English Chinese (Simplified) German Hindi Romanian Russian Spanish

21 Days to Supercharge Your Chess

Give me 21 Days and I Will Show You How to
Become a Dramatically Better Chess Player

Chess Talk

Chess Players Online:

We have 301 guests online

killer chess strategies

Famous Queen vs Rook endgame E-mail
Written by Yury Markushin   
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 23:54

queen vs rook endgameI have written multiple articles over chess strategy and the middle game, but for some reason I have avoided writing on the endgame theme.  I was scanning through the “Lazy Person’s Guide to Endgame” by GM Ian Rogers published in January 2010 Chess Life Magazine and decided to write my own thing.The first endgame analyzed by GM Rogers is the famous Queen vs. Rook ending.  He claims that it is an easy win for the side with the queen.  I decided to go ahead and test this Q vs. R endgame against the Chessmaster Grandmaster Edition, setting the Queen for myself and a Rook for the engine. After about 20 tries I found this task to be impossible.

In fact, according to ChessBase most GMs are not able to win against perfect defense of the computer. I used Nalimov’s Endgame Tables  and concluded that it is possible to win in 30 moves if white to move or 31 move if Black to win, and if Black doesn’t win the queen.

queen - rook endgame

Most guides show the way to checkmate in well known Queen vs. Rook “Key” position (shown below), but missing most important part – getting to this position.  They assume it to be an easy task, when in reality it turns out to be extremely complicated against the perfect defense.

The most difficult thing for a human mind to overcome in this sort of endgame is so-called “third rank defense”.  In this defense weaker side places its rook on the third rank and not allowing opponent’s king to penetrate:

3rd rank defense

According to the Nalimov’s Tables there is a win in 19 in this position.

1. Qf4 Kd7 2. Qa4+ Kc7 3.Qa7+ Rb7 4.Qc5+ Kb8 5.Kd6 Rg7 6.Qd5 Rg6+ 7.Kd7 Rb6 8.Qe4 Rb3 9.Qe5+ Ka7 10.Qc5+ Kb8 11.Kc6 Rb7 12.Qa5 Rb1 13.Qe5+ Ka7 14.Qd4+ Ka8 15.Qh8+ Ka7 16.Qh7+ winning the rook  and the game

How to win Queen vs. Rook endgame?

  • Against a human opponent there is a possibility of winning this endgame if weaker side plays incorrect defense resulting in winning a rook by the fork or mating the king.  So, if you’re the stronger side with a Queen you should definitely play on and try to outplay your opponent. If you’re the one defending you have a hope: the game Gelfand – Svidler ended up with a draw and the game Morozevich – Jakovenko was drawn in this endgame.
  • The “book” idea is to create the following position (or the symmetrical one) which is a win:

book win in chess

1. Qe4+ Kg8 2.Qa8 Kh7 3.Qe8 wins

Why is it hard to win Queen vs. Rook endgame?

  • As we can see from the Nalimov’s Tables there is a mate in 30 moves possible in the worst scenario.  Think about it, sometimes it is hard to find a mate in 4-5 moves, but here it is a mate in 30 (!) moves. It means, the player needs to calculate far upfront in order to see it.
  • There is also a 50 moves rule imposed by FIDE and USCF, which states that if there is no pawn moves or captures for 50 moves the game is declared to be a draw. The stronger side cannot afford try to win twice.

How to practice this endgame?

You can play this endgame by setting up your favorite chess engine to play for weaker side and try to checkmate it in 50 moves. It is also a great exercise which improves overall visualization of a chess board and especially the coordination of Rook and King and Queen and King.

Give it a try and comment about your accomplishments!

"There Are 3 Main Problems That 95% of All Chess Players Are Facing... "

start winning at chess

You will instantly discover how you can significantly improve your game, adding hundreds of elo points without hiring an expensive chess coach or spending 5 hours a day on chess !

Click Here to Start Your Training

Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 21:23


+1 #14 Eduardo 2015-06-26 18:34
Before I read this, I always resigned those games when I was the weak side (Rook and king) Against a queen and a king
But this helped me a lot!
I tried to beat Stockfish using the winning side and it's imposible !!
Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge Yury :lol: Greetings from Mexico
Quote | Report to administrator
+1 #13 El Barto 2014-08-03 21:52
The database is no longer stored at chessbase. If anyone out there has it, please send it to this email:

youngadultsuis at gmail com

Thanks a lot!!
Quote | Report to administrator
0 #12 MarkIX 2014-08-01 16:08
New rules came out this year. Now 75 moves are draw. Not 50.
Quote | Report to administrator
+2 #11 Warren Lemmon 2012-12-12 19:09
John Waitzkin points out that points are subjective to situation. For example, a bishop with no moves is useless. I feel that in the queen vs rook endgame, since the rook can stave off checkmate for 30+ moves, you might consider the rook to be around an 8, very close to the queen!
Quote | Report to administrator
+2 #10 Yury 2011-01-06 23:45
Yes there is a chance for a draw, but I would say not very large since all people (even the chess players) are prone to make mistakes... And it is a lot easier to make a mistake while under pressure and defending than when being a 4 points up.

Quick recap: I believe that if there are two roughly the same strength players playing this endgame the Queen will most likely win, since there are a lot of possibilities for forks winning the rook.
Quote | Report to administrator
+2 #9 Blue Eagle Hawk 2010-11-15 02:47
, want to ask about the chance of a queen vs. rook for a draw... do the player have only rook have a chance to have a draw with his opponent having a queen? thankc
Quote | Report to administrator
+2 #8 Yury 2010-08-15 09:33
Thanks, that's a very good database. It's not exactly a step-by-step but the recommendations are very useful.
Quote | Report to administrator
0 #7 magpie 2010-08-11 13:20
you can find a database about this ending at: www.chessbase.com/.../

more or less it is step by step what you were looking for
Quote | Report to administrator
+1 #6 Yury 2010-08-01 17:06
Hello Jack, thanks for your comment. As I have written before, it is one of the most difficult wins to achieve when playing against perfect play (aka computer).

There is no simple step-by-step system I know of that can guide you to the winning position. There are only a few positions you need to aim for to either checkmate or win the rook by force, but to calculate a way to those (assuming a perfect play again) one needs to be able to calculate 10 moves deep, which is hard for most of us.

However, against human opponents you can still try to trick them into some sort of fork giving series of checks. Good luck.
Quote | Report to administrator
+3 #5 jack werner 2010-07-20 14:43
you don't really show anyone how to get to the key position either. It would be nice if someone talked about how to get to the key position using a set of principals rather than showing one specific situation.
Quote | Report to administrator

Add comment

Please offer your feedback for the article here. Don't worry, your comment will appear shortly after approval. Only SPAM and abusive comments will be deleted.

Security code