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Winning Exchanges – Knights vs Bishops – IM Valeri Lilov [The Chess World]

Most club players don’t bother too much when it comes to winning exchanges. If an exchange “looks equal” they simply swap the pieces and proceed with the game. Only later they realize that they are now on the losing side of the board.

After the game, they analyze in an attempt to figure out what happened. Those players usually blame the opening, lack of tactical awareness, or the positional blindness as the main reasons of their defeat. If they only knew the real reason WHY they’ve lost that game!

This is particularly true when it comes to winning exchanges between the knights and bishops. After all, these pieces are of roughly equal value. However, you need to know that trading pieces requires quite a bit of precision.

In this Chess World preview, IM Valeri Lilov gives you a good idea of how you can make these evaluations accurately, and how the best players make these decisions.

Grandmasters may spend ten minutes or more evaluating whether to trade pieces or not. They are very well aware that a “bad exchange” may cost them the game. They know that any exchange leads to a permanent change on the board, which cannot be undone. GMs take exchanges very seriously, and so should you.

Exchanges are really easy to make. But, oftentimes, even an “equal looking exchange” isn’t so equal because of the long-term impact it can have on the game. For example, in an open position, the bishop is generally better than the knight, and in closed positions the knight is generally better than the bishop. You wouldn’t want to trade off your good piece for the opponents ineffective poor piece!

IM Lilov uses some games to demonstrate how to evaluate these long-term gains or losses, and talks about the difference between static positions, which are relatively easy to play with developing and straightforward moves, and dynamic positions which are sharper, have tactical possibilities and involve short-term gain as the position is likely to change very soon.

Knights vs Bishops

Knights vs Bishops - When to trade?Let’s take a look at the opening of the first game IM Lilov analyzes in his video. It begins with 1. d4, an opening generally favored by positional players, 1…Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4, a Nimzo-Indian opening. White plays 4. a3 and we reach the first trading decision of the game. You can see the position on the left.

When to trade pieces in chessBlack captures the knight with 3…Bxc3, and White recaptures with 4. bxc3. The resulting position can be seen on the right. Both sides prepare to bring their pieces to the center. On the one hand, White has doubled pawns, but on the other side, he has the bishop pair. Both of these can be considered long-term advantages or disadvantages, so how can we assess things?

It all depends on the prospects of the position – evaluate the imbalances. An imbalance is something that one player has that the other player does not. In this case, the bishop pair and the doubled pawns. Even though it is very early in this game and it can be difficult to predict, it isn’t immediately obvious how Black can take advantage of the double pawns. In fact, after a few more developing moves, White could end up with a pretty solid-looking position.

You’ll have to watch the video to see how this game turned out, and learn more about how to evaluate these exchanges!

Winning Exchanges – When To Trade?

How do strong players decide whether to exchange pieces or not? What do grandmasters know about static and dynamic positions that allow them to come up with a precise winning plan again and again? How do you evaluate critical exchanges the way the Grandmasters do? These are all important questions that IM Lilov answers in his course “Winning Exchanges”. Click here to get instant access with 35% off.

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