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Exchange Sacrifice
22 Oct, 2006 Exchange sacrifice is, along with pawn sacrifice, one of the most common positional sacrifices. There are many classical examples, Petrosian and Simagin were using this motif quite often, but I want to start this topic with the game that had huge impact on my thinking process. Garry Kasparov - Alexey Shirov Horgen, 1994 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 e5 8.Bg5 a6 9.Na3 b5 10.Nd5 Be7 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.c3 Bb7 13.Nc2 Nb8 14.a4 bxa4 15.Rxa4 Nd7 16.Rb4 Nc5

17. Rxb7! I remember I thought this was print error in the newspaper. Exchange sacrifice will cause serious transformation. Two of the blacks most active pieces, Bb7 and Nc5, will be neutralized. Darksquared bishop is staying out of game and white knights are dominating the board. White will have long-term positional advantage. Eu lembro que eu achava que isso era erro de impresso no jornal. Sacrifcio troca far com que a transformao sria. Duas das peas mais ativos do negras, Bb7 e Nc5, sero neutralizados. Dark-squared bispo ficar fora de jogo e cavaleiros brancos esto dominando a bordo. Branco ter a longo prazo vantagem posicional. 11.Ng5! was first played by Karpov in his 1978 world title match with Korchnoi.

I like John Nunns comment to 17.Rxb7!! in his great instructional book Understanding Chess Move By Move: <An extraordinary idea. White gives up a whole exchange in order to obtain a stranglehold on the light squares. It is worth taking some time to look at the play so far, so as to understand the justification for this remarkable sacrifice. Judged by the classic criteria for good opening play, Whites strategy has been about as far from the textbook as it is possible to imagine: Castle as quickly as you can: here Whites king is still in the centre, and indeed he still requires two moves to castle. Dont move the same piece twice in the opening: White has moved his knight a total of seven times. Develop your rooks to the central files: White has developed his queens rook like a beginner, to a4 and b4, and to cap this manoeuvre off he has given it up for a bishop! In fact, if you had gone down to your local chess club and seen someone playing like this with White, then you would probably have laughed. However, White is one of the greatest players (some would say *the* greatest) of all time, so presumably there must be some reason behind his play. Kasparovs logic is based on two closely related factors: the light squares and the d5-square. Blacks opening involves establishing his central pawns on dark squares: this inevitably results in a weakening of the light squares. In cases such as this, where one players pawns are fixed on squares of one colour, it is important for that player to retain some control over the squares of the opposite colour. In some cases, this can be achieved using pawns; for example, if Black had a pawn on c6 then he would control d5 and the fact that his central pawns were on dark squares would be irrelevant. Where, as here, there are no pawns to do the job, then it must be done by pieces. The key piece is very often the bishop that controls the squares of the opposite colour to the pawns. While this bishop remains on the board, the possibility of fighting for the squares not controlled by the pawns exists. If this bishop is missing, then the player can only fall back on his knights, but unless these are already well-posted, it can take time to manoeuvre them into effective positions. How do these general considerations apply to the game under discussion? The d6-e5 pawn-chain leaves Blacks light squares generally weak, but the d5 outpost has particular significance. A knight established there will control several squares in Blacks position and exert a powerful influence on the game. We have already seen in the above notes how many lines revolve around the battle for d5. Thus the answer to the apparent paradox represented by Kasparovs play is that he recognized the critical nature of the struggle for d5, and was prepared to assign the highest priority to it even to the extent of sacrificing the exchange.> Oct-19-05 acirce: ..continued.. <Now more pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. White has not yet castled because Blacks plan of fighting for d5 demanded immediate attention; there was simply no time for quiet development by, for example, Be2 and 0-0. A further point is that White would really like to develop his f1bishop to c4, where it controls d5, and so Kasparov is prepared to wait until he has played a4 before developing this bishop, so that it has a chance to occupy its optimum square without a loss of time. The second

point, about the odd development of Whites rook, is based on the same idea. White has greater ambitions for his a1-rook than simply to develop it to d1; this rook is to be used to eliminate Blacks important lightsquared bishop. The third point, about Whites repeated knight moves, is again a question of priorities. White may have moved his knights seven times, but now they are ideally placed to control d5 in any case, Black has nothing to boast about as he has moved his own queens knight four times. In other words, Whites moves form a seamless whole; they may appear odd individually, but when examined together they represent an ambitious plan to obtain a complete grip on the light squares. Of course, the importance of controlling d5 in this type of Sicilian pawn-structure is well-known, but before this game I think few grandmasters would have been prepared to give up a whole exchange to cement control of d5. One of the main differences between a strong player and a truly great one is that the latter is able to go beyond what is generally known and accepted to discover new ideas and principles. If successful, these are then incorporated into the general body of chess theory and become more familiar as time passes to such an extent that what appeared extraordinary when played for the first time may elicit only a yawn when played a few years later. Of course, the same thing happens in virtually every area of human endeavour. This game provides an excellent example of a theme I mentioned in the Introduction that much top-class chess is incomprehensible when viewed in terms of the principles formulated in contemporary textbooks. Whereas chess has advanced greatly in the last half-century, much of the instructional material has not kept up with these advances. It is impossible to explain Whites play in this game in terms of the old ideas: rooks belong in the centre, dont move the same piece twice in the opening, and so on. In order to make sense, the game has to be viewed in modern terms: Whites play is founded on the creation of a strategic plan and the single-minded execution of that plan, based on the specific requirements of the position.>

