One of the most important aspects in chess strategy is to know when to trade pieces and when not to. After all, once a piece is removed from the board, the move can’t be undone. The piece is lost for the rest of the game, and you have to live with the consequences.
It is crucial, then, to learn how to evaluate a position and the results of a piece exchange. There’s more to exchanging chess pieces than simply their material value. For example, a bishop and a knight are roughly valued as equal, but if the position is open, a bishop can dominate a knight!
Likewise, if the position is closed, a bishop isn’t very effective while a knight comes into its own.
When the game is in the early stages, a knight is more valuable because it can jump over other pieces. But as the game progresses, the bishop becomes the more valuable piece because it can cover and control many squares on the board.
A rook is not as valuable in the early stages of the game but can be deadly as the game progresses and lines get opened up. It is important to remember that a piece’s importance fluctuates during the game.
A great piece of advice to help you master chess strategy is to assess the situation from the opposite angle. Instead of only looking at which pieces will be removed, look at the pieces that will be left on the board!
Many good players will give up a good knight versus a poor looking bishop. If after a trade, you are left with an active piece and your opponent’s bishop is stuck behind a pawn chain, it is like you’re a piece up!
In this video, GM Davorin Kuljasevic analyses some games from his own career in order to evaluate the piece exchanges that occur. It’s a highly instructive look into the mind of a grandmaster and what they are thinking when they play their games.
Chess Strategy: Exchanging Chess Pieces
In the video, GM Kuljasevic starts by taking a close look at a game he played against a 2300 Elo rated player. Davorin was driving the White pieces, and his opponent made a number of exchanges that led to his demise. We start with the position on the left.
It is a typical looking Bogo-Indian or Nimzo-Indian sort of position. Black’s usual continuation in this position is …b6 e3 …Bb7 Be2 ..0-0 00.
At that point, Black has two plans. Either break with …c5, …Qe7 and …Rc8 entering a complex middlegame, or alternatively, play …Ne4 followed by …f5 which is a sharp position where Black looks to play on the kingside.
In the game, however, Black played …a5, a rare move. Black wants to open up the A-file. Bb2 …axb4 axb4 …rxa1+ Bxa1, and Black enters mass trading on the A-file.
Let’s jump a number of moves further along, and we see the resulting position on the right.
Here, Black played …Qa8, looking for more piece trades. But GM Kuljasevic explains why this tactic of mass exchanges wasn’t wise for Black, and how White was able to convert the game into a win.
Be sure to watch the video in order to get his expert analysis!
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