On the left is one of my favourite endgame studies, by two famous Georgian composers of the romantic school, Gurgenidze and Kalandadze. It combines several themes - underpromotion,
David Gurgenidze (b. 1953)
switchback, the rambling rook - but in the first place, it is dazzlingly witty.
    If the term 'Rambling Rook' sounds unfamiliar, this could be because I invented it. In Russian it is beshenaya ladya, in Dutch dolle toren, both meaning 'crazy rook.' There is no English term, and I thought a little alliteration would be in its place.
    The whole point of the position in diagram 1 is that the rook on e1 must be stopped from rambling. It is, so to speak, Blacks only moveable limb, and if it were taken, Black would be stalemated, for instance after 1.Rxe1? h1=Q+ 2.Rxh1. As 1.Rxh2 Rxe7 makes no sense, and 1.e8=Q is effectively met by Rxh1, White has to think of something else. This is: 1.e8=N! Now 2.Nd6 and 3.Nb7 mate is threatened. Black seems unable to do anything about this, as Re1 must guard the first rank on account of Ra1 mate. The only remedy is 1...Rg1, threatening Rxg4+ and the rambling rook draws. How can White stop that? (See diagram 2).
    This is the moment for White to have a stroke of genius - if his pawn on g4 could move backwards, he could reach his goal quickly: 2.g4-g3 Rf1 3.Nd6! Rf4+ 4.Kh3 Rh4+ 5.Kg2 and 5.Nb7 mate or Ra1 mate. Pawns can't go backwards, but the manoeuver White now carries out can be seen as a rite whereby this pawn does achieve the power of going backwards. 2.Kh5 Rf1 All Black can do is threaten to check, otherwise Nd6 means mate. 3.g5 Rg1 4.Kh6 Rf1 5.g6 Rg1 6.Kh7 Rf1 7.g7 Rg1 8.Kh8 Rf1 9.g8=Q It is thematic that a promotion to rook would work just as well. 9...Rg1 10.Qg7! Because the point is that the only way in which the Queen is stronger than a pawn here, is that it is a pawn-in-reverse. It can't go faster than a pawn however; after for instance 10.Qg6 Rf1, 11.Qg8 would be forced again. 10...Rf1 11.Kh7 Rg1 12.Qg6 Rf1 13.Kh6 Rg1 14.Qg5 Rf1 15.Kh5 Rg1 16.Qg4 (Two readers, Donald Coward and Maarten de Zeeuw pointed out that the unthematical 16.Qg3 is one move faster: 16...Rf1 17.Kh4 Rd1 (Rf4+ 18.Kh3 Rh4+ 19.Kg2 and 20.Ra1 mate) 18.Nd6 Rd4+ 19.Kh3 Rh4+ 20.Kg2 and 21.Ra1 mate.) 16...Rf1 17.Kh4 Rg1 (see diagram 3) and the miracle has happened: we are back in diagram 2, with the only difference that White can now indeed play g4-g3: 18.Qg3! Rf1 19.Nd6! Rf4+ 20.Kh3 Rh4+ 21.Kg2 and mate next move.

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