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Rook Roll Mate Examples
Compiled by ChessCoachClark

Bruce Pandolfini seems to have coined this quaint name for a checkmate process that can actually be done by more than just the Rooks. Not only could the rolling process be done with a Queen and a Rook, it can also be done along diagonals, with Bishops or Queen and Bishop. The Lawnmower Mate (GM Karsten Muller), Staircase Mate (IM Jeremy Silman) or Steamroller Mate (CCC and others) are just a few of its other names. This mating process certainly must be an essential part of your "toolbox."

I usually show the process on a giant chess set with the visually appealing action of literally rolling up the cloth chessboard as the King is pressed back, over and over again, to the edge of the chessboard.

The Rooks are being coordinated in a staggered formation, either making the space for the King get smaller and smaller, or keeping that space the same size (when the defending King gets aggressive). You could compare the staggered moves to climbing stairs, or going up a ladder-- but no baby steps by having both feet on the same level. The Rooks do not occupy the same rank or file.

Two points should be emphasized to a beginner.

First, the SPACE of the King is everywhere it can 'see' until a fence or wall cuts it off. The REACH of the King is how far it can move-- just one square in any direction. The Rooks are working together as a team to keep reducing the SPACE of the King with their walls or fences squeezing it toward the edge or a corner. (Compare these terms with the domain and range of functions in algebra.)

Second, when the opposing King is far away from the Rooks, they do not check the King on their first move. They cut down the space of the King, but without checking. They have to set up the Rook Roll for the easiest mate. Checking will give the other King two choices for the line it could occupy. Their first Rook move should force the King to stay in the smaller SPACE. So, the example given below is simpler because the King is quite close to the Rooks and thus when put in check, it has only one rank to use (although its REACH is three squares) anyway.

The Rook Roll Mate process is a good demonstration of the principle that the checkmate is easier to handle after you force the enemy King to the edge or to the corner of the chessboard. Eight squares are in the reach of the King in the Center, five squares at the edge, but only three squares in any corner.

Here is one typical, full version of the Rook Roll Mate, with Black to move:

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The Black King cannot move into the first rank. The REACH of this King is five squares now (g2, g3, f3, e3 and e2) and its SPACE is the area within d2, d8, h2 and h8.

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1. ... Kf2.
The Black King had no choice but to shift over or retreat to the third rank. The reach and space of the Black King have not changed.

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2. Ra2+.
White begins the process of rolling back the Black King. This check makes its reach only three squares. If White plays correctly, the reach stays at three squares for each check all the way to the edge or corner.

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2. ... Ke3
The Black King had to retreat to the next rank.

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3. Rc3+
The other Rook is brought up to push the Black King back. Note that the White King has no role in this checkmate process.

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3. ... Kd4
The Black King gets aggressive, retreating along a diagonal, thus getting close enough to the lead Rook to attack it.

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4. Rh3
The leading White Rook shows its power! It keeps the (rank-wise) space the same without retreating at all. The White King is so close to the action that 4. Kb2 or 4. Kc3 would be better. Also, 4. Raa3 is more effective than 4. Rh3-- and shows the idea of mutual protection, but I chose to reinforce the simpler process at this stage because both of these options connect to the Waiting Move tactic. Digressing or putting too much into one lesson may not be helpful to retention. Your mileage will vary with your students. ;-)

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4. ... Kc4
The Black King must retreat or shift over one square.

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5. Ra4+
White forces the King back again.

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5. ... Kb5
The defending King gets aggressive again, with the other White Rook being in the vanguard now.

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6. Rg4
Notice that the vanguard Rook was not brought to the edge, but only to the g-file. This offset establishes the staggered formation crucial to the mating process. Again, the leading Rook shows its power by keeping the space the same for the King and with no retreat being necessary at all. Again, 6. Rhh4 is a viable option, but with the same caveats mentioned at move 4 for White.

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6. ... Kc5
The Black King must retreat.

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7. Rh5+

White keeps switching which Rook is in the vanguard, rolling the King back each time. Keep the Rooks out of the way for each other by keeping the stair-step, ladder or staggered formation. The name Lawnmower Mate seems obvious now, as the gopher can't hide in the short grass. A little bit of imagination lets the name Steamroller Mate apply to this process as well-- I've seen two steamrollers working together to pave my street and finishing a parking lot at a big box store. Looking at the pattern of your climbing feet makes the names Ladder Mate, Stairsteps Mate and Staircase Mate suitable. Chess literature uses all of these names and others.

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7. ... Kd6
The Black King must retreat.

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8. Rg6+
The other Rook becomes the vanguard Rook.

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8. ... Kd7
The Black King must retreat.

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9. Rh7+
The other Rook becomes the vanguard Rook.

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9. ... Kd8
The Black King must retreat.

The enemy King has been forced to the edge (sometimes to a corner) of the board, where it is easier to make checkmate. Seeing the pattern of earlier moves, even a beginner should be able to see how to checkmate on the next move.

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Here is the Rook Roll Mate completed. Essentially, the entire process is a King Hunt or King Chase that has checkmate as its conclusion. No one, not even the World Chess Champion, can defend against this process if you play it properly, avoiding stale-mate. Rewards come to those who are methodical and patient.

Time for an obvious admission now. I necessarily admit that I have just shown the mind-numbing process for this mate, according to better players. Most definitely, no computer analysis engine would use it. IM Jeremy Silman and others do use it for beginners, however, so I unabashedly do so as well.

Go look on Amazon for SILMAN'S COMPLETE ENDGAME COURSE and you can read several reviewers who criticize IM Silman harshly for showing this easy method. However, I maintain just as strongly that is good for beginners to have fun whenever they can have it while learning chess. This easy approach, then, is not only simple, but fun and well-remembered to boot.

