16 March 2008

Practical Technique

While playing from position 302 in Fred Reinfeld's 1001 Sacrifices and Combinations (see "Power of Pawns"), I reached this position with White to move.

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Here I conjured the notion to sacrifice my material advantage in hopes of eliminating any possible counterplay. 1.Nc4! Hiarcs took the knight, the rooks were exchanged, and then I played a2-a3, although Ke4 might have been better.

1...dxc4 2.Rxd6 Kxd6 3.a3

As a result of my sacrifice, I reached a materially equal, but easily won king and pawn endgame. The rest was simple.

From the diagram position, the computer seeks to improve the position of the White pieces while maintaining a material advantage. We might say that moves like Ke3 or f5 (the moves favored by Hiarcs and Fritz) are objectively best. However, the practical decision to eliminate counterplay seems more sensible for human players.

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