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LCB, Issue #028 --, Dazzle Them with the Exchange Sacrifice
September 01, 2017

Create Imbalances with the Exchange Sacrifice

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #028 -- Dazzle Them with the Exchange Sacrifice

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Last month we focused on the wonderful opportunities thrown up by the Bishop Sacrifice on h7 (or h2 for Black). We saw that double Bishop sacrifices and multiple sacrifices were a common occurrence in these games.

This month we are taking a look at another important theme always on or just beneath the surface in the middlegame. It's the exchange sacrifice. It's one of those things that makes chess such a fascinating pursuit.

It's one of the most colorful examples of how an imbalance pits one advantage against another. The ensuing struggle as the two players try to prove that their edge is more valuable makes exchange sacrifice games among the most absorbing to study and marvel at.

The all-time greatest in the sphere of the exchange sacrifice has to be Tigran Petrosian. His understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and possibilities for both sides in these situations remains to this day unmatched. We're going to look at three of his games to sample the power of the exchange sacrifice.

Create Imbalances with Exchange Sacrifices

Laszlo - Petrosian (Shattering the Pawn Shell)

This Sicilian Opening game exploded into life on the 14th move when Petrosian with the Black pieces played ...Rxc3! From that moment on, the security of the White King was significantly compromised.

Furthermore his Queenside pawns were isolated and weak. Black seemed able to pick them off at will. White carried the exchange through to the end. However Black's 3 Kingside pawns carried the day as their opposite numbers vanished from the board.

See for yourself how Petrosian's assured handling of the middlegame here ensured that the endgame would leave him with a decisive advantage. Laszlo - Petrosian.

Botvinnik - Petrosian (Creating a Dangerous Passer)

In the second game, Botvinnik goes for the Botvinnik System in the English Opening. Petrosian meets it with the King's Indian Defense. As play continues both players pile up their pieces in the d, e and f-files in anticipation of the opening of the center.

In the end as the center is opened White finds himself with two hanging pawns in the center. When they are inevitably liquidated Black has a chance to get an advanced passed pawn by allowing an exchange sacrifice. White accepts the sacrifice and this e-pawn becomes a central player in the endgame.

As the endgame is played out Black's Bishop pair easily overcome the passive Rooks who are tied down by the pawn. Witness Petrosian's masterful display against the great Botvinnik. Botvinnik - Petrosian.

Petrosian - Spassky (Double Exchange Sacrifice)

Spassky arrives in a mood to fight and both players are playing for the full point. Black opts for an Indian strategy, signaling his intention for a lively struggle.

Petrosian doesn't shy away from it either and before long both Kings are feeling the breeze as their defensive shells disperse into the thick of the fight. Petrosian sees the chance to gain the edge through an exchange sacrifice.

He evaluates the position and judges that his minor pieces will be more effective in the terrain formed by the pawn shells. He sees that Black will have difficulty in getting his Queenside pieces into the game. When the second exchange sac comes, Black's Rook is easily overcome by White's three minor pieces. Petrosian - Spassky.

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