Compensation for material?

Mostly, situations of material imbalance are fairly clear. Typically extra material wins: even with an otherwise level position, the extra firepower can make an attack pay, or make the opponent's defences overstretched.

  Occasionally, normal material values are overturned. This is most obvious in situations of sacrifice: the mutual possibilities of exchange sacrifices Rh1xNh5 and ...Rc7xNc3 in the Sicilian Dragon are well-known, if not always easy to judge. The sacrifices remove a key defender and open lines against the King.

 

-+t+-+j+
+-TlXxL-
x+-X-+x+
Dx+-S-Ps
-+-Np+-+
+bN-Bp+-
pPpQ-+-+
+k+r+-+r

These attacking possibilities are not all we need to know. A while ago, I showed you one of my classier messes:

A tactic appears for you: you see it and analyse correctly, but wrongly assess the outcome.

-+-+tTj+
+xX-+-+-
x+-X-+-X
+-+pLsXd
p+p+nX-+
+-+-+p+p
-P-+qBp+
+r+-R-+k

Ward,D - Regis,D (1994)

26... Bd4 27. Bxd4 Rxe4 28. Qxe4 Ng3+ 29. Kg1 Nxe4 30. Rxe4 Re8 31. Rbe1 Rxe4 32. Rxe4 Qf7 33. Re6 Kh7 34. Rf6

[34. Kh2! ...when it's all a bit tricky!]

34... Qe8 35. Re6 Qxa4 36. Re7+ Kg6 37. Rxc7 Qd1+ 0-1

  The tactic was obvious enough, what I failed to assess was how good White's pieces would be in the ending. Best was probably to recapture on d4 with the knight on #27.

  What is at issue here are situations which suit particular pieces. Here are some unusual exploitations of material imbalance. Some are exceptions to the usual material rules, but perhaps we should rather think of these as illustrations of some unbroken positional rules - Rooks always need open files.

  Several of these examples I got from Jan Timman's recent and hugely enjoyable games collection Selected Games (cadogan), where I was struck by several games with a material imbalance. I don't know if Jan gets these more often than other GMs or just enjoys them more! Anyhow, I hope you get something out of these examples.


The exchange


Compensation for the exchange: Bronstein,David - Boleslavsky,Isaak (Moskva ch_SU, 1961

t+-+-+j+
+-+-+x+-
-+-X-+x+
Px+p+-Bx
-P-+s+-P
+-+-+-+-
-+-+bLp+
+-+-Rk+-

A simple case: an exchange for extra passed Pawns

35. Bxb5 Bxe1 36. Kxe1 Nxg5 37. hxg5 Kf8 38. Bc6 Ra7 39. Kd2 Ke7 40. Kc3 f6 41. gxf6+ Kxf6 42. Kc4 Ke5 43. Kb5 g5 44. Kb6 Rf7 45. a6 g4 46. a7 Rf8 47. Bd7 Kf4 48. b5 h4 49. Bxg4 Kxg4 50. Kc6 1-0

 


Compensation for the exchange (R v N) Lasker - Janowsky, 1909

-+-+-+j+
+-X-+-+d
x+pX-T-+
+x+pXp+x
-P-S-+-+
+-+r+-Pq
p+-+-+-+
+-+r+-+k

1. Rf1 Qf7

[1... Nxf5 2. Rdf3]

[1... Rxf5 2. Rxf5 Nxf5

[2... Qxf5 3. Qxf5 Nxf5 4. Rf3 Nd4 ? 5. Rf6 Kg7 6. Rxd6 cxd6 7. c7]

3. Rf3]

2. Qg2

  cooperative

[2. Kh2 e.g. 2... Qxd5 3. Qxh5]

2... Rxf5 3. Rxf5 Qxf5 4. Re3

[4. Ra3 e4 5. Rxa6 e3 6. Ra3 e2]

[4. Rd1 Nf3 5. Rf1 e4]

4... Qb1+ 5. Kh2 Qxb4 6. g4 h4

  limiting White's counterplay

7. Kh3 Qc4 8. Qe4 Kg7 9. Kxh4 Qf1 10. a3

[10. Kg5 Qf6+ 11. Kh5 Qh6#]

10... a5 11. Kg3 Qg1+ 12. Kh3 Qf2 13. g5 b4 14. axb4 axb4 15. Kg4 Qg1+

[15... b3]

16. Kh5 Qh2+ 17. Kg4 b3 18. Re1 Qc2 19. Kh5

[19. Qxc2 bxc2 20. Rc1 Kg6 21. Kh4 e4 22. Kg4 e3 winning]

19... Qxe4 20. Rxe4 Nc2 21. Rxe5 b2

[21... dxe5 22. d6 also wins for Black (Tarrasch), but why bother?]

22. Re7+ Kf8 23. Rxc7 b1=Q 24. Rc8+ Ke7 25. Rc7+ Kd8 26. Rd7+ Ke8 27. Rxd6 Nd4 0-1

 


Compensation for the exchange: Ljublinsky Victor (RUS) - Botvinnik M (Moscow) [C77], 1943
25. Qc2

 

-T-T-+j+
+-L-Dx+x
l+x+-+x+
X-X-X-+-
-+p+p+-+
+pN-Bp+-
p+q+-+pP
R-+r+-K-

25... Rd4 26. Ne2?

[26. Bxd4 cxd4 27. Na4 c5 28. Nb2 and with Nd3 White achieves an ideal blockading position.]

26... Bc8 27. Nxd4 cxd4 28. Bf2 c5 29. Rf1 f5

 

-Tl+-+j+
+-L-D-+x
-+-+-+x+
X-X-Xx+-
-+pXp+-+
+p+-+p+-
p+q+-BpP
R-+-+rK-

The Rooks have no open files, while the Bishops give the King a Hard Stare. The d-Pawn is also a constant danger.

30. Bg3 Bd7 31. Rad1 f4 32. Bf2 g5 33. g4?

  perhaps White intends to seal the King's-side, but of course Black does not permit this.

[33. a3 and opening a file on the Queen's-side is essential]

33... fxg3 34. Bxg3 Bh3 35. Rf2 h5 36. Rfd2 h4 37. Bf2 Rf8 38. Rd3 Rf4 39. Kh1 Kh7 40. Rg1 Bd8 41. Qe2 Qf7 42. Qd1 Qh5

 

-+-L-+-+
+-+-+-+j
-+-+-+-+
X-X-X-Xd
-+pXpT-X
+p+r+p+l
p+-+-B-P
+-+q+-Rk

43. Be3 Qxf3+ 44. Qxf3 Rxf3 45. Bxg5 Rxd3 46. Bxd8 Re3 47. Bb6 Rxe4 48. Bxc5 Re2 49. Rd1 Bg4 50. h3 Bxh3 51. b4 Bf5 52. Bd6 d3 53. bxa5 h3 0-1

 


Compensation for the exchange: Selesniev Alexey - Alekhin Alexander (Triberg) [A47], 1921
20. Bd3

 

-T-+-Tj+
+-DsXxL-
l+-X-+xX
X-Xp+-+-
p+p+-+-+
+-+b+nP-
-+qBpP-P
+r+-+rK-

20... Rb4 21. Bxb4 cxb4 22. Nd2 Nc5?!

[22... Rc8]

23. Nb3 Nd7

 

-+-+-Tj+
+-DsXxL-
l+-X-+xX
X-+p+-+-
pXp+-+-+
+n+b+-P-
-+q+pP-P
+r+-+rK-

Black has great play on the dark squares, especially c5, and a protected passed Pawn. Additionally, the White Pawns at a4 and c4 are targets.

24. c5

  A good bid for counterplay: the Rooks need open lines and the Pawn was blocking the Bishop. However, the Black Queen's-side Pawns now become very dangerous.

24... Bxd3 25. exd3 dxc5 26. Rfe1 Ne5 27. Re3

[27. Qxc5!?]

27... Rc8 28. Rc1 Qd7 29. d4 Ng4 30. Re4 c4 31. Nc5 Qf5 32. Qe2

 

-+t+-+j+
+-+-XxL-
-+-+-+xX
X-Np+d+-
pXxPr+s+
+-+-+-P-
-+-+qP-P
+-R-+-K-

32... b3 33. Rxg4 b2 34. Qxb2 Qxg4 35. Rxc4 h5 36. Qc2

 

-+t+-+j+
+-+-XxL-
-+-+-+x+
X-Np+-+x
p+rP-+d+
+-+-+-P-
-+q+-P-P
+-+-+-K-

The return of the exchange has given White some play...

