|LCCC's Nathan Holland in Michigan Open action|
Don't think your wood pushing scribe will be leading these lessons. Chess teacher IM Jeremy Silman will be your guide. I just type and push wood.
JS: When we learn to play chess we are told that the Pawns are worth 1 point, the knights and bishops worth 3 points, the rook 5 points, the queen 9 points and the King is priceless because if you lose him the game is over.
These values are fairly accurate, but they color our vision when it comes down to what pieces may really be worth in a given position.
Grandmasters seem to donate rooks (5) for a knight or bishop (3) all the time while us mere mortals would get cold feet and never consider such a move.
If we are going to ignore the dictates of point count then what should we be looking for?
This diagram shows a very common exchange sacrifice.
A Grandmaster playing Black would play 1. .....Rxc3
without hesitation. No calculation needed because
2. bxc3 Nxe4
gives Black a knight, a center pawn and a clear structural advantage due to White's doubled pawns. Sure Black is down 5 to 4 in the point count, but he has plenty of compensation in superior play, initiative, space and a better pawn structure.
In addition, Black's extra knight can be a factor in the game before White's extra rook.
By the way, Igor3000 chimed in with his bit-coin two cents. He says yes -
1. ...... Rxc3
2. bxc3 Nxe4 is best at an advantage for Black of almost a half-pawn (-.49), its not the only move that is suitable.
Don't you love chess? This is exactly why. Sometimes there are only fractions of differences between moves. And your scribe as seen Igor claim any of 5 moves in a position were equal before.
1. ..... Ne5
2. Qe2 Nc4 is second best as the advantage for Black 'shrinks' to (-.47). Big whoop. And
1. ...... Re8
2. Nde2 Ne5 is third best with the advantage to Black collapsing all the way to (-.41).
Not exactly the blunders of the century. But the jist of this lesson is that exchange sacrifices should be considered if you have enough compensation for the point or two lost in material.
We will look at another example next article.