Trades, Sacrifices – How to handle your chess game?

“How to handle our pieces well?” is a question often faced by chess players. Placing them on optimal squares and using them to their full potential is important.

Making exchanges/ trades and sacrifices are a critical part of handling your pieces well. The one who knows how to do these correctly benefits a lot from this understanding!

Let’s take a thorough look into what exactly trades and sacrifices are!

What are trades?

Trading pieces means you exchange your pieces with that of your opponent — which is of similar value. It can be when you

  • Exchange your queen (9 points) with their queen (9 points).
  • Exchange your bishop(3 points) for their knight (3 points).
  • Exchanging pawns

It’s like you give Rs. 20, and buy chocolate that’s worth Rs.20 in a supermarket. A fair trade!

Trading pieces is one of the most fundamental elements of chess. They happen in every game and without them, the game can’t really progress. Since they are inevitable, you need to have a good understanding of how to make these exchanges correctly.

Good Trades vs Bad Trades

Exchanges can be good or bad depending on the positional value of those pieces.

For example, if you capture your opponent’s good bishop that was controlling an important diagonal with your not-so-great bishop – that is a good exchange! You eliminated your opponent’s good piece against your bad piece.

Try to do such trades as much as possible to get a good position.

Similarly, a bad exchange is when you give up your important piece for an average piece of your opponent. Such exchanges are unfavorable for you.

What are sacrifices?

Sacrificing pieces basically means that you intentionally give up your piece which is of a higher value to a piece of lower value of your opponent. Or sometimes you just give up your piece without anything in return at all!

For example –

  • Giving up your rook (which is 5 points) to capture the opponent’s bishop (3 points)
  • Giving up a queen(which is 9 points) for your opponent’s pawn (1 point).

But why sacrifice?

Would you give away Rs. 10 for a Re. 1 coin?

Obviously no right?

But what if you do research and realize that if you buy the Re. 1 coin today, the coin will be worth Rs. 100 in the next 3 months in the market? All you have to do is pay Rs.10 right now for the coin.

Most likely, you’ll buy it, depending on how good your research is!

That’s exactly what sacrifice is in chess. It’s a form of investment. You give up something right now, with the intention to get a return in the future.

Making a sacrifice requires some degree of understanding and tactical ability. You must be sharp in your calculations and be able to soundly evaluate the resulting position beforehand. External factors like risk-taking skills, courageousness, and confidence are also important. After all, you are giving up your piece so you must trust your decision!

Also, sacrifices need to have an intention behind them. If not, then you can call them blunders(or bad investments!).

Sacrifices are usually decisive in nature. Unlike trades where the material is balanced after exchanging pieces, sacrifices are usually done for two purposes – to get a better position or to get out of a bad position.

Sacrifice or Trade - How to handle your game

Types of sacrifices

There are 3 basic types of sacrifices for your understanding –

  1. Gambit – this word is commonly used to describe pawn sacrifices. Usually done in the opening or early middlegame, gambits are made to gain a positional advantage at the cost of a pawn (or two). Most of the time, you gain time by making good piece development or controlling squares while your opponent is busy capturing your pawns.
  2. Piece Sacrifice – it is when you sacrifice any piece other than your pawns. Usually, this is more decisive than pawn sacrifice and leads to a better position in the resulting position or even better – a mate!
  3. Exchange sacrifice – it is when you give up your rook for your opponent’s knight or bishop. It is usually done to control important squares and where your minor piece might have more activity than your opponent’s rook.

Taking the decision to make a sacrifice comes with a lot of experience and training. That’s why our coaches often emphasize solving tactics and mate puzzles. This way, children can build their confidence when it comes to giving with their pieces and evaluating the future position correctly in their mind.

Conclusion? Know your purpose

Knowing the purpose of exchange and a sacrifice really helps in understanding how to use them. The more you play, the better your choices will be regarding the various trades and sacrifices you make.

Good luck and have fun trading and sacrificing your pieces.

If you’re looking for an experienced coach who will guide your child and them improve their game, book a call with us!


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