36... h4

  ...but this ushers in a new phase of the game: Alekhin has the initiative, and there is no more dangerous prospect for a player!

[...] 74. Nh3+ Kf1 0-1

 


A complex exchange sacrifice: Portisch L - Timman J (5, Antwerp) [B06], 1992

-T-T-+j+
X-+-+xLx
-+bP-+x+
+pX-P-+-
-+qX-P-+
+-+-+-+-
-Dn+-+pP
+-+-+rK-

An imbalance of the exchange is overlaid with a fascinating battle between passed d-Pawns.

26. Qxc5 d3 27. Nb4!

 

-T-T-+j+
X-+-+xLx
-+bP-+x+
+pQ-P-+-
-N-+-P-+
+-+x+-+-
-D-+-+pP
+-+-+rK-

27... d2 28. Nd3 Qb3 29. Nf2 Qa4 30. g3 a6 31. b6 Rdc8 32. b7! Rxc6 33. Qa7 Rxb7 34. Qxb7 Rc1 35. Qf3 Qd4 36. Kg2 Re1! 37. Nd1 Bf8 38. Qf2 Qd5+ 39. Kg1 Rxf1+ 40. Kxf1 f6 41. exf6 Bxd6 42. Qe3 Kf7 43. Ke2 Bc5! 44. Qc3 Qe4+ 45. Kf1 Qh1+ 46. Ke2 Qxh2+ 47. Kf3 Qh1+ 0-1

 


Queen for Rook and Minor Piece

This is usually a straightforward win. The Queen has problems if it is the only White piece left, and if the defender's position can hold the Queen off.
The Queen in an open position: Euwe, M - Grunfeld,E (Zandvoort) Q vs. RB, 1936

t+-D-Tj+
+l+-LxXx
x+-+-+-+
+xSnPq+-
-+x+-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Br+-K-

18. Nf6+ Bxf6 19. Rxd8 Bxd8

 

t+-L-Tj+
+l+-+xXx
x+-+-+-+
+xS-Pq+-
-+x+-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-B-+-K-

In this open position the Queen is boss and White wins quickly by direct attack.

20. Ng5 Bxg5 21. Bxg5 Rfe8 22. Re1 Re6 23. Re3 Rae8 24. h4 h6 25. Bf6 g6 26. Qf4

 

-+-+t+j+
+l+-+x+-
x+-+tBxX
+xS-P-+-
-+x+-Q-P
+-+-R-+-
pP-+-Pp+
+-+-+-K-

26... Kh7 27. Bg5 f5 28. exf6 0-1

 


Keres,Paul - Fischer,Robert (Yugoslavia ct Rd: 1 [B99] Q v RN, 1959

t+l+j+-T
+-D-LxXx
x+-XxS-+
+x+-+-+-
-+-NpP-+
+-N-+q+-
pPp+b+pP
+-Kr+-+r

12. e5 Bb7 13. exf6 Bxf3

"so I chopped it off!" - RJF

14. Bxf3 Bxf6 15. Bxa8 d5 16. Bxd5 Bxd4 17. Rxd4 exd5 18. Nxd5 Qc5 19. Re1+ Kf8

 

-+-+-J-T
+-+-+xXx
x+-+-+-+
+xDn+-+-
-+-R-P-+
+-+-+-+-
pPp+-+pP
+-K-R-+-

20. c3 h5 21. f5 Rh6 22. f6

  conceding ("throwing away" - RJF) a pawn in order to try and keep Black tied up

22... gxf6 23. Nf4 h4 24. Rd8+ Kg7 25. Ree8 Qg1+ 26. Kd2 Qf2+ 27. Ne2 Rg6 28. g3 f5

 

-+-Rr+-+
+-+-+xJ-
x+-+-+t+
+x+-+x+-
-+-+-+-X
+-P-+-P-
pP-KnD-P
+-+-+-+-

Keres may have been optimistic about this line but Black is sorted out and can plan the win. The Queen in an open position, with play on both wings, is a monster. Black soon obtains a passed Pawn and play against the exposed King.

