I lost this game and I am not looking for a computer analysis, but what approach should I have taken instead? The game continued 1. Rxd4 Rb7 2. Rxc4 dxc4 3. a4 b4 4. Bd4 Rd7 5. Bb6 c3 6. Rb1 Rd5 7. Kf2 c2 8. Rc1 b3 and I lost.

 [FEN "6k1/r4pp1/4p3/pp1pP2p/2rn1P2/4B2P/PR4P1/3R2K1 w - - 0 1"]

 1. Rxd4 Rb7 2. Rxc4 dxc4 3. a4 b4 4. Bd4 Rd7 5. Bb6 c3 6. Rb1 Rd5 7. Kf2 c2 8. Rc1 b3
  • 17
    3.a4 looked like a big mistake.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 12:08
  • Wish I could find the game, but there was an online bullet game where Carlsen (?) sacs his queen to have two connected passed pawns in the midgame and just marches them down to show the sheer power of connected passers. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 23:38

4 Answers 4


You unblocking your opponent's passed d-pawn with 2. Rxc4 is what went wrong from a pragmatic perspective.

You are up a piece. The only way black wins this position is by promoting pawns so that you're not up a piece anymore (e.g. pushing that 2-to-1 queenside pawn majority).

This can be easily stopped with the following approach:

  1. Keep your rook where it is. It's doing a fine job blockading the passed d-pawn. Ideally, you want a knight to blockade the pawn, but the rook can do this as well.
  2. Bring your last piece (i.e. the king) over to the queenside to make sure those pawns don't go anywhere. They shouldn't since you have two rooks, a bishop and a pawn there already.

Try following the above advice by playing it out against a comp.

  • If you keep your rook on b file, how could you bring you K to help if black puts his rook on d file?
    – jf328
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 5:44
  • 1
    "Ideally, you want a knight to blockade the pawn" - why?
    – Pedro A
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 21:40
  • 1
    @PedroA A few reasons, but the most important is that the knight doesn't lose its mobility when blockading compared to other pieces. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 16:12
  • @lololololol Thanks, that makes sense!
    – Pedro A
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 16:37
  • 3
    @PedroA It's also really useful that it automatically attacks any pawn trying to protect the blockaded pawn.
    – htd
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 17:12

One basic endgame rule of thumb that could help here, is that 2 connected passed pawns on the 6th rank are worth about as much as a rook, and 2 connected passed pawns on the 7th rank beat a rook. By playing 3. a4, you allowed the black b pawn to pass, and connect with the already passed black c pawn. This is disastrous - you've basically given your opponent a rooks' worth of material if you want to look at it that way.

The a-b-c pawn group that black has at the start of this is their main asset - play defensively by moving your king and bishop in position to assist your rook in defending against that push, and you should be in a good place. Black has basically no other opportunities to advance without a lot of work, so you should have time to clean up the black pawns before another threat presents itself.

  • 1
    In short, the OP was not up one piece. He had a bishop for two pawns.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:31
  • @CarstenS Yes, this is a good example where a simple piece-counting is inaccurate. Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:46

Since you are not looking for a computer analysis, I would say that just looking at it, I would have taken with the bishop since it would be well-placed on d4 and gained a tempo. Then moved the king closer to d3. This would have rendered all of black's counterplay harmless.

I would have tried to avoid exchanging on c4 if at all possible, but even if not, with the king on d3, dxc4+ Kc3 would really stop b4 for a long time since then you would be pushing would lose the newly-created c4-pawn.

a4 was definitely a huge mistake giving black two passers. If it is not already lost there, it was probably at least equal already...so avoid a4 unless there is a very good reason since you do not want to give your opponent passed pawns that are that well supported.


As others mentioned, a4?? gives away white's advantage. You will likely have to return the piece to stop the passed pawns after this move.

I'm going to suggest a different alternative approach than others have suggested. I think 1. Rxd4 Rb7 2. Rxc4 dxc4 is fine. The key move now is 3. Rc2.

Black cannot play 3. ... b4 because of 4. Rxc4. If they attempt to support the pawn with 3. ... Rc7, that runs in to 4. Bb7. White has a clear plan to centralize the king and breaking up black's queenside majority and it's hard to suggest how black can prevent it: with the white rook on c2, a4 is now perfectly reasonable.

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