I like John Nunns comment to 17.Rxb7!! in his great instructional book Understanding Chess Move By Move: <An extraordinary idea. White gives up a whole exchange in order to obtain a stranglehold on the light squares. It is worth taking some time to look at the play so far, so as to understand the justification for this remarkable sacrifice. Judged by the classic criteria for good opening play, Whites strategy has been about as far from the textbook as it is possible to imagine: Castle as quickly as you can: here Whites king is still in the centre, and indeed he still requires two moves to castle. Dont move the same piece twice in the opening: White has moved his knight a total of seven times. Develop your rooks to the central files: White has developed his queens rook like a beginner, to a4 and b4, and to cap this manoeuvre off he has given it up for a bishop! In fact, if you had gone down to your local chess club and seen someone playing like this with White, then you would probably have laughed. However, White is one of the greatest players (some would say *the* greatest) of all time, so presumably there must be some

reason behind his play. Kasparovs logic is based on two closely related factors: the light squares and the d5-square. Blacks opening involves establishing his central pawns on dark squares: this inevitably results in a weakening of the light squares. In cases such as this, where one players pawns are fixed on squares of one colour, it is important for that player to retain some control over the squares of the opposite colour. In some cases, this can be achieved using pawns; for example, if Black had a pawn on c6 then he would control d5 and the fact that his central pawns were on dark squares would be irrelevant. Where, as here, there are no pawns to do the job, then it must be done by pieces. The key piece is very often the bishop that controls the squares of the opposite colour to the pawns. While this bishop remains on the board, the possibility of fighting for the squares not controlled by the pawns exists. If this bishop is missing, then the player can only fall back on his knights, but unless these are already well-posted, it can take time to manoeuvre them into effective positions. How do these general considerations apply to the game under discussion? The d6-e5 pawnchain leaves Blacks light squares generally weak, but the d5 outpost has particular significance. A knight established there will control several squares in Blacks position and exert a powerful influence on the game. We have already seen in the above notes how many lines revolve around the battle for d5. Thus the answer to the apparent paradox represented by Kasparovs play is that he recognized the critical nature of the struggle for d5, and was prepared to assign the highest priority to it even to the extent of sacrificing the exchange.> <Now more pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. White has not yet castled because Blacks plan of fighting for d5 demanded immediate attention; there was simply no time for quiet development by, for example, Be2 and 0-0. A further point is that White would really like to develop his f1-bishop to c4, where it controls d5, and so Kasparov is prepared to wait until he has played a4 before developing this bishop, so that it has a chance to occupy its optimum square without a loss of time. The second point, about the odd development of Whites rook, is based on the same idea. White has greater ambitions for his a1-rook than simply to develop it to d1; this rook is to be used to eliminate Blacks important lightsquared bishop. The third point, about Whites repeated knight moves, is again a question of priorities. White may have moved his knights seven times, but now they are ideally placed to control d5 in any case, Black has nothing to boast about as he has moved his own queens knight four times. In other words, Whites moves form a seamless whole; they may appear odd individually, but when examined together they represent an ambitious plan to obtain a complete grip on the light squares. Of course, the importance of controlling d5 in this type of Sicilian pawnstructure is well-known, but before this game I think few grandmasters would have been prepared to give up a whole exchange to cement control of d5. One of the main differences between a strong player and a truly great one is that the latter is able to go beyond what is generally known and accepted to discover new ideas and principles. If successful, these are then incorporated into the general body of chess theory and become more familiar as time passes to such an extent that what appeared extraordinary when played for the first time may elicit only a yawn when played a few years later. Of course, the same thing happens in virtually every area of human endeavour. This game provides an excellent example of a theme I mentioned in the Introduction that much top-class chess is incomprehensible when viewed in terms of the principles formulated in contemporary textbooks. Whereas chess has advanced greatly in the last half-century, much of the instructional material has not kept up with these advances. It is impossible to explain Whites play in this game in terms of the old ideas: rooks belong in the centre, dont move the same piece twice in the opening, and so on. In order to make sense, the game has to be viewed in modern terms: Whites play is founded on the creation of a strategic plan and the single-minded execution of that plan, based on the specific requirements of the position.>