29. Rg8+ Kf6 30. Rxg6+ fxg6 31. gxh4 Qxh2 32. Rd4 Qh1 33. Kc2 Ke5 34. a4 Qf1 35. Nc1 Qf2+ 36. Kb3 bxa4+ 37. Ka3 Qc2 38. Nd3+ Kf6 39. Nc5 Qc1 40. Rxa4 Qe3 41. Nxa6

 

-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
n+-+-Jx+
+-+-+x+-
r+-+-+-P
K-P-D-+-
-P-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-

41... f4 42. Rd4 Kf5 43. Nb4 Qe7 44. Kb3 Qxh4 45. Nd3 g5 46. c4 Qg3 47. c5 f3 48. Kc4 f2

  "Bzzzt! Game over, thank you for playing..."

49. Nxf2 Qxf2 50. c6 Qxb2 51. Kc5 Qc3+ 52. Kd5 g4 53. Rc4 Qe5# 0-1

 


Timman J - Seirawan Yasser (10, Surakarta) [D29] Q v RB, 1983
19. Rd6

 

-+-T-Tj+
+-+s+x+x
xD-Rx+x+
+xL-Pp+s
-+-+-+-+
+bN-B-+-
pP-+qP-P
R-+-+-K-

19... Bxe3! 20. Rxb6 Bxb6 21. Rd1 Nc5 22. Qf3 Nxb3 23. axb3 Bd4

 

-+-T-Tj+
+-+-+x+x
x+-+x+x+
+x+-Pp+s
-+-L-+-+
+pN-+q+-
-P-+-P-P
+-+r+-K-

24. Rd3 exf5?! 25. Qd1 Bb6 26. Nd5 Rb8

 

-T-+-Tj+
+-+-+x+x
xL-+-+x+
+x+nPx+s
-+-+-+-+
+p+r+-+-
-P-+-P-P
+-+q+-K-

Where can White find a winning plan of campaign?

27. Rh3!

[27. Nxb6 Rxb6 28. Rd6 Rfb8 when neither a mating attack nor a passed Pawn seems likely.]

27... Bd8 28. Rxh5 gxh5 29. Qxh5 Kh8 30. Qxf5 Rg8+ 31. Kf1 Rg7 32. Nf4 Kg8 33. e6 Be7 34. Nh5 Rf8 35. Nxg7 Kxg7

 

-+-+-T-+
+-+-LxJx
x+-+p+-+
+x+-+q+-
-+-+-+-+
+p+-+-+-
-P-+-P-P
+-+-+k+-

White has regained his extra material and should be able to get a win on technique.

36. Qe5+

[36. b4! keeps the Queen's-side Pawns vulnerable]

36... Kg6 37. Kg2 b4 38. f4 f5 39. Kf3 h5 40. Qe2 h4 41. Qxa6 Rd8 42. Qe2

 

-+-T-+-+
+-+-L-+-
-+-+p+j+
+-+-+x+-
-X-+-P-X
+p+-+k+-
-P-+q+-P
+-+-+-+-

(Adjourned: how can the White King effect an entry?)

42... Rd6 43. Qe3 Rd8 44. Ke2 Kf6 45. Qe5+ Kg6 46. Qe3 Kg7 47. Qg1+ Kf6 48. h3 Rf8 49. Kd3 Kxe6 50. Qe3+ Kd7 51. Kd4 Rf6

 

-+-+-+-+
+-+jL-+-
-+-+-T-+
+-+-+x+-
-X-K-P-X
+p+-Q-+p
-P-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-

52. Qg1! Rf8 53. Kd5 Rf6 54. Qg8 Ra6 55. Qb8 Rh6 56. Qb7+ Kd8 57. Ke5 Rf6 58. Qb8+ Kd7 59. Qg8 Rc6 60. Kxf5 Rf6+ 61. Ke5 Rc6 62. Qd5+ Kc7 63. Qa5+ Kb7

 

-+-+-+-+
+j+-L-+-
-+t+-+-+
Q-+-K-+-
-X-+-P-X
+p+-+-+p
-P-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-

Nearly zugzwang!

