15 November 2012

Rook Endings According to Rabinovich

In A Textbook for Teaching Endgames, I introduced 'The Russian Endgame Handbook' by Ilya Rabinovich and quoted from the author's 'Foreword':-

First, study the first five chapters Then, proceeding to the following chapters, we recommend that you rely on the "concentric" method of teaching them – that is, first acquaint your audience only with the basic positions in each chapter, delaying a deeper study of the given theme to the second ring. The toughest questions (chapters 9 and 14 – [Pawn and Rook] endings, for example) we recommend that you divide up into three concentric rings.

The ring concept, although intriguing, is largely self-explanatory. Looking at the topics for the chapter on Rook Endings, I would expect to find the same in any similar book. The order is definitely unusual; most books start with Rook vs Pawns (and no Rook).

337 CHAPTER 14: Rook Endings
337 A Rook + Rook Pawn vs Rook [Examples 197-213]
361 B Rook + non-Rook Pawn vs Rook
362 a) Black's King stands in front of the Pawn
369 b) Black's King is driven away from the Pawn
393 c) Black's King is behind the Pawn [Examples 214-253]
404 C Rook + two Pawns vs Pawn
404 a) Connected Pawns
409 b) Disconnected Pawns [Examples 254-273]
417 D Rook vs Pawns
417 a) Single Pawn
426 b) Rook vs two Pawns
436 c) Rook vs three Pawns [Examples 274-296]
441 E Rook + Pawn vs Rook + Pawn
447 F Rook + two Pawns vs Rook + Pawn
453 G Rook endings with a large number of Pawns

471 CHAPTER 15 Queen vs Rook (or Rook + Pawns)

I've included the starting page numbers for each section to give an idea how much material is available for that topic. The 134 pages for the chapter are roughly 25% of the book's 523 pages. If that seems like a large book, it's partly because there is ample white space on each page.

I imagine that splitting the material 'into three concentric rings' means a few examples from each section for the first ring, with the rest of the material through section 'F' for the second ring. Section 'G', which necessarily builds on all of the preceding material, would be the third ring, supplemented with the examples at the end of each major section. The examples, presented with solutions, are exercises to test your knowledge of the basic material. Here is a sample page from section 'B'.

Section 'G' examines 12 endgames.

  • Capablanca – Tartakower; New York 1924
  • Kashdan – Alekhine; Folkestone 1933
  • Levenfish – Lisitsyn; Moscow 1935
  • Lasker – Levenfish; Moscow 1925
  • Eliskases – Levenfish; Moscow 1936
  • Alekhine – Capablanca; World Championship (34); Buenos Aires 1927
  • Flohr – Ragozin; Moscow 1936
  • Capablanca – Yates; Hastings 1930
  • Duras – Capablanca; New York 1913
  • Alekhine – Euwe; World Championship (27); Netherlands 1935
  • Lasker – Eliskases; Moscow 1936
  • Rabinovich – Levenfish; Moscow 1935

Many of these are familiar endgame examples, even classics, and half of the games are from the three pre-WWII Moscow tournaments. This underscores the book's main weakness: the material is severely dated and has been rehashed in more recent endgame books. Having said that, I can't think of any reason not to use the Rabinovich work as an introductory text. Has anyone checked its analysis against a tablebase?

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