Review of One Rook Saves the Day

Ever since hearing Andrzej Krzywda on Perpetual Chess I have been making much more of an effort to include solving studies a part of my training routine.

I have long been a firm believer in solving, but most of what I have solved is tactical puzzles, and generally I’ve gravitated towards the simpler ones at that.

However, for pure calculation training I have been told by numerous people that it’s hard to top the effectiveness of endgame studies.

Elk a Ruby,  a quite welcome recent addition to publishing chess books in English has published a collection of thematic study collections call “One ____ Saves the Day” where the ____ can be Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight, etc.

The studies were compiled by Sergei Tkachenko, who was a member of the Ukrainian team which won the 5th World Chess Composition Tournament in 1997.

What’s particularly nice about these studies is the (relative) ease of solving them.

This is not to imply that they are simple to solve…certainly they are not!  However, compared to the level of most endgame study collections such as Kasparyan, they are much more manageable for those at the club player level.

The concept is that at the end of the solution, White will be left with just one of the titular pieces.  So in this case, a rook.

The book is comprised of 100 studies, and almost all solutions run six moves or less, which again speaks to the fact that most are solvable with varying degrees of difficulty at the club level.  Contrast this with studies I’ve been shown by various GM’s with solutions running 12-15 moves, almost none of which I could solve on my best day.

Let’s take a look at the first position, where it’s White to play and draw.

Take a few minutes to calculate if you like, and then let’s look at the solution…

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The main point to take home from this puzzle/solution, whether you took the time to solve this one or not,  is that this is certainly a puzzle that most club level players should be able to solve given the right amount of effort.

I’d like to speak a bit more to that point actually.  When it comes to certain elements of the game, such as tactics puzzles, it seems to be well understood by authors and publishers alike that material should be broken out by level.  This is why it’s relatively easy to find tactics books for players of all levels.

Want something basic?  There are hundreds of books to choose from?  Want something intermediate?  Hundreds more.  Advanced?  Still a few dozen of those as well!

Unfortunately I’ve had a much harder time finding books on studies broken out like this over the years.  Which is why this series of books comes as such a wonderful addition to the cannon of chess literature.

I sincerely hope that Sergei will continue to collect studies at this level, even if Ilan Rubin has to pester him until he does!  If there are already more collections out there waiting to be translated, then by all means, let’s keep them coming!

I should also point out that I read this book on the Forward Chess app, which is a great way to get practice on the go using your phone.  Forward Chess has a nice pop up feature where you can expand the board for easier viewing.  In addition, you can review the studies in quiz mode so that the solution isn’t visible until you want it to be.

I highly recommend the two volumes I have read in this series, which are this one and One Bishop Saves the Day.  While I have not read the others, I can certainly say that if they are anywhere near as good as these two then they are well worth reading.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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