram-1, that would benefit the stronger side? Be careful about putting your king and queen on the same rank or on the same file, especially when your opponent’s king is on the edge of the board. Don’t think of that as a rule, however, just a precautionary note.
Diagram-2 with White to move
In Diagram-2, the white king needs to approach the black king, if white is to win by an eventual checkmate. But is it safe to move Kd6 or Ke6? That would put the king and queen on the same rank.
White can move the king to either d6 or e6, with no danger of stalemate in Diagram-2. If the rook then moves to g6, the queen would capture it with check. Remember that stalemate can occur only when there is no check.
Notice that these simple puzzles have one thing in common: There’s a line from a king to the piece of the same color, and the opponent could take advantage of that line.
So how does “Beat That Kid in Chess” compare with those books that are best for beginners? It may be the only chess book that systematically uses the nearly-identical-positions method of training . . .
I’ve been promoting my own chess book (for novices) for several weeks now: Beat That Kid in Chess. So why would I mention two competing books on the royal game, both of them for beginners? Mine could be the only one ever written that uses a new teaching method called nearly-identical positions.
In Diagram-1, White may have more than one way to win this queen-versus-rook end game.
How few instructional chess books are suitable for the early beginner . . . who knows the rules but little else about the game! [like how to win]