In the attached position, why can't white mate? Is it not possible to go Rxc6 and depending on blacks response go Rxc6.

[FEN "4r1k1/1p3ppp/2b5/5n2/pp6/8/P4PPP/2R1R1K1 w - - 0 1"]

Source: Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess (1966) - Bobby Fischer & Stuart Margulies

  • 16
    What is Black's best move after 1. Rxc6?
    – Cleveland
    Sep 24, 2021 at 0:18
  • 1
    Thank you Cleveland! I have to train to take the opponents view. Sep 24, 2021 at 2:02
  • 2
    You wrote Rxc6 twice, you probably meant something else.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 24, 2021 at 8:26
  • 3
    Even if Black couldn't respond to Rxc6 with ...Rxe1+, Black would still not be forced to take the rook, so checkmate is not forced either.
    – David
    Sep 24, 2021 at 8:31
  • "response go Rxc6" is probably a typo for "response to Rxc6". Sep 26, 2021 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


If White goes for 1. Rxc6??, Black has 1...Rxe1#

  • 1
    Thank you Allure! Have to pay attention to the whole board. Sep 24, 2021 at 2:01
  • 1
    Paying attention to the whole board is great. More important is king safety. I suggest do a safety check for each move. Sep 25, 2021 at 13:20

Based of your question it appears that you have correctly assessed and identified the critical piece holding blacks position together. The Bishop on c6.

Rxc6 - Removing the Defender.

[FEN "4r1k1/1p3ppp/2b5/5n2/pp6/8/P4PPP/2R1R1K1 w - - 0 1"]

1. Rxc6 Rxe1#

Results in a completely lost position which allows black to mate in one.

Rxe8 - "Correct" Variation.

[FEN "4r1k1/1p3ppp/2b5/5n2/pp6/8/P4PPP/2R1R1K1 w - - 0 1"]

1. Rxe8 Bxe8 Rb1 b5 Rxb4

Doesn't significantly change much. Black has a promotion threat on the a/b file. The rook is unable to defend because any attempts to dislodge the bishop will result in either loss of material or promotion. In addition to this the knight has the ability to apply pressure on whites rook.

Engine Evaluations would indicator that white is down approximately 5 pawns (or a rook) of material from the starting position.

  • 3
    I don't understand. Why would you go down the 2. Rb1 route instead of 1. Rxe8 Bxe8 2. Rc8 Kf8 3. Rb8 and start picking off the pawns? What am I missing?
    – terdon
    Sep 24, 2021 at 10:55
  • 3
    @terdon 3. Rb8 b5 . There's no pawns that you can pick off from there and the Rook is awkwardly placed. The a4/b4 pawns can easily push through while the bishop protects b5.
    – David258
    Sep 24, 2021 at 11:25
  • 2
    Sigh. I copied the board to play with it and completely forgot to copy the knight, @DaveMongoose. Nd6 works perfectly indeed.
    – terdon
    Sep 24, 2021 at 12:04
  • 2
    @DaveMongoose 2. Rc8 Nd6 is a terrible move which loses a piece after 3. Rd8
    – Durmus
    Sep 24, 2021 at 13:19
  • 4
    @DaveMongoose 1. Rxe8 Bxe8 2. Rc8 Nd6 is bad for black. Followed by 3. Rd8 and the loss of the knight, which is 'stuck' protecting the bishop and can't be protected.
    – David258
    Sep 24, 2021 at 13:52

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