Rook and King vs King Puzzle One: White to move, mate in two

     ♚ A B C D E F G H 8 8 7 7 6 ♔ 6 5 ♖ 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 A B C D E F G H

One Rook and King vs King

An endgame comprised of a single Rook and King versus a King is one of the more common endgames, especially among lower rating Classes (beginners). Within an endgame with so few pieces remaining on the board, each King is forced to take a more active role and is commonly thought to have a 'perceived' power of about 4 points of material (stronger than a single minor piece, but not so strong as a single Rook). Because no King may make a move which would put it into check, the King alone may not checkmate an opponents King. Because the Rook is a ranged piece which cannot defend the diagonal square approaching it, the Rook alone may not checkmate an opponents King. Working together, the Rook can deliver checkmate while the King is preventing escape in 100% of endgames which liquidate to this three-pieced scenario, so long as the weaker side cannot immediately capture the Rook on their next turn. The only two ways for the stronger side to not succeed would be to:

The process by which checkmate is rendered in the single Rook scenario is firstly to push the enemy King to an edge of the board (any edge will suffice), secondly to gain the opposition (have the weaker side end their turn on any edge of the board, two squares away and aligned with the stronger side's king), and finally to move the Rook to that same edge to deliver check and mate from no fewer than two squares distant from the enemy King. Below, please see a brief example of the interactions between the Black King and Rook delivering checkmate to the White King along the A file.

                   ¤                ¤ A B C D E F G H 8 ¤ 8 7 7 6 ¤ ¤ 6 5 ¤ ¤ 5 4 ¤ ¤ 4 3 3 2 ¤ 2 1 1 A B C D E F G H

Once the enemy King is driven to the edge of the board, all that remains of the game is a handshake (you have studied the opposition and solved puzzle one, yes?). The key is driving the King to that edge in the first place. The three keys to doing so are:

• Follow the enemy King with your own, using triangulation or small Rook moves to take and maintain opposition
• If the enemy King selects a move that doesn't bring it closer to the nearer edge, use your Rook to further confine the box of available squares
• Remember to isolate your Rook from your King by at least one rank or file - this will ensure the Rook can safely deliver checkmate instead of being captured

Below I create an annotated example of how a possible endgame may play out, showing black targets (¤) for the possible squares the Black King may move to and blue targets (¤) for the squares which White controls.

     ¤ A B C D E F G H 8 8 7 ¤ 7 6 ¤ 6 5 ¤ ¤ 5 4 ¤ 4 3 ¤ ¤ 3 2 ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ 2 1 ¤ 1 A B C D E F G H

MoveWhiteBlackAnnotation
1Ke3Kf51... Ke6 is met by 2.Ke4 to maintain opposition; 1... Kf6 by 2.Kf4 as well.
2Rd5+Ke62...Kg4 is only one square away from the edge. Moving up to the 6th rank has slightly more breathing room, and only e6 allows the king to attack the rook
3Ke4Kf6White's move is forced in that it is desirable to both defend the Rook, and not give the enemy King any additional squares back. Black is in zugzwang and must move away from the Rook... the f file is equally poor being two squares from each edge. We have the same relative position as after move 1, but Black has fewer safe squares remaining
4Rd6+Kg7Black realizes that the Rook cannot be won, so takes the distant opposition. Isolated by one empty rank or file, the King is on a square of opposite color. White will not be able to take direct opposition on its next turn!
5Re6Kf7The Rook constricts the box of available squares yet again, the King tries to stay off an edge, but has run out of tactics
6Kf5Kg7White moves in to defend Rook. Black is in a dilemma. Either move onto the 8th rank and test White's final execution, or create an all too familiar pattern...
7Re7+...This check gives the King no option - he now must retreat to the edge of the board. Note the 'waiting move' of the Rook in both variants below

          ♚                ♖ ¤ A B C D E F G H 8 ♖ ¤ 8 7 ¤ ¤ 7 6 ¤ ♔ 6 5 5 4 ¤ 4 3 3 2 ¤ 2 1 1 A B C D E F G H

MoveWhiteBlackAnnotation
7var1Re7+Kf8Black elects to gain some distance from White's King
8var1Kf6Kg8White takes the opposition, Black has one legal move.
9var1Kg6Kf8White takes the opposition, Black avoids 9...Kh8 10.Re8#... temporarily, at least
10var1ReXKg8White must move their Rook, to any square in the e file except for e8. This creates a barrier which the Black King cannot pass through. Black has only one legal move...
11var1Re8#1-0Checkmate.

                                  ¤ A B C D E F G H 8 8 7 7 6 ¤ 6 5 ♚ 5 4 ♖ ¤ 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 A B C D E F G H

MoveWhiteBlackAnnotation
7var2Re7+Kh6Black decides to test White's theory of the opposition
8var2Kf6Kh5White instantly takes the opposition. Black flees towards the first rank...
9var2Re4Kh6...only to be immediately hemmed in by the Rook, forcing the Black King to the square he'd least like to be on
10var2Rh4#1-0Checkmate.

Two Rooks and King vs King

To arrive at an endgame two major pieces down is a clear indication that... something has gone very wrong. Typical of a training game with someone brand new to the game, who maybe tried something aggressive in the midgame, which did not pan out well. At high levels of play this endgame would be scarce indeed, with an advantage of one major piece in the endgame likely leading to a resignation. With two Rooks in play, the stronger side's King becomes arbitrary and is not required for checkmate (in fact, the stronger side's King can either delay {due to limited range} or interfere with {due to breaking rank or file of Rook's control} checkmate).

Below is a diagram of a game on the brink of checkmate.

¤ ¤ ¤      ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ A B C D E F G H 8 ♚ ¤ 8 7 ¤ ¤ ♖ ¤ 7 6 ¤ ¤ ¤ ♖ 6 5 ¤ 5 4 ¤ 4 3 ¤ 3 2 ♔ ¤ 2 1 ¤ 1 A B C D E F G H

The method to earn checkmate with Two Rooks is to:

• Protect your Rooks (with King, or by moving them to the same rank or file)
• Alternating one Rook then the other, step them one rank or file at a time in the direction of the enemy King (moving towards the edge of the board)
• If the enemy King attacks a Rook diagonally, either defend with other Rook or move the attacked piece as far away as possible (move Rook perpendicularly to the direction in which you are trying to move the enemy King)
• Note: it will often take fewer moves to either defend with the other Rook (zugzwang), or move away. Styles make fights

Rook(s) and King vs King Mate Puzzle Two: White to move, mate in 7

 A B C D E F G H 8 8 7 7 6 ♚ 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 ♔ 1 A B C D E F G H

Sources

Solutions to puzzles

Solution to RKvK Puzzle 1
MoveWhiteBlackAnnotation
1Rc5Ke8The white King creates a press, the Rook cuts off escape
2Rc8#1-0The Rook checks and the black King has no escape

Solution to RKvK Mate Puzzle 2
MoveWhiteBlackAnnotation
1Re5Kb6White creates a pen for the black King. Whichever way the King moves, White will push towards the edge perpendicular to the motion
2Rd6+Kc7Black King attacks the d Rook...
3Rh6Kd7...the Rook dances away. King tries to protect 4.Re7...
4Ra5Kc7...and the other Rook moves to the A file
5Ra7+Kb8The black King does not have the range to protect the squares it needs to in order to survive
6Rg7Kc8With both Rooks at range, the black King has no hope
7Rh8#1-0The Rook checks and the black King has no escape