Only a relatively few chess books contain anything about queen-versus-rook end games, even though they are filled with tactical and strategic possibilities. One of those exceptional books is Practical Chess Endings, by Irving Chernev, although it has only one page on the Philidor position of the queen versus rook.
Does White have a winning move in the following position?
Diagram-1 – White to move
In Diagram-1, we can see several possibilities for the white queen. It can check the defending king by moving to c8 or to c7. Notice that the line of attack points to the rook, which is behind its king. But either of those queen moves could be answered by the black king moving to b4, protecting the rook. What about moving the queen to a5? It would then check the black king and attack the rook at the same time. But that king could move to c4, protecting the rook.
In Diagram-1, does the queen have a move that will attack both king and rook, without allowing that king to defend the rook by moving to c4 or to b4? Yes, the queen can move to d4, and that is the winning move, for when the king moves out of check the queen can then capture the rook.
But that can be a difficult problem for the chess beginner, for the novice who had not yet seen that tactic in the queen versus rook end game. Let’s look at an easier chess puzzle.
Diagram-2 – White to move
Can White win the rook quickly, in Diagram-2, capturing it within a couple of moves or so? Yes, and the concept is easy to understand. Notice that the black king and rook are on a diagonal line, with the diagonal extending from a3 through c5 (where the king is standing) to f8. The key to finding this kind of winning move is to ask this question: Can the queen safely move to a square along that diagonal? Yes it can: Either Qe7 or Qf8 will work.
Notice that either of those queen moves will put the black king in check, forcing it to move off of that diagonal. The rook will then be exposed and the queen will capture it. This particular tactic is called a “skewer.” In the queen-versus-rook end game, a skewer might also be available along a horizontal or a vertical line.
Diagram-3 The black king must move off that diagonal
The line of attack extends, in Diagram-3, from the queen through the black king to the rook. In the queen-versus-rook end game, the side with the queen also needs to be careful to avoid allowing the opponent to use a skewer, with the rook winning the queen. And that is just one tactic available in this end game.
Let’s examine easily-remembered principles in this special case of a corner-defense in this type of end game.
Let’s begin this kind of endgame study with defense: How do you draw when you have only a rook and king and your opponent has only a queen and king?
Many tens of thousands of books have been written about chess, over the centuries, and most of those were probably published since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Many chess competitors would find ‘Beat That Kid in Chess’ too elementary, with hardly anything to offer for the average tournament player. Yet how many persons know the rules of chess but have hardly a clue about how to play well!