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  • How The Pieces Move         Pawns     Knights     Bishops     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    The Rooks can move horizontally or vertically. They are probably the easiest piece to understand.
    They also participate in the castling move along with the King. This is explained in its own section here.
    Back Rank Checkmates         Pawns     Knights     Bishops     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    The most common use of the Rooks is the defending of the back rank from mating threats issued by the other stronger major pieces.
    You can see that without Rooks in the back rank, either side to move can checkmate their opponent.
    White to move puts the Queen on g8 for checkmate.
    Black to move places the Chancellor on d1 for check. The white Queen must block the check, and the Chancellor captures the Queen for checkmate next.
    Back Rank Defence         Pawns     Knights     Bishops     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    With Rooks on the back rank, the position is now defended against the type of checkmates mentioned in the previous example.
    For most of the game, the Rooks will reside on the 1st/8th ranks, serving as the guards. But one should not relax just because you have a Rook in your back rank.
    Checkmating An Insufficiently Defended Back Rank         Pawns     Knights     Bishops     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    In this example, we added some more firepower to each side, and repositioned the Rook on black's back rank.
    That seemingly innocuous nudge of the black Rook allows white to checkmate!
    As before, the white Queen comes down the pike to g8, giving check, and likewise sacrificing herself.
    The black Rook captures the Queen. But now, the white Chancellor is aligned to recapture the Rook, and thereby deliver checkmate.
    We must always verify our strategic ideas (defending the back rank with a Rook) with tactical calculation (evaluating the consequences of specific lines of play).
    A Wide Variety Of Defences         Pawns     Knights     Bishops     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    Most new players try to memorize setups, one after another. There is no need to commit individual positions to rote memory.
    The diagram above shows an involved late middlegame position with a back rank that is defended adequately.
    Clearly, it would not be possible to start memorizing in which positions the back rank mating attack works, and which it does not.
    For this reason, we must distill what is essential and learn what is non-essential as we progress towards better and better play.
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