Queen Versus Rook Endgame of ChessHandling a Near-Philidor Position
This is very similar to the Philidor position, with the white king just one move awayfrom its key square: Insteadof being on f3, in Diagram-1,the attacking king is on f4.A key point to remember inthis chess end game is thatthe defender has the move,otherwise the attacker canjust move the king to thekey square and make it anorthodox Philidor position.The following positions arefrom the defender attacking the queen, for that lookslike a promising defense:Black will move Rg1.
Notice that the defender has few options in Diagram-1. If black moves Kh3, white has a matein three: Qh1+, followed by Qf3+ and Qg4# (mate). Of course a distant defense is possible,by the rook moving far to the left or far to the top, but white would then have options availablefor hunting down that rook (which techniques will be covered elsewhere).
From the position in Diagram-2, whitehas a forced sequence, a combinationthat fences the defending king into amating net, with no stalemate availablefor the defender.Queen-versus-rook end games, in theircountless possible positions, usually do not have such a quick easy winningcombination as we see here.
Qh4+ forces the defending king to g2,with no other legal move available.
Notice that the defender’s options arelimited because the rook is in the way.This distinguishs this particular variation of queen versus rook frommost other variations of this end game.
In Diagram-5, the black king will moveto f1, for after Kh1 white checkmatesthe defender with Qh3+.
Black has just moved Kf1, in Diagram-6.White now will continue driving thedefending king to the left.
Black now has only one legal move:Ke1. The queen moved to f3 partly to avoid capture from the rook.The mating net is about to close on the defending king.
Now consider Diagram-8 (white tomove). How would you proceed ifyou had the white pieces?If it were black’s turn, the king couldescape towards the center: Kd2, theonly legal move for the defender. Howdo you prevent that escape by blackand, in fact, prevent any move by thedefending king?
After white moves Ke3, black has noescape. The king has no move and anymove by the rook is futile.White threatens Qe2#, ending thisqueen-versus-rook end game with avictory for white. The only moves thatprevent that mate are Rg2 and Rg3,both of which lose the rook withoutany stalemate.Notice that if the rook were on d1,black would get a draw after Rd3+,for the capture of the rook on d3would result in immediate stalemate.
What exactly is this “near Philidor” position in the endgame of the queen versus rook? Let’s define it thus:1) The rook is on the near diagonal to a corner2) The defending king is next to both that rook and that corner square. 3) The queen is on the edge, three squares away from that corner square but is not checking that king. It is also a knight’s move away from the rook.4) The attacking king is a knight’s move away from the rook and on a diagonal from the defending king.
Eight different appearances of the near-Philidor (queen versus rook) arepossible on the chess board: two for each of the four corners.