Monday, 2 April 2012

Balancing Material

I never really noticed 'material imbalances' when I was starting out in chess. Having been burnt early on by making a the 'beginners' exchange of Nxf7 Rxf7 Bxf7+ Kxf7 and then getting crushed, I tried to only exchange like for like. Probably Jermey Silman's "Reassess your Chess" was the first time I saw the topic covered in print, but by then it was probably too late to incorporate it into my game.
One player who seems to handle such 'imbalanced' positions well is Gawain Jones. I've seen him do it a couple of times with my own eyes, and in the final round of the 2012 European Championship he decided that giving up a piece for 3 pawns was the right strategy. Of course this is a no-brainer in the ending, but in this case the game was still in the opening stages, where such sacrifices are frowned upon. However an exchange of queens made his task a little easier, and eventually the pawns triumphed.

Ernst,Sipke - Jones,Gawain [A83]
European Championship Plovdiv, 2012

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