The Winning Academy 2: The Art of Trading Heavy Coins
Many club players don’t understand how you can gain an advantage by trading coins like this. After all, the two armies are in pieces, so how could the positional balance be disturbed?
But imagine a situation without failures. There are two bad guys who want to kill each other. Both are armed with a pistol, but only one is wearing a bulletproof vest. Who has an advantage in this fight? Probably the one with the waistcoat. But wait! Imagine the two villains putting their pistols away. Who has the advantage in a fist fight now? We no longer know who is the favorite. The guy without the vest can move around freely, so maybe he will have the upper hand.
The two villains “swapped” (= deleted) the same type of weapon. And yet the odds of winning have changed dramatically. And likewise, chess trading has the potential to change the assessment of position.
In this article, we’ll cover heavy parts trading. Why? I have the impression that in club player games, these exchanges are done even more inconsiderately and intuitively than the exchanges of bishops or knights. Therefore, it makes sense to cover them first.
The first example is simple and obvious:
Carlsen-Giri, World Blitz Championship, Saint Petersburg 2018, White to move:
If you had white people, would you allow the exchange of queens? Well why not? They both seem to be about as active. But hang in there! This is the position of kings, not queens, which should be evaluated when considering the exchange of the strongest parts on board.
The queen is a brilliant striker, but a poor defender. It is far too valuable to effectively defend other coins. It can be compared to a gold bicycle lock. No golden lock would prevent your bike from being stolen. Quite the contrary: thieves would steal your bike much faster – as well as the lock.
Giri’s king is much weaker than Carlsen’s. And Giri’s queen will not be able to defend him. Quite the contrary: the white tempi will gain by attacking the queen will only reinforce her nuptial attack against the king.
The World Champion therefore did not hesitate for long and simply avoided the exchange with 18.Qf4! and mated the Black King a few hits later.
The full game
In addition to checking the safety of the king, you should always take note of what material will remain on the board after the scheduled exchange. Some parts cooperate better than others. I call those who cooperate best âsoul matesâ. There are three most common soulmates: the mad pair, queen + knight, and rook + bishop.
Let’s see how Boris Gelfand forgot about âsoul matesâ in the following example:
Gelfand-Carlsen, Candidates Tournament 2013, White to move:
The Israeli CEO played the apparently active role 25.Dd6 ?!, but after 25â¦ Nf8 26.g3 Rc8 27.Qxc8 Qxc8 it was Black who ended up with the best combination of pieces. Carlsen’s Q + N turned out to be stronger than Q + B and Black won a good game.
Instead of 25.Dd6, 25.Df3! was much stronger. After 25â¦ Qxf3 26.gxf3 White’s pawn structure may appear corrupted, but more importantly, his tower will reach seventh rank, and the R + B combination could become stronger than Black’s R + N. (Most importantly, the Dark Knight cannot easily reach d5.)
The full game
In the next position, Mamedyarov wondered what to trade. Should he trade a pair of turns, both pairs of turns, or no turns at all? What would be your choice?
Mamedyarov-Gelfand, GP FIDE, Baku 2014, White to move:
White has a space advantage. This suggests that he should keep as many pieces as possible on the board. In addition, Black has weakness on d6. Imagine that all the heavy pieces have disappeared from the board. In such a situation, Black would have gained an additional defensive piece in his army: his king. (The d6 pawn can be comfortably defended by the black king, but it is impossible to attack it directly with the white king.)
On the other hand, the black towers are quite active on the only open file. If Mamedyarov is to avoid any exchange, he has to abandon the electronic file altogether, and that would give Gelfand considerable counter play (egâ¦ Nf6-e4 could be strong).
Therefore, White opts for a compromise. He trades a pair of turns to tame Black’s counterplay but keeps the other pair on the board for active chances on both wings.
Let’s look at the position that arose five hits later. The white tower is much more efficient:
Mamedyarov-Gelfand, GP FIDE, Baku 2014, Black to move:
The full game
A single turn on an open case may be unnecessary once all entry boxes are safely covered. Such a tower could be used more effectively as a pawn break aid. This was the case in the following post:
Carlsen-Kramnik, Leuven 2017 (fast), White to move:
White is not going to win the fight for the c file, because Black controls all the important boxes. The only thing that could happen to this file is a turn swap. Carlsen therefore voluntarily abandoned the open file and played 23.Rf1!, keeping the towers on board and preparing f4-f5.
The full game
In the last example, let’s focus on the safety of kings again. In the next position, Black is a raised pawn. But how should he bring the point home?
From Firmian-Salov, New York 1996, Black to move:
Salov played 34â¦ Rd8. After all, what could be more natural than putting the tower on an open file? However, after 35.Td2 Rxd2 36.Bxd2 the white queen remained in her active position, disturbing both the black king and his queen side.
Warning: to kick the enemy queen out of an active position, your queen needs a reinforcement. And when you have two or more heavy pieces, they can help each other. Therefore, Salov should have ignored the open file and should have prepared Qe6-c6 instead. After 34â¦ Kf7! 35.Bd2 Qc6 White has a difficult choice: decentralize his queen or trade him. Either way, Black is the clear winner.
The full game
The Winning Academy (1): Creating Imbalances