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Salomon Flohr vs Milan Vidmar
Nottingham (1936), Nottingham ENG, rd 9, Aug-20
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Rubinstein Variation Flohr Line (D62)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-09-04  acirce: In the section about <Common Observation about Endgames with Many Pawns> in the chapter on rook endgames in <Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual> (I use an extra pair of brackets where the text is emphasized in the book), these annotations were highly instructive: <<The rook's activity is the main principle for evaluation and practical play in rook-and-pawn endgames.> It can take various forms: attacking the enemy's pawns, supporting its own passed pawns, cutting the opponent's king off, or pursuing the king. It also happens that the rook must sometimes behave passively, its functions being limited purely to defense. But in these cases <one should relentlessly seek for opportunities to activate the rook, even at cost of pawn sacrifices or deteriorated king's position.> The following classical ending illustrates this principle perfectly.>

After 31..bxc6:

<White has an obvious positional advantage, but as for a win, it is surely a long way off. The outcome of the game depends on the endgame artistry of the players.>


<First of all, to centralize the king. In case of 32.Ra5? Black sacrifices a pawn to activate his rook: 32..c5! 33.Rxa6 c4 with excellent chances for a draw. 32.b4? is also not precise: 32..Ke7 33.Ke2 Kd6 34.Kd3 Rb8!? (34..Kc7) 35.a3 Rb5.>

32..Ke7 33.Kd3 Kd6 34.Ra5!

<Rather than 34.Kd4? in view of 34..Rb8 35.Ra5 c5+! 36.Kd3 Rb6.>

34..Ra8 35.Kd4

<Black must reckon with e3-e4 now.>

35..f5!? 36.b4

<S. Flohr strengthens his control over weak squares on the queenside. Black is faced with a problem: which defensive plan to choose.>


<Too passive: the rook will be forced back to the unenviable role of bodyguard to the a-pawn as early as on the next move. He should have protected the pawn with the king: 36..Kc7! (idea: ..Kb6). Oh yes, the king would have gone away from the center, the white king - in contrast - would have had an open road for invasion, but the rook could enjoy freedom. And, as we have said, the rook's activity in rook-and-pawn endings is paramount! White would very probably have played 37.Kc5 Kb7 38.Kd6 Re8 39.Ra3 (idea: Rc3). Now Black should pave the way to the 2nd rank for his rook.

A) 39..f4? is entirely bad in view of 40.exf4 Re2 41.g4 with f4-f5 to follow. Black cannot fight against the passed f-pawn because another pawn, on f3, is blocking the file from rook attacks.>

Nov-09-04  acirce: continued:

<B) G. Levenfish and V. Smyslov suggest 39..d4!? 40.exd4 Re2 41.Rc3 Rxg2 (41..Rd2 42.Rc4) 42.Rxc6 Rxh2 43.a4 g5 (idea: ..g4; ..Rh6+). However White maintains the advantage by placing the rook behind the g-pawn: 44.Rc7+ Kb6 45.Rg7!, because his own passed pawn is quite dangerous. Such an alternative (with consequences that can hardly be calculated and evaluated over the board) is practically still better than the passive defense with the rook on a8. Moreover, it can be improved: a third way exists, although endgame treatises do not mention it.

C) 39..g5! 40.g3
(After 40.Rc3 f4 41.exf4 gxf4 Black maintains enough counterplay, for example 42.Rxc6 Rd8+ 43.Kc5 d4 44.Re6 d3 45.Re1 Rg8=) 40..g4!
(Again, 40..d4?! 41.exd4 Re2 is dubious here in view of 42.Ra5! (42.Rc3 Rxh2 and the c-pawn is inviolable) 42..h6! 43.a4! (43.Rxf5 Rxa2 44.Rf7+ Kb6 45.Rc7 Rxh2 46.Rxc6+ Kb5) 43..Rb2 44.Rxf5 Rxb4 45.Kc5 Rxa4 46.Rf7+ and Black's position is difficult.) 41.f4 (41.fxg4 fxg4 42.Rc3 Rf8=) 41..Re4 42.Rc3 Rc4 unclear>

37.a3 Ra8

<The b6-square is perhaps even a worse place for the rook than a8.>


<White has achieved the maximum on the queenside and cannot improve his position in this sector anymore (38.a4? Rb8). Therefore he applies a standard method: widening the beachhead! After the exchange of the central pawns the white king attacks the kingside while the rook gets full control over the 5th rank.>

38..fxe4 39.fxe4 dxe4 40.Kxe4 Ra7?

