Rook on the Seventh

Seven is heaven for rooks. Because when a rook gets to the 7th rank the opponent’s vulnerable points are easily accessible. A rook on the 7th rank often helps win material or create a mating attack. It also often forces the opponent’s forces to take passive positions if he tries to defend what this rook is attacking.

How can someone fight against a rook on the 7th rank? Basically you don’t want to give it any targets; without targets the 7th rank doesn’t have particular significance. If you can’t do this then make sure that weak points are sufficiently defended. You might also try to exchange the rook on the 7th for one of your own rooks or if this is not possible then at least try to hamper it’s stability on the 7th.

Here are some entertaining examples from real games that demonstrate the power of a rook on the 7th rank:

Sergei Rublevsky against Pentala Harikrishna in 2006


Q: Black’s last move was Rb8-a8 with an idea of Rxa7 followed by Qa8. What did white miss?
A: Rook has denied leaving the 7th rank with queen sacrifice which led to heavy material surplus.

Game continued as follows:

1.Rxb7!! Qxa1 2.Rxa1

Further material loss can’t be avoided. Black resigned after few more moves.

Louis Paulsen against Samuel Rosenthal

Q: White had already the Rook on 7th rank. How would you make use of it?
A: White come up with the following idea:

1.c5!!

This sets up crucial targets on the 7th rank for the rook.

1…bxc5

1…dxc5 leads nowhere after Rxc7+ followed by Rxg7

2.Qxc5

With the same idea.

2…Qe8??

Black avoided the following variation: 2…dxc5 3.Rxc7+ Kb8 4.Rxg7+ Kc8 5. Rxg6 when further pawn loss can’t be avoided.

3.Qa5

Black resigned after 4 more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan