Grandmaster Level Evaluation of Positions
Today, we are going to cover a topic which is very important for practically every chess player: “How do you evaluate a position?”
Many chess players calculate countless of variations during the game in order to find out what to do. They often even don’t realize that there is nothing to calculate plenty of positions. If you want to find a good plan, it is always a good idea to start with a thorough evaluation of the position in front of you. Due to the fact that chess is a complex game, there are many factors which have an impact on the evaluation of positions. Mainly, however, these factors can be divided into static factors (those which are less likely to change during a long period of time) and dynamic factors (those which may change quickly).
In today’s video, GM Misa Pap talks about an often underestimated static factor – the importance of pawn structures. Pawn structures are an essential factor for the evaluation of positions and often decide which player has the better chances. As GM Papa points out, the importance of pawn structures increases if you coming closer to the endgame. In his latest video, he presents various instructive examples on this aspect. Let’s have a look:
Spielmann – Rubinstein (Petersburg 1909)
In our first example (see the diagram on the right) we take a look at a famous game between Spielmann and Rubinstein, a rook endgame with equal material. Every side has a rook and four pawns. However, it is important to mention that White has four pawn islands (all his pawns are isolated) and Black has only two pawn islands. Moreover, Black has the much more active rook and his king is closer to the centre.
Black has to be better. It is instructive to see that Rubinstein followed all the endgame rules by Capablanca. First of all, he puts his rook on an active square. Secondly, he transfers his king to the centre and thus activates all his pieces. Thirdl, he follows the rule “Do not hurry.” White’s weaknesses are static and Black does not need to try to win the game in 10 moves. Instead, Rubinstein thinks in schemes. He imagines where his pieces would be placed best. After he is sure where his pieces belong, he tries to achieve this ideal setup step by step. Let’s see what all this means in practice.
The game continued 1…Ra8! (attacking the a-pawn) 2.Rc3 Ra4 3.Rd3 (Black managed to put his rook on an active square and forced White’s rook to defend passively. Now, he starts to centralize his king – 3…Ke7 4.Kg3 Ke6 5.Kf3 Kd5 (see the diagram on the left).
White played 6.Ke2. Now, it is important not to take the pawn as White would have an outside passed pawn on the a-file. The good news for Abika Rubinstein is that he is in no hurry at all. He played 6…g5! (fixing the weakness on h3) 7.Rb3 f6! (not allowing White to exchange his d-pawn for Black’s g-pawn). Now, Rubinstein starts to bring his pieces to even better squares. 8.Ke3 Kc4 9.Rd3 d5 10.Kd2 Ra8 11.Kc2 Ra7 12.Kd2 Re7 (see the diagram on the right).
Rubinstein managed to improve his pieces. White is in zugzwang. In the next move, Black can grab White’s d-pawn. Afterwards, there is still a lot of work to do and it requires strong technique to convert the advantage into a full point. You can watch how Rubinstein did this in the video.
Moreover, there are a lot more instructive examples in the video. If you to see, for instance, how Kramnik wins this position (see the diagram on the left) against Vitiugov with great technique, you should watch the whole video.
Do you want to learn a lot more about pawn structures and evaluating positions? Click here in order to get the full course “Grandmaster Level Evaluation of Positions” by GM Misa Pap.