Compensation (chess)

In chess, compensation is the typically short-term positional advantages a player has in exchange for typically material disadvantage. Short term advantages involve initiative and attack.


FormsEdit

Compensation can include:

  • Better pawn structure.
  • The "two bishops", which refers to having bishops of both colors while your opponent does not. Almost all modern players consider having both bishops as an advantage, although historically there has been great debate as to how much of an advantage they constitute. The two bishops are most likely to show their power in the endgame.
  • Better piece activity and/or better development (common in gambits).
  • Having the enemy king exposed to future attack, either due to a loss of pawn cover or being trapped in the center of the board, is often excellent compensation.
  • Passed pawns are often decisive in the endgame. Connected and/or protected passed pawns are even more deadly.
  • Control over key squares, diagonals, files, or ranks.
  • Bishops of opposite colors. The presence of opposite-colored bishops imbalances, even if one side has a material advantage of one or two pawns or even the exchange, since each bishop attacks squares that cannot be covered by the other. In the endgame, this can help the side down the material with much better prospects for achieving a draw.

ExamplesEdit

Polugaevsky versus EvansEdit

Polugaevsky vs. Evans, 1970
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White to move, draws

A rook on the seventh rank (the opponent's second rank) is usually very powerful, as it threatens the opponent's unadvanced pawns and hems in the enemy king. A rook on the seventh rank is sufficient compensation for a pawn (Fine & Benko 2003:586). In this position from a game between Lev Polugaevsky and Larry Evans,[1] the rook on the seventh rank enables White to draw, despite being a pawn down (Griffiths 1992:102–3).

Spassky versus FischerEdit

Spassky vs. Fischer, 1960
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Position after 5.Ne5
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Position after 13.Nc3

A famous 1960 game between future world champions Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer began with a King's Gambit opening.[2] White sacrifices a pawn on his second move:

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ne5

reaching the position shown (first diagram). Fischer examines an alternate fifth move for Black:

5... h5 6. Bc4 Rh7 7. d4 d6 8. Nd3 f3 9. gxf3 Be7 10. Be3 Bxh4+ 11. Kd2 Bg5 12. f4 Bh6 13. Nc3

reaching the position shown (second diagram), where Fischer explains "White has more than enough compensation for the pawn." (Fischer 2008:123)

The bishop pairEdit

Possession of the bishop pair often yields long-term compensation for sacrificed material.

Berthelot versus FlearEdit

Berthelot vs. Flear, 1988
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Two bishops and a pawn are often sufficient compensation for a rook and knight.

An unbalanced position has arisen straight out of the opening, in which, with an open center, Black has a pawn and the bishop pair for the exchange.

Balashov versus QuinterosEdit

Balashov vs. Quinteros, 1976
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Position after 21...Bh6+. White is up the exchange; Black is compensated by two active bishops.

A relatively interesting middlegame has been reached. White is up the exchange, while Black is compensated by two active bishops forming a crisscross pattern.

Bishops of opposite colorsEdit

Example position
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Opposite-colored bishops and White's knight anchored in the center yield compensation for loss of the exchange. Black is better, but Black's bishop cannot dislodge the white knight from its centralized outpost.

Opposite-colored bishops sometimes give the defender drawing chances in the long run, even if the opponent has a material advantage of one or two pawns or even the exchange.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Lev Polugaevsky vs. Larry Melvyn Evans, Siegen ol (1970)". Chessgames.com.
  2. ^ "Boris Spassky vs. Robert James Fischer, Mar del Plata (1960)". Chessgames.com.

Bibliography