A winning chess strategy nearly always asks you to be courageous at some point in the game.
There are rare games you win early because of a blunder by your opponent. However, these early blunders become much rarer as you improve your playing strength.
One essential ingredient in a winning chess strategy is your willingness to play chess sacrifices.
Even if you prefer openings and positions of a positional nature, there comes a time when you must use chess tactics to win a game.
Fortunately, you can learn how to welcome and navigate the chaos of sacrifices. This will add another dimension to your winning chess strategy.
Take a look at the following game where IM Alina Kashlinskaya will show you what you need to know and how far you must calculate before playing a sacrifice.
A Winning Chess Strategy Includes Dynamic and Positional Sacrifices
There are two categories of chess sacrifices:
- Dynamic sacrifices and
- Positional sacrifices.
Your winning chess strategy can have either type of sacrifice or can include both.
A positional sacrifice can put your opponent under enough pressure for him to make a wrong move. This is when you must be ready to seize the moment and finish him off with a dynamic sacrifice.
Two Important Reasons to Play a Dynamic Sacrifice
There are certain moments in the game when you will play a sacrifice as part of a mating attack or to win an overwhelming amount of material.
Still, there are many other excellent reasons for you to include dynamic sacrifices in your winning chess strategy.
Two important reasons are if they provide good squares for your opponent and put your opponent under pressure.
Constantly having to defend puts a lot more strain on your opponent. You might not have a winning attack, but if you can place your pieces on good squares, this will add to the pressure.
Remember to make putting your opponent under pressure a vital part of your winning chess strategy.
These two reasons were good enough to help Veselin Topalov defeat an opponent rated over 2600. Think how effective they will be against your opponents.
Topalov played an exchange sacrifice on move 15 with …Rxe3, but it wasn’t until move 41 that he obtained a decisive advantage.
Nikolic, Pedrag (2659)-Topalov, Veselin (2702), Amber-RAPID 2000, 0-1
A Sacrifice Is Not Always Aimed at the King
Sometimes you can sacrifice material to obtain a dominating position. This can be achieved either by getting the bishop pair or creating a weak color complex in your opponent’s position.
Another component of your winning chess strategy is calculation. Sacrifices will always require some calculation.
You might not calculate all the way to the end of the game, but you must at least be able to calculate until you have compensation.
This could be good piece activity for you while cramping his position or weakening the squares in front of the castled king. Sometimes it’s simply reaching a position you feel is better for you.
Pawn sacrifices are often made to open lines against the enemy king, either with the king in the center or against the castled king.
Attacks against the castled king usually start with a pawn sacrifice but are often finished with a piece sacrifice.
Positional Sacrifices in Your Winning Chess Strategy
Always be on the lookout for tactics in your game. Focusing only on positional concepts will cause you to miss opportunities to win.
One weakness is usually not enough for you to win a game. You must strive to create at least two weaknesses for your opponent to defend.
Playing across all sixty-four squares will stretch his defenses to breaking point!
Don’t be afraid to shift your focus from one side of the board to the other.
Patience Is Important In a Winning Chess Strategy
Do not rush to sacrifice pieces. Instead, take some time to bring them to their optimal positions.
This does not mean they must all be clustered together on one side of the board.
When you have the bishop pair and excellent control of the center, you have enough of a positional advantage to begin your attack.
Now is the time to target your opponent’s king and weaken his position!
In positional games, pawn sacrifices can be played to create long-term and static weaknesses in your opponent’s position. Weak squares your pieces can occupy, or these weak pawn structures might inhibit his development.
Inflicting isolated or doubled-pawns on an opponent can be part of your winning chess strategy for the endgame.
Take a look at how Sebastien Maze slowly suffocated his opponent in the next game. Be sure to make a note of where black’s dark-squared bishop and rook on h8 found themselves at the end of the game.
Maze, Sebastien (2619) – Geenen, Marc (2266), Top 12 FRA-ch, 2017, 1-0
Final Thoughts on A Winning Chess Strategy
Remind yourself you do not have to calculate all the way to the end of the game before you play a sacrifice.
One of the most valuable skills you can develop as a chess player is good intuition. If your intuition tells you that your opponent will have a difficult position to play, this is enough reason to play a sacrifice.
When you evaluate the position at the end of your calculations, see if you can find a good move for your opponent. When you can’t find a good move for him in the position, it’s most likely your sacrifice is worth playing.
Playing sacrifices means playing courageously, but it’s gratifying. The deeper your understanding of what makes a successful sacrifice, the easier it is to include them in your winning chess strategy.
Act now! For a limited time, Get 50% Off! Navigating Sacrifices and Chaos will teach you how to be comfortable with the chaos that arises with sacrifices. Use them to pressure your opponent and make him uncomfortable while keeping your composure on the chessboard. IM Alina Kashlinskaya will help you learn what makes a sacrifice successful and how to include them in your games. You can get all the essential knowledge you need for Only $19!