Rook vs Rook and Bishop

Do you need to defend with a rook vs rook and bishop?

Discover some defensive strategies now!

You have basic two defensive strategies at your disposal. They're called the Cochrane Defence (I alway remember this as the Cockroach Defense, sorry Mr. Cochrane) and the Second-Rank Defense.

The Cochrane Defence

In the next diagram you're Black and you have to defend the position.

This is an example of the Cochrane Defense.

The Cochrane Defence is based on the fact that White has problems unpinning his bishop.

There are two rules to remember here.

Rule nr.1: Let the attacking king move first.

Rule nr.2: Move your own king in the opposite direction of the attackers king.

With these rules in mind you'll find the move: 1....Re1;

The nature of the position stays the same. You're just waiting. You want to see which side the white king chooses.


Ok, the white king has moved. Now rule number two comes into play. Move your king in the opposite direction. This is easy now...


Now White has to play the rook or the bishop (If White's king returns to e5, so does yours to e8 and White has accomplished nothing).


The bishop is now liberated and you have to be careful.

Attacking the bishop is bad, as this gives the white king the opportunity to advance to the sixth rank and protect the bishop at the same time.

A better idea is to keep your rook on the e-file, as it prevents the white king from joining the attack. So, what to play?


This move isn't easy to find if you're not familiar with its purpose. The idea is to liberate your king from its prison (the edge of the board).

White's rook is attacked now, so he has no way to improve his position.

4. Ra8, Kf7;

Your king is no longer on the edge of the board and there's no immediate danger.

You're safe for now.

The attacker may try some more, because he has nothing to lose.

You'll have to defend until you can invoke the 50-move rule.

The Second-Rank Defence

This is a more passive defence.

Your rook has no possibility to reach an active position. Black would be able to obtain a winning Philidor Position if your rook leaves the second rank.

An example would be: 1.Rc8, Rb2+; 2.Kf1, Rf2+; 3.Ke1, Kd3;

Luckily you can save this position because there's a stalemate motif. Let's look at his stalemate position first, because this is the position that saves your game.

Do you get the idea?

You sacrificed your rook on d2, and the bishop had to capture it.

Now it's a stalemate.

Keep this motif firmly in mind when defending with the second-rank defence.

Back to the starting position again.

Your piece are placed passively, so there aren't a lot of options.

The rook has to alternate between c2 and d2 and you have to keep the king on the second rank as long as possible.

1.Rd2, Rh5;

2.Rc2, Rh2+;


Black's rook is attacked now, so he can't bring the king closer.

3....Rh1+; 4.Ke2,

Black isn't going to get anywhere this way.

4....Rh2+; you've seen this before and you know what to do: 5.Kd1!, attacks the rook again.

Black is trying to win, so he'll better not repete the position again.

5.... Rh3; (another try)

You'll have to move your king away from the last rank, as soon as possible.

6.Ke2, Bc3;

It looks like Black is winning now, but you're still able to hold the position with:


variation 1: 7.....Re3?; see below.

variation 2: 7....Kd3; see below.

variation 3: 7....Rg3; see below.

variation 4: 7....Rh1+; see below.

Variation 1: 7....Re3?;


It seems to threaten Re1 mate, but there still is a defence.


You'll capture the black rook next move, so this is a draw.

Variation 2: 7....Kd3;


It looks like Rh1 can't be stopped, but it can!

8. Rd2+ saves the day. 8....Bxd2;

Variation 3: 7....Rg3;


Playing for a trick.

8.Ke2, Re3+;

Here it is. Kd1 now allows mate by Re1.

9. Kf2 , Kf4;

10.Re2 is drawing.

Variation 4: 7....Rh1+


8.Ke2, Kd4;

This move allows your king to run to safety.

9.Kf3!, Rf1+;

And instead of running, you're able to interpose your rook. It's a good idea to keep your rook close to your king.

10.Rf2, Ra1;

11.Kg4, Ra8;

And now you're free again to choose a defence.

Rg2 returns to a Second-Rank Defence, while Re2 would be aiming for a Cockrane Defence.

Return to Chess Endings from Rook Vs Rook And Bishop

Return to Chess Insights from Rook Vs Rook And Bishop