In the following (now finished) game, I was unsure at this point how to proceed. One thought was to take the pawn at d4 with the rook, in order to entice a rook/rook trade since I'm up on material. But I was also thinking that I could use my advantage at that point to start pushing the abc pawns.

I ended up taking the pawn, and it worked, but I'm still not sure what the best approach in that situation was. Despite being ahead, I had no idea how to organize my forces into a coherent attack.

[FEN ""]
[StartPly "53"]
[StartFlipped "1"]
[White "SpartanDonut"]
[Black "almo2001"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1085"]
[BlackElo "1143"]
[TimeControl "1/604800"]

1. d4 d5 2. Bg5 f6 3. Bh4 Nc6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Bd3 Nh6 6. h3 e6 7. Nf3 Nb4 8. a3 Nxd3+ 9. cxd3 Bd6 10. Nc3 O-O 11. e4 dxe4 12. dxe4 Bg6 13. O-O Be7 14. g3 f5 15. e5 Bh5 16. Kg2 g5 17. Qb3 gxh4 18. Qxe6+ Kg7 19. Nxh4 Bxh4 20. gxh4 Bf7 21. Qf6+ Qxf6 22. exf6+ Kxf6 23. f4 Rad8 24. Rad1 Bd5+ 25. Nxd5+ Rxd5 26. Rfe1 Rfd8 27. Re5 Rxd4 28. Rxd4 Rxd4 29. Kf3 Nf7 30. Rb5 b6 31. Ke3 Re4+ 32. Kf3 Nd6 33. Re5 Nc4 34. Rxe4 fxe4+ 35. Kxe4 Nxb2 36. f5 Nc4
  • 3
    Since you're a piece up, it's a good idea to just trade down so that you have one piece in the end and your opponent has nothing. Just like you did in the game
    – Scounged
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


Should I push pawns or trade material?

Good question. You are winning either way but it's always more relaxing to win the easy way rather than the hard way.

The key in these sorts of endgames is how active the pieces are. Black's knight on h6 is terrible. It is doing nothing really useful and has no prospects unless it moves somewhere else. White's rook on e5 is very active. The rook on d1 is passive, albeit it is doing an important job of trying to defend the d4 pawn. The d4 pawn is undefendable so white would do well to jettison it in return for activity. White's next move should probably be Rde1 almost regardless of what black does. The two black rooks are attacking the white pawn and so are reasonably active.

If you were to start immediately pushing the queenside pawns then the obvious first move would be c5 because the d4 pawn is pinned. The idea would be to take with the c pawn and have a protected passed pawn but I don't think it is that good move. There is no rush. White's d pawn is yours whenever you want it. Try and look for better ideas.

The one really annoying thing about white's position is that rook on e5. So, for me the best move is Nf7 kicking it away. It also starts the process of moving the knight to a really good square. To my eye e4 looks like an excellent square for the knight. That is really going to annoy white and make life difficult. I would aim to get my knight there first and then think of taking the free pawn on d4.

Maybe something like this:

[fen "3r4/ppp4p/5k1n/3rRp2/3P1P1P/P6P/1P4K1/3R4 b - - 0 1"]

1...Nf7 2. Re3 (2. Rxd5 {alternatively} Rxd5 3. Kf3 c5 4. Ke3 Nd6 {Nc4+ is calling me} 5. b3 {stopping that idea} cxd4+ {Nb5 was another way of winning the pawn} 6. Rxd4 Rxd4 7. Kxd4 Nb5+ 8. Kc5 Nc7 {Nxa3 is also good} 9. Kd6 Ne6 10. b4 Nxf4 11. Kc7 Nxh3 {and the f pawn will queen long before white can get anywhere near queening on the queenside}) Nd6 3. Rc3 c6 4. b4 Ne4 (4...Nb5 5. Rcd3 Rxd4 6. Rxd4 Rxd4 7. Ra1 Rxf4 {and it is just hopeless for white}) 5. Rcd3 Rg8+ 6. Kf3 Rg3+ 7. Ke2 Rg2+ 8. Kf3 Rf2+ 9. Ke3 Rh2 {and the h pawns are falling and white is still tied up in knots}
  • 2
    Adding a few comments to the already good answer: You are clearly winning and your first priority is to avoid any swindling. Rxe5 would be the default ("trade pieces, not pawns") but improves Whites pawns, and you are lucky that dxe5+ Ke7 doesn't throw the game. Thus, win stepwise: 1. Improve coordination with Nf7. 2. Gang up on his pawns, you have one more piece to attack them. 3. Avoid at all cost the white rook(s) pogoing on your 7th rank. 4. If everything is under control, then push pawns. 5. Even with not much ideas, this will win in the long run. Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 7:40

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