Endgames of this type are difficult and often end in a draw, especially if the attacking side has a rook and a knight against the rook. Apart from specific situations where the king is pushed into a mating net, the prospects of a rook with a knight tend to be slim.
A different situation occurs if the attacking rook is supported by a bishop, which, thanks to its long range, can unpleasantly harass the weaker side. Defense tends to be difficult, but offense isn’t trivial either, so it’s definitely better to avoid such positions in advance. Let’s look at an almost three-century-old analysis by Phillidor, who tried to find a winning strategy for a rook and a bishop against a rook:
So, what tactical tips did we learn here:
- Force the opponent’s king to the edge of the board.
- Get your king to the opposition.
- Use the bishop to protect your king from the opponent’s rook checks.
- Put the opponent to zugzwang, so they must leave a strategically important square with their rook.