How to Use Your Rooks effectively
Chess Middlegame Strategy

How to Use Your Rooks effectively?

How to Use Your Rooks effectively?

How to use your rooks effectively? This is a question that normally confuses beginners.  The most commonly misunderstood piece in chess is the rook. Many players have real problems with their rooks and don’t know how to play with them. In this post, I will share with you three important techniques that will help you use your rooks effectively.

Also if you want to learn more about how to use rooks effectively, especially in endgames, I recommend you to watch the next video.

Techniques to Use Your Rooks Effectively

How to use rooks effectively

1. Put Your Rooks on Open Files

If your rook occupies an open file, it can later penetrate your opponent’s camp. The 7th and 8th ranks are very important for the attack.  The bases of your opponent’s pawn structure are in the 7th rank, which by nature need the support of their pieces and are generally defenseless. The 8th rank can also be important because if your opponent’s king doesn’t have an escape square on his castling, then we might try to checkmate it by the 8th rank.

Incredible as it may seem, in chess, sometimes, the advantage of being able to control an open file can be decisive even if both sides have equal material. Let’s see the next example.

1.1

How to use Rooks effectively

In this position, if White is to play, he is already winning. White can play 1. Rd7! and win one of the two black pawns (b7 or e7) and, unfortunately for Black, there is no compensation for this loss. But Black’s problem is not only that he will be a pawn down, but also that White’s rook remains very active and Black’s rook is passive.

Now let’s see another instructive example.

1.2

How to use Rooks effectively

In this diagram, we can see that the white rook already controls the open file, but cannot enter on d7 because the knight on f6 controls that square. So, in these cases, the concept to remember is “eliminate the defender or defenders which control the squares of entry”. So, the right move is 1. Bxf6!, after 1…Bxf6 2. Rd7! Rc8, and now 3. Rc7!; and Black cannot avoid the loss of one of his pawns (c5 or a7).

2. Double Your Rooks

One of  the most effective ways to occupy an open file is to double your rooks. When you manage to double your rooks, the efficiency and strength of your pieces is multiplied and, at the same time, it’s difficult for your opponent to defend. The next example illustrates this.

2.1

In this position, Black is tied down to the defense. White’s rooks are pretty active and dominate the only open file. If you compare this position with the first example, you’re going to see that here the power of the rooks are stronger. 1. Rd7! Rab8 2. Rxe7. One important concept to keep in mind is that, when you already dominate the file and infiltrate on the 7th rank, you should aim to double your rooks on the 7th rank! So here, after 2. Rxe7, White’s plan is to play Rdd7; Black must stop this by playing 2…Rfe8.

Now White has a few good moves, but the one that shows the compelling power of the rooks is 3. Rc7!, not allowing Black to exchange one pair of rooks. 3…Rxe4 4. Rdd7, with full domination! 4…Rf8 5. Rxb7 a5 6. Rdc7 Re6 7. Ra7+- is decisive.

When there are no open files, but there is the possibility of creating one, doubling rooks is still a very important technique, as we will see in the following diagram.

2.2

How to use Rooks effectively

In this position, there are no open files, but you can open the a-file by playing 1. a4 and exchanging pawns on b5. The pawn break is a common method to open a file.

However, Black can play 1…Kd7 and connect his rooks. For this reason, opening the a-file prematurely does not lead to anything. In these types of positions, the key is to 💡 double rooks first and then open the file 💡. You can see the complete analysis below.

 

3. Triple Your Major Pieces on an Open File

If doubling the rooks is a powerful thing, now imagine what can happen when you triple the major pieces in a file. Look at the following diagram.

3.1

How to use Rooks effectively

The above diagram shows that Black is completely paralyzed and cannot coordinate his pieces because White is dominating the d-file. Here White can play 1. Rd7! and, after 1…Rfe8 protecting the e-pawn, White should play the strong move 2. e5! with clear advantage +/-, aiming to play e6, destroying Black’s pawn structure.

It’s important to mention that the best square for the queen in this type of position is behind both rooks; this is because there is no exposure and you can attack with freedom. Having said this, also the queen can be in the middle of both rooks and this is considered OK.

Now let’s go to the next example. Here is a classic game between two great players Alexander Alekhine, 4th World Chess Champion vs Aron Nimzowitsch, one of the best players of the world in 1930. Let’s see how to use rooks effectively by the hand of a World Champ! 😃

3.2

It’s White to move, and he played 1. Rfc1. Alekhine realizes that the c-file is a good place to triple mayor pieces and the c7 and c6-squares are weak squares. Black has no counterplay on the other side of the board and his pieces are not coordinated. You can see the rest of the game below.

 

Conclusion

  1. The rooks belong to open files.
  2. An open file is only important if you can penetrate into the opponent’s camp.
  3. If there is no open file, consider a pawn break to open up.
  4. First double rooks, and then open the file.
  5. When the opponent is tied down to the defense, consider going to attack other weakness on the other side of the board.

Using effectively your rooks can bring you a lot of wins! I hope you liked the middlegame techniques presented in this article. If you want to know more about middlegame concepts, I highly recommend you to grab our recent course “Top 25 Middlegame Concepts“. This is a guide for average players so that they can enrich themselves with the most essential concepts that occur in the middlegame. 😃💪

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