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 The Vancura Position 








 

Rook Endgame Course - R + P Endings; 
 Position # 1[F.], (Vancura Position) (1.6); 
 12.09.1999 

[A.J. Goldsby I]

***

 ( Position check:  White - King on c4, Rook on a8, Pawn on a6; 
 Black - King on g7, Rook on f6. ) 


White to move. Black must try to get a draw. 

This is called,  "The Vancura Position." 

Discovered/composed by Josef Vancura, 1924. 

Cross-reference: 
[ See  "Winning Chess Endings,"   
 Chapter # 4, page # 88. Diagram # 99. ]. 

This study was published in 1924. 

It was not published until 3 years after the composer died! 
(Czech composer, Josef Vancura - 1898-1921.).


Mastery of this position is BASIC  (and required!)  Rook-and-Pawn 
End-game knowledge!!! You will save MANY tournament games with 
thorough  knowledge of this endgame position!! 


1. Kb5,  
The only good move here. White is attempting to make progress. 

     [ After 1.a7 Ra6!2.Kb5 Ra13.Kb6 Rb1+4.Kc7 Rc1+
        5.Kd7
Ra1;  Black cannot make progress. ].  

 

1...Rf5+;  
A good and necessary move. White was threatening to play 2. Rc8 and win. 
(Because the White King is protecting the RP.).  

2. Kc6 Rf6+3. Kd5,  
Clearly the King cannot advance, (to the b7-square); because of the endless 
series of checks by the Black Rook on the f6, f7, and f8 squares. 

3...Rf5+4. Ke6 Rf6+5. Ke5 Rb6!;  
Black has run out of checks, but continues to threaten White's a6-Pawn. 
Incidentally, he also sidesteps the very BIG threat of 6. Rg8+! and swapping 
the Rooks. This, of course, would win for White - who could then 
promote his QRP. (!!)  

6. Kd5 Rf6!;  
Maintaining the blockade/barrier on the sixth rank. 
THIS IS AN EXTREMELY CRITICAL PART OF THIS 
ENDGAME TECHNIQUE!  

7. Ra7+ Kg68. Ra8 Kg7!;  (The best move!) 
White cannot make progress. Play this position out with a friend. 
(One of the best ways to study, by the way!)  

***

     [ Bad for Black is: 8...Rb6?9.Kc5 Rf610.Kb5 Re6?11.a7 Kf6?;   
       ( Best is 11...Kg7[]; )    12.Rf8+

  Analysis Diagram. White wins, as he promotes his pawn. (eg_1_pos-1.jpg, 14 KB)
Analysis Diagram. 
(Inverted Diagram.)

     and White promotes his pawn. It is exactly because of ideas like this 
     that Black's King cannot leave the squares g7 and h7!! ]. 

***

Now after: 
9. a7
White gives up hope of making progress in the present position, 
 and decides to advance his RP, to try a different tack. 

  Now we NO LONGER have the Vancura Position, but another  
  well-known dead- drawn position, mainly because White's Pawn 
  is a RP!  
 (Normally White can hide his King on the other side of the Pawn, 
  but here he cannot ... because the RP is on the edge of the board. 
  If White's Pawn were a NP, he would have an easy win!!)  

9...Ra610. Kc5 Ra111. Kb6 Rb1+12. Kc6 Rc1+
13. Kd6 Rd1+14.Ke6 Ra1;   Draw. 
 ... and White cannot make progress. We have actually transposed to 
another type of R+P ending, that is a well-known known book draw. 

In this ending, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT BLACK 
CANNOT EVER  TRY TO APPROACH THE RP WITH HIS KING!
 (This is the normal or natural reaction!) 
THIS IS BECAUSE WHITE COULD SIMPLY PLAY HIS ROOK
TO h8, FOLLOWED BY A WINNING SKEWER -
(R from h8 to h7 check, followed by RxR - winning. Black would have 
to play RxP/a7 - - - to prevent White from promoting. This would then 
allow White to win Black's Rook by an "X-Ray Attack.");
IF BLACK EVER LEAVES THE SAFETY ZONE OF THE
SQUARES g7 OR h7!!!!!
(Additionally, if Black's King ever jumps to the 3rd Rank, White plays
his Rook behind the Black King, WITH CHECK, and promotes his
Pawn. This of course would also win for White.)

But as long as Black continues to check, and/or keeps his King on the
squares g7 or h7, and additionally keeps Rook behind the White Pawn
when he is not checking; Black has absolutely nothing to fear and can
draw with ease.

It is worth practicing this endgame several times with a friend - or even on 
your computer - in order to master this position completely. 

1/2 - 1/2


 Another GOOD exercise is to learn to recognize these types of positions ... 
 before they occur on the chessboard! 
For example:  Go back to the starting position above. 

Now move the Black Rook from f6 to h6. Now consider this new position as Black to move
It is obvious - now that you know the technique!! - that Black's Rook needs to be available 
for 'unlimited' duty, i.e., to be able to check the White King as often as possible! 
 Therefore the solution to our new position is to play: 1...R/h6 to f6!! 

 This gives us the  VANCURA POSITION, (above);  which we now know to be a draw! 


 If you enjoyed this position, and would like to study  ANOTHER 
 Rook-and-Pawn endgame,  ("The LUCENA Position");  click HERE


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 Copyright, (c) A.J. Goldsby I 

  A.J. Goldsby, 1994-2004.  Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 2005. All rights reserved. 

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