<Black follows the same fatal policy of passively marking time. He still should have done what we have said: to release the rook from its mission (guarding the a-pawn) by bringing the king to b6: 40..Kc7! Now 41.Kf4? gives nothing in view of 41..Rf8+ 42.Kg3 Kb6=. Levenfish and Smyslov give the following line: 41.Re5!? Kb6 42.Re7 a5! 43.Rxh7 axb4 44.axb4 Ra4 45.Rg7 Rxb4+ 46.Kf3 Rh4! 47.h3 Rh6 (this is only a short-term passivity: the rook heads for the 8th rank, to take a position behind the passed pawn) 48.Kg4 c5 49.Kg5 Rh8 50.Rxg6+ Kb5 51.Rg7 c4 (idea: ..Rc8 with counterplay). I think that White should not force events. The restraining method 41.h4!? Kb6 42.g4 (42.Kf4!?) 42..Rf8 43.h5 maintains an indisputable advantage; the question is solely whether it is sufficient for a win.>

41.Kf4 h6

<Otherwise the king passes to h6 with a decisive effect: 41..Ra8 42.Kg5 Ra7 43.Kh6 Re6 44.g4 (idea: h4-h5 ).>

42.h4 Ke6 43.Kg4 Ra8 44.h5! g5

<44..gxh5+ 45.Kxh5 Rg8 46.g4 >


<White has created and fixed a new weakness in Black's camp: the h6-pawn. Prior to returning his king to the center, he takes control over the f4-square. 45.Kf3 is less accurate in view of 45..Rf8+ 46.Ke4 Rf4+.>

45..Ra7 46.Kf3! Ra8 47. Ke4 Ra7 48.Kd4 Kd6 49.Ke4 Ke6 50.Re5+! Kd6

<If 50..Kf6, then 51.Rc5 Rc7 52.Ra5 Ra7 53.Kd4 Ke6 54.Kc5 .>

51.Re8 c5

<The pawn endgame after 51..Re7+ 52.Rxe7 Kxe7 53.Ke5 is absolutely hopeless.>


<Perfect endgame technique. Flohr had calculated the following line: 52..Kc7 53.Rh8 cxb4 54.Rh7+ (54.axb4, of course, also wins) 54..Kb8 55.Rxa7 Kxa7 56.axb4 Kb6 57.Kf5 Kb5 58.Kg6 Kxb4 59.Kxh6 a5 60.h6 . Other king retreats lose the c5-pawn.>

52..Kc6 53.Rc8+ Kb6 54.Rxc5 Rh7

<The rook has changed its parking space, but the new one is as unattractive as the previous.>

55.Re5 Kc6 56.Re6+ Kb5 57.Kf5 Rf7+ 58.Rf6

<Black resigned.>

Apr-26-05  aw1988: Yes, this is a model rook endgame where Flohr completely annihilates Vidmar. Good show indeed.
Feb-12-07  Tomlinsky: Flohr Mop?? A classic rook endgame study. White demonstrates how the more active rook wins against an inferior pawn structure. Vidmar's only chance, possibly, was to break from passivity once the position was closed with help from the king. Instead the rook becomes an observer of the endgame rather than an active participant seeking counter chances. Excellent notes posted by Acirce.
Sep-13-07  sanyas: But where did Black go wrong in the middlegame?
Sep-30-08  norcist: <sanyas>

Good question. Flohr hits Vidmar with the IQP pawn characteristic of many lines of the tarrasch. However, after 13...Bg4 black seems to retain good drawing chances, thought white is better thanks to his superior minor pieces/pawn structure. I don't know what to make of 17 f3!? though. Vidmar doesn't make any attempt to exploit this weakening move with his heavy pieces (at the very least it seems he could force it forward and exchange off his IQP) and afterwards Florh calmly exhanges off his minor pieces until he reaches an endgame where he had the better chances.

Sep-29-12  vinidivici: lolololol at black's rook. Its like a drunken rook. Back and forth guarding the a-pawn (move 34-53) and changing direction to the h-file is so funny. Same old pathetic move.

For 54...Rh7
<The rook has changed its parking space, but the new one is as unattractive as the previous.>


Jan-14-15  SpiritedReposte: Material was even, but white's rook had a bit more activity in that endgame.
Apr-10-15  Mating Net: This is the textbook example of what NOT to do in a Rook ending. Black had to switch the roles of his King and Rook even if it cost him a pawn.
Feb-22-17  Jimmy720: memorize
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Great ending - Acirce's summary is comprehensive. Mueller mentioned 44..Rg8 as Black's last chance to activate his rook; Vidmar's 44..g5 was too passive.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: This should be in every endgame book. Flohr's technique makes it look easy, but it isn't!
Feb-13-19  tomohawk52: I wonder if 31...Rxc6 wouldn't give Black better practical chances. For example: 31...Rxc6 32.Rxd5 Rc2 33.Rd7 Rxa2 34.Rxb7 h5. White's up a clear pawn but at least the R/b2 is active.
Apr-07-19  cunctatorg: A great endgame indeed!!
May-19-22  BentOuttaSmyslov: 45.g3! is a very nice move. For example, if White had played 45.Kf3 then Black may have some chances after 45...Rf8+ 46.Ke4 Rf4+ and 47...Rh4, which would end up quite difficult for White to convert. The text move shuts down any ideas for Black of infiltrating with the rook on the f4-square, and for the rest of the game Black is hopelessly passive.

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