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Positional Sacrifice

User Rating: / 2
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011

by Natalia Pogonina for her Tuesday column

A positional sacrifice implies giving away material for long-term positional advantages. Such exchange operations dont lead to a straightforward win of the game or material. While any piece can be positionally sacrificed, the most common victims are pawns and exchanges (i.e. rooks). There are all sorts of advantages one can gain by performing a positional sacrifice: control over key squares/files/ranks, rapid development, spoiling the placement of the opponents pieces and his pawn structure and so on.

As you might be guessing, positional sacrifices are risky. If the advantages gained dont compensate for the invested material, your plan will fail. Therefore, before sacrificing you have to:

1.      Carefully evaluate the position, including: decide whether the sacrifice is a must-play one, or you have other options; how significant are the benefits? ; what is your plan after the sacrifice?; calculate variations. The more experience and positional understanding you have, the quicker this procedure can be performed. Some sacrifices can be made with your hand, i.e. in blitz mode. Nonetheless, dont be in a rush to play such a flashy move.

2.      Check your psychological state. Any positional sacrifice involves taking risks, and you must make sure you are not afraid of that. If you dont feel confident enough, it is better to avoid sacrificing. Otherwise even a correct sacrifice may lead you to a loss.

Also, you must be prepared for the possible changes in the course of the game. For example, if previously the position was quiet, after the sacrifice things can become complicated, and you will have to play very precisely and consistently, without making a single mistake. However, in some positions the pattern of the game remains the same even though a sacrifice has been made.

Today I will share with you one more game from the European Team Chess Championship11. Two positional sacrifices took place there. In the first place a pawn was offered for a few positional pluses: space advantage, bad bishop on c8, blocked pawn on d7 and some weak dark squares. Then an exchange was given up for the opportunity of placing the knight on d6, thus cutting Blacks position into two virtually unconnected parts. In both cases the sacrifices were justified, as the advantages gained were substantial enough.


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1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 09:57 30 2012 .
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 December 2011 )
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