Chess Puzzle of the Week (217)

I was watching some of the play in our Surrey Centenary Trophy match last Tuesday, which featured several interesting endings.

Endings with Rook and Pawn against Rook are particularly important to know well, so I was keen to follow Josh’s game, which reached this situation.

He’d correctly used his rook to cut off the enemy king and would have been able to reach the Lucena Position (you do know this, don’t you?) had his opponent not offered a rook trade. Josh had correctly calculated that this would be a winning KP v K position, so traded rooks and soon won the game.

Here’s a position from a game played last week at Hastings.

White was the young Irish IM Conor Murphy, who is now playing on Board 1 for Richmond in the London League. The eventual tournament winner, Lithuanian GM Sarunas Sulskis had the black pieces.

At present Black has RPP v R, but won’t be able to hold onto both pawns.

Conor played 75. Ra4 here. I have two questions for you.

  1. Was this his best move?
  2. How should Black reply to Ra4?

Do let me know your answers to these important questions.