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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.

Contents

FormsEdit

Compensation includes:

  • 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 open to future attack, either due to a loss of pawn cover or being trapped in the centre 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. Even if one side has a material advantage of one, or two pawns or even the exchange, since the bishops control different squares . In the middlegame, however, the presence of opposite-colored bishops imbalances, since each bishop attacks squares that cannot be covered by the other. 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

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
Spassky vs. Fischer, 1960
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Position after 5.Ne5

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

Spassky vs. Fischer, 1960
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Analysis position after 13.Nc3

The Bishop PairEdit

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

Berthelot versus FlearEdit

Berthelot vs. Flear, 1988
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Indeed, 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 centre, Black has a pawn and the bishop pair for the exchange.

Balashov versus QuinterosEdit

Balashov versus Quinteros, 1976
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White has an extra exchange, black on the other hand is compensated by two active bishops. Position after 21...Bh6+

Bishops Of Opposite ColorsEdit

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

Example position
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White's anchored knight in the centre and in the presence of opposite-colored bishops, yield white compensation for the minus exchange. Black is better but black's bishop can't challenge white's centralized knight away from the strong defensive outpost.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Bibliography

  • Fine, Reuben; Benko, Pal (2003), Basic Chess Endings (1941) (2nd ed.), McKay, ISBN 0-8129-3493-8
  • Fischer, Bobby (2008), My 60 Memorable Games (1969), Batsford, ISBN 978-1-906388-30-0
  • Griffiths, Peter (1992), Exploring the Endgame, American Chess Promotions, ISBN 0-939298-83-X