Monday 9 June 2014

When are two pawns enough for the piece?

I'm currently watching the Karjakin - Carlsen game from the Norway Supertournament, and up until now the moves are just whizzing by. Clearly both sides are following pre game preparation, including a piece sacrifice by Karjakin in a line of the Berlin Defence. (NB Necessary update. Carlsen has returned the piece in the time it took me to type the opening sentences!)
Normally you see a piece sacrificed for three pawns (for two pawns it is normally a blunder), but I suspect opinions differ on the correctness. I've seen conflicting advice on whether it is better to have the extra pawns in the ending, middlegame or opening, and I guess there is no hard and fast rule. More likely it is a case of 'annotation by result' where successful sacrifices are correct and unsuccessful ones  are 'brave' at best. But in the case of the current game it seems it is neither winning or losing, merely 'exact'.

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