In fact, I've discovered that an even higher-titled author has exclusively shown the easy method of the Rook Roll Mate. To wit, CHESS ENDGAMES FOR KIDS, pp. 14-15, Endgame Lesson 2: Mate with Two Rooks has been written by GM Karsten Muller. He calls it a Lawnmower Mate as well. Not only a Grandmaster, but also a famous chess author in his own right.

So, back off it, haters!

It's one thing to wax esoteric and theoretical. It's another thing to deal with the practical realities of learning-- and retaining-- information. Knowledge only comes from understanding, retention and application. If the children can't do it, then they haven't learned it. Being a drill sergeant for KIDS will not work as often as some teachers want to think it will. I prefer to treat them as CHILDREN who have real needs and are real people.

So, just as I teach both methods in my classes, is only fair that I describe the fast way to get a Rook Roll Mate in this game collection. The big idea is to initially make a dramatic drop in the space of the King. I mean you really cut it down to nearly nothing right out of the starting gate. You take away a lot at jump street, even making an L-Square or double-fence reduction when one of the Rooks is appropriately placed. In other words, the easy method makes stripes, the fast method makes frames, cutting down on both the files and the ranks available to the targeted King.

You have an abbreviated version of the process, then. It is far faster and more efficient, but harder for many beginners to see. Furthermore, it can be done by pushing the King away from your Rooks or pulling the King toward them as you put the cramps or clamps on it. Any chess analysis engine may generate the mate in five or six moves then. For example, from the starting diagram shown above, 2. Ra3 or 2. Rc3 would effect the fast method.

All of the games in this collection use the fast version of the Rook Roll Mate's process. Only the fast approach makes sense when a player has a Rook and Queen or two Queens. In fact, those two cases deserve even faster methods that utilize the enhanced lines of power from the Queen.

Yes, the fast process is more efficient, more elegant and more formal or rigorous, but the easy process is so cutesy and logical that it should be shown at least once. (It may keep a flustered or distracted young tournament player away from a draw, also!)

ChessCoachClark (CCC) originated this game collection and he updates it on occasion. This project is a work in progress, culling games from various sources, including several chess training books and personal research. The games are ordered by date (oldest first), not by importance.

Be well.
Be safe.

Quick Rook Roll in continuation
P A Merian vs J Mason, 1870 
(C51) Evans Gambit, 43 moves, 1-0

Coordinated Rook and Queen in the vertical form/orientation
E Schallopp vs Gossip, 1890 
(C29) Vienna Gambit, 19 moves, 1-0

Mini-Rook Roll Mate in continuation
J S Morrison vs Euwe, 1922 
(A48) King's Indian, 36 moves, 1-0

Beautiful Rook Roll Mate with Queen and Rook
Tal vs I Zilber, 1949 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 33 moves, 1-0

Game ends with Absolute Pin and Rook Roll threat
Szabo vs A Dueckstein, 1957 
(A97) Dutch, Ilyin-Genevsky, 35 moves, 1-0

Quick Rook Roll in the continuation (Rh3#)
J Klein vs B Marcussi, 1963 
(B94) Sicilian, Najdorf, 26 moves, 1-0

Quick Rook Roll
Sahovic vs Korchnoi, 1979 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 46 moves, 0-1

Continuation 28. ... Kf8 29. Qxg8# Rook Roll Mate with Queen
G Mahia vs Quinteros, 1980 
(B97) Sicilian, Najdorf, 28 moves, 1-0

Quick version of the Vertical Rook Roll Mate; tactics, also
Stanishevsky vs Nikonov, 1981 
(B30) Sicilian, 33 moves, 1-0

Quick Rook Roll in continuation
Nunn vs C Pritchett, 1986 
(B89) Sicilian, 27 moves, 1-0

Continuation: 47. ... Re8 48. Rxe8#
Bologan vs Gipslis, 1993 
(B09) Pirc, Austrian Attack, 47 moves, 1-0

Rook takes zig-zag path to h6#. Can only delay Rook Roll Mate.
H Prokopp vs H Scholz, 1996 
(B33) Sicilian, 26 moves, 0-1

Gives up Queen and Knight for Rook Roll Mate at end
Bologan vs E van Haastert, 2005 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 42 moves, 1-0

Queen sacrifice allows quick Rook Roll in continuation
S Williams vs Hebden, 2006 
(E77) King's Indian, 39 moves, 1-0

Continuation is a simplified, vertical Rook Roll Mate
S Franklin vs R Norinkeviciute, 2007 
(A00) Uncommon Opening, 43 moves, 1-0

Quick Rook Roll sets up Mate after two futile blocks
J Carstensen vs Shkelqim Cela, 2008 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 38 moves, 0-1

Absolute Skewer leads to Queen Sacrifice then Rook Roll Mate
E Guo vs S Madhurima, 2011 
(C01) French, Exchange, 40 moves, 1-0

One continuation: 42. Rxg3 Ra1+ 43. Rd1 Rxd1+ 44. Be1 Rdxe1#
Aagaard vs A Ismagambetov, 2012 
(C45) Scotch Game, 41 moves, 0-1

Quick Rook Roll sets up Mate after two futile blocks
Wang Hao vs R Gerber, 2016 
(B76) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 24 moves, 1-0

Rook Roll Mate in a simple form
G Barrenechea Bahamonde vs D Kollars, 2018 
(C22) Center Game, 44 moves, 0-1

Mate pending with Queen support
E Gulden vs A Macovei, 2018 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 31 moves, 1-0

21 games

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