64. Qa4 Bf8 65. Qb5+ Kc7 66. Qa5+ Rb6 67. Qa7+ Rb7 68. Qa6 Bg7+ 69. Kd5 Rb6 70. Qa7+ Rb7 71. Qa5+ Kb8 72. Qd8+ Ka7 73. Qxh4 Ka6 74. Qd8 Bxb2 75. f5 Bc3 76. f6 Rh7 77. Kc6 1-0


Ivanchuk Vasily - Timman J [04, Hilversum] [E99] Q v RN, 1991

-T-D-Lj+
+-+l+-+t
xN-X-S-+
P-+pX-+-
-+-+p+p+
+-+-X-+-
-Pr+b+q+
+-Rn+-K-

"The game annotated below does not really come within the confines of what is commonly understood to be top chess." -- Timman

33... Nh5

[33... Bh6!]

34. gxh5+!

  else the Knight comes to f4, winning

34... Rg7 35. Nxd7 Rxg2+ 36. Kxg2 Qxd7 37. Nxe3

  White is getting sorted

37... Bh6!?

[37... Qa4 38. Bf3 Qxa5 39. Nf5 with a blockade]

38. Ng4 Bg5 39. Rc7 Qa4 40. R1c4 Qxa5 Time-control 41. Nf2?

[41. Rc8+ Rxc8 42. Rxc8+ Kg7 43. Rc2]

41... Qe1! 42. Rc8+ Rxc8 43. Rxc8+ Kg7 44. Rc2

 

-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-J-
x+-X-+-+
+-+pX-Lp
-+-+p+-+
+-+-+-+-
-Pr+bNk+
+-+-D-+-

now the Knight is passive

44... Bh4?

[44... Be3 45. Bf3 Bd4

[45... a5!]

46. Ng4]

45. Bf3 Kh6 46. Re2 Qc1 47. Ng4+ Kg5 48. Ne3 Kf4 49. h6! Qc8 50. Nf5 Qd8 51. Re3

 

-+-D-+-+
+-+-+-+-
x+-X-+-P
+-+pXn+-
-+-+pJ-L
+-+-Rb+-
-P-+-+k+
+-+-+-+-

51... Bg5?!

  "a groundless winning attempt"

52. h7 Bf6

[52... Qh8 was intended, but 53. Be2 Qxh7 54. Rf3+ Kxe4 55. Bd3+ Kxd5 56. Ne3+]

53. Be2 Bh8 54. Bd3 Qc7 55. Rf3+ Kg5 56. Rg3+ Kf6 57. Rh3 Qc1 58. Nxd6 Qxb2+ 59. Kf1 a5 60. Nc4 Qa1+ 61. Ke2 a4 62. d6 Qd4 63. Rh6+ Kg7 64. Re6 Kxh7 65. Re7+ Kg6 66. d7 Bf6 67. Re6 a3 68. Nd6 Qb6 69. Bc4 a2 70. Bxa2 Qb2+ 71. Kf3 Kh5!!

 

-+-+-+-+
+-+p+-+-
-+-NrL-+
+-+-X-+j
-+-+p+-+
+-+-+k+-
bD-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-

a miracle has occurred

72. Rxf6 Qc3+ 73. Kg2 Qd2+ 74. Rf2 Qxd6 75. Be6=

  ...drawn on move 103!

 


Queen for two Rooks

Where the Rooks are connected and can cooperate in attacking Pawns, they are clearly stronger, and this is usually the case.
Janowski,D - Lasker,Emanuel (Paris) [C48] Q vs. 2 RR (Q with attack), 1909

-+-+tJ-+
+xXs+x+x
x+-X-P-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-P-+
+p+-+q+-
pBp+-KpP
+-+-T-+-

25. Qxb7

[25. Qh5 R1e2+

[25... R8e6 26. f5 R6e4 27. Bc3 R1e3 28. Qh6+ Ke8 29. Qxe3]

[25... R8e4 26. Bc3 R1e3 27. Qxh7 Ke8 28. h4]

[25... R8e3 26. Bc3]

