Rook Endings

Rook and King v King

1)  As you play more competitive Chess and your games get closer with stronger opponents, the likelihood is that you will play more and more Rook Endings 

As a quick aside does anybody know where the name Rook derives from? 

Rook comes from the Persian/ Syrian term Rukh meaning chariot as this was the piece in predecessor games of chess in India. These Indian chariots had large walled structures on them, more like a fortification. As it spread into Europe, the Italian term Rocca (meaning fortress) may have caused the shape to change.

2)  Anything up to 50% of all Tournament Games at Grandmaster level, end up as Rook ending, this is a disproportionately large % 

3)  At the moment it’s likely you are not coming across too many Rook endings, but if you start to play in Leagues and Weekend competitions, this will change and you should acquaint yourselves with such endings. 

4)  Any correct method of Teaching Chess should address the issue of Endgame theory of which Rook endings proliferate – We shall return later to this subject where it’s appropriate to deal with. 

5)  Whilst in a complicated middlegame, you will often get the opportunity to trade pieces and therefore enter the endgame. In many instances that will be a Rook ending where Pawn structures and Kings position will also be important. 

6)  Rook Properties 

Remember the Rook is a long range Piece. A Rook needs open Files & Ranks, 

a Rook on an A or H file controls the same number of squares as it does on say d4 or e4 

Long distance checks are often used to prevent the opponent’s King or Pawn advancing and force repetitions (draws)

Get behind your opponents Passed pawns with your Rook(s)

Cut the opponent’s King off! 

3rd Rank Blocking is optimal and often the solution to forcing your opponent to commit their “passed pawn“ to a step too far . 

Checkmate with King, Bishop and Knight against lone King

King and c6 pawn ending

Basic Checkmates

Rook and King

There are 2 things you should know to checkmate with a Rook

  1. The King can only be mated on the side of the board.
  2. Your King and Rook must work together as a team.

Queen and King

Once you know how to mate with a Rook, doing it with a Queen is easy. The shrinking box method works better as she can drive the King to the edge of the board all by herself.

2 Rooks mate

The simplest mate to learn is with two rooks.


A basic endgame which every player needs to know is King and Pawn against king. It can occur quite frequently if a game is played out.

An easy win for white, the King shepherds home the pawn via b6, b7 and b8, Black can only watch.


White wins no matter whose turn to move. If Black's move then 1......Kg8 2.Ke7 and White shepherds home the pawn.

If White's move 1. Kg6 Kg8 2. f6 Kf8 3. f7 Ke7 4. Kg7 and the pawn queens.


This is where most players go wrong, Black must go straight back with 1......Kf8 2.Ke6 Ke8 3.f7 Kf8 4.Kf6...drawn by stalemate.

If he plays instead.......


1.......Ke8 then 2.Ke6 Kf8 3.f7 Kg7 4.Ke7 and White shepherds home the pawn.

A pawn on the a or h file vastly improves the weaker side's drawing chances. Here White has a similar position to endgame 2a and 2b but can make no progress. If 1Kb6 Kb8 2.a6 Ka8 3.a7 is stalemate!