Rook vs. Bishop Endgame: 3 Important Tips to Follow

Rook vs. Bishop Endgame: 3 Important Tips to Follow

Today we will talk about another very important, fundamental chess endgame, namely, Rook vs. Bishop. If we compare this ending to a previously analyzed Rook vs. Knight, which is drawn in 70% of the games, this endgame draws only about 60% on the ‘pre-master‘ level.

Therefore, more careful play is necessary for a defending side to achieve a draw.


Many players believe that Rook vs. Bishop endgame is a guaranteed draw. That maybe the case for Grandmaster level players, or the players who know very well how to play minor piece vs. rook endgames. But, let me assure you that there are still chances to lose this ending, and accurate play is necessary to secure a draw.

General rule to remember for this endgame: if you’re a defending side, you should put your king into the opposite color corner to your bishop. That means, if you have a light squared bishop you need to put your king to the dark color corner and vice versa.

With that in mind let me show you what can happen if you don’t play this endgame correctly.

In the position below the black king did not go to the right corner. White can exploit that by combining mate treats and attacking the bishop, which ultimately wins the game.

Let’s take a look at the correct defense technique. In the position below Black went to the right corner making the job of attacker much more difficult. The problem is that there are no more waiting moves available to drive the king away from the bishop, since there are no legal moves on the board, resulting in stalemate.

Let’s take a look at another example when everything is not so clear. White has another trick in the sleeve. He can try to drive the King from the right corner by avoiding stalemate and giving a check. Then Black has another plan, to relocate to another right corner across the board.

Tip: Keeping both the king and bishop in the center of the board is dangerous in these positions, and may lose the game. The best bet is to occupy the right corner.

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Updated 12.16.2023


On the third diagram, after 4.Rg7+ what's wrong with just coming back 4...Kh8? White cannot get the king out of the corner.
Hello Edik and thanks for your comment. This article focuses on pawn-less Rook vs. Bishop endgames, since it is important for under 1000-1800 players to know how to defend against the Rook for a draw or attack with a Rook for a win. As I wrote in the beginning, even though the ideas look simple, these types of endgames are lost in 40% of the times on pre-master level simply because players do not understand the defensive ideas well enough. This article is an attempt to change that. Example 3 shows an importance to keep the king in the corner of opposite color to the bishop to achieve stalemate. Most players will not go to the corner with their King because they're afraid to get checkmated. So, they keep both
Third tip is kinda redundant, since after Rh7+ Kg8 Rg7+ the king can just go back to h8. Also, this kind of endgame is much, much less common than one with pawns. It's not pointless, but I'd rather that you give tips for more relevant endgames.