26. Qxe2]

25... R1e2+ 26. Kf3 Rxc2 27. Bd4 a5 28. Qb5 Nc5 29. Qxa5 Nd3

[/\ ...Ne1+ and ...Rxg2]

30. Be3 d5

[/\ ...Ne1+; Qxe1, d4]

31. Bd2 c5 32. Kg3 Nc1

[32... d4 33. f5 (/\ Bh6+ and Qb5) 33... Nc1

[33... Ne5 34. Bh6+ Kg8 35. Qb5 Rd8 36. Qf1 d3 37. Qe1 d2

[37... Nc6 38. Qe3]

38. Bxd2 Rcxd2 39. Qxe5]

34. Bh6+ Kg8 35. Qb5 Rd8 36. Qf1 Nxa2 37. Qf4]

33. Bxc1 1-0

[33. Bxc1 Rxc1 34. Qd2 when the d-pawn falls]

 


Ivanchuk V - Timman J [13, Tilburg] [A29] Q v RR, 1990
37. R1f7+

 

-+-+tR-+
+-Qs+rJx
-+-+-+-T
+p+-+-+d
-+-+-+-+
P-N-X-Pl
-+-+p+-X
+-B-+-+k

"White has no choice but to allow this liquidation, but the two Rooks are much stronger than the Queen."

37... Qxf7 38. Rxf7+ Kxf7

 

-+-+t+-+
+-Qs+j+x
-+-+-+-T
+p+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
P-N-X-Pl
-+-+p+-X
+-B-+-+k

39. Qf4+ Kg6 40. Kxh2 Rh5 41. Qd6+ Nf6 42. Kg1 Rf5 43. Qd3

 

-+-+t+-+
+-+-+-+x
-+-+-Sj+
+p+-+t+-
-+-+-+-+
P-NqX-Pl
-+-+p+-+
+-B-+-K-

43... Kh5?

[43... Ree5!? just fails to mate]

[43... Kg7!]

44. g4+! Kxg4 45. Bxe3 Rg8 46. Kh2 Kh4 47. Bg5+

  (the move Timman had overlooked; the Black King is persistently misplaced)

47... Kxg5 48. Kxh3 Nh5?

"I was getting short of time at this point, and - worse - was still aiming to win."

[48... Rg6!]

49. Nd5 Rg6 50. Qe3+ Nf4+ 51. Nxf4 Rxf4 52. b6 Kf5 53. Qc5+ Ke4 54. Qe7+ Kf5 55. Qxh7 Re4 56. b7 Re3+ 57. Kh4 1-0

 


A curiosity

Agust always says that you should teach chess backwards, like the Russians: learn how to mate with the King and two Queens against bare King, then King and Queen, then King and Rook...

  Agust also says he is glad he learned to mate with Bishop and Knight, and sorry he neglected the endgame of Bishop and Rook against Rook. Here's another that many of us may have neglected...

 


Timman J - Speelman J (10, Linares) [D35] KBB v KN, 1992
66. Bxb5

 

-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-+-B
+b+k+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+jS-
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-

66... Nf5 67. Bf8 Ne3+ 68. Kd4 Ng2 69. Kd3 Nf4+ 70. Kd2 Ng2 71. Bc6+ Kf2 72. Bd6 Nh4 73. Bc5+ Kg3 74. Bb6 Ng2 75. Bd5 Nh4 76. Ke2 Kf4 77. Bb3 Nf5 78. Bc7+ Kg5 79. Be5 Kg4 80. Bc2 Ng3+ 81. Kf2 Nf5 82. Bd1+ Kg5 83. Kf3 Nh4+ 84. Ke4 Nf5 85. Ba4 Ne7 86. Bd7 Ng8 87. Bf4+ Kg6 88. Ke5 Nf6 89. Bb5 Kf7 90. Bc4+ Kg6 91. Ke6 1-0

  Timman in his notes regrets that the theory of this endgame indicates a win can be forced only after more than 50 moves, and so there is little incentive, under the restored 50-move rule, to study this type of endgame. He concludes:

"The chess world is becoming dull and superficial" -- Timman

Chess Quotes

"There are two classes of men; those who are content to yield to circumstances and who play whist; those who aim to control circumstances, and who play chess."
— Mortimer COLLINS.