Exercise care in exchange of pieces

Chess Checks


The art of exchanging pieces needs calculation, judgment and experience in a game of chess.

Many a times exchanging off the crucial pieces can lead to deterioration of position and ultimately in the loss of a game.

Important motifs like keeping the bishop pair intact, exchanging passive pieces with the good pieces can be factors in turning an even game into a victory or a loss into a draw.

In the game which follows, white is in a bit of trouble but nothing major till he suddenly decides to give off his bishop pair advantage for no reason. Black cashes in on it and improves his position to clinch the game.

White: Jessi Tella (2434) – Black: Alexei Lugovoi (2509)
Et Vas Vantaa, 1999
Nimzo Indian
1.d4 Nf62.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.a3 Ba5
If 8...dxc49.Bxc4 Ba5  
White temporarily wins a pawn, and acquires the bishop pair, hoping that it will be activated in the course of black re-establishing material parity.
Black, meanwhile, as so often in the Nimzo, puts his trust in light-square
9...exd5 10.dxc5 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Bg4
If 11...Qa5 12.Qc2
12.c4Ne5 13.cxd5 Bxf3
If 13...Nxd5 14.Be4 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 (15.gxf3 Qg5+ 16.Kh1 Nc3) 15...Nc3 16.Qxd8 Nxf3+ 17.gxf3 Rfxd8 18.Bb2 Ne2+ 19.Kg2 Rd2 20.Rab1 And if  13...Qxd5 14.Bxh7+
White’s castle is disturbed
14. ..Qxd5 15.Be2 Qxc5 16.Bb2 Rad8 17.Bd4 Qc8
This queen move on the back rank is more aggressive than it appears as the Queen is aiming for the h3 square from where it can target the white King from close range
White also gets the Queen to target long range
8. ..Rfe8

Diagram 1

A mistake! White’s position deteriorates after this.
He loses the bishop pair advantage without any fight.
If  19.f4Rxd4 a) 19...Qh3 20.Qxb7 Rd5 (a) 20...Neg4 21.Bxg4 Nxg4 22.Qg2) 21.f3 Rxd4 22.exd4 Ng6 23.Bc4 Nxf4 24.Qxf7+ Kh8 25.Ra2 went in white’s favour in a previous game
19...Rxe5ƒ20.f4 Rc5 21.Bf3 b6 22.Rd1 Rxd1+ 23.Qxd1 g6
Black is better. He dominates the c-file; has targets in the weak a-pawn and white's potentially loose king position; and white has no real source of counterplay. The f3 bishop has a fine looking diagonal, but nothing to hit.
24.Qd6Kg7 25.Rd1 Qh3
White’s ruptured castle is a big source of worry for him and with Black’s queen hovering dangerously close, things are going to be difficult
26.Bg2 Qf5 27.h3 Qc2 28.Qd4 Ra5
White has no counter play.
29.Rd2Qc1+ 30.Kh2 Rxa3 31.e4
White can only aspire to create any play at the expense of weakening his structure.
31...Ra432.Qe3 Qc4 33.e5 Ne4
If 33...Nh534.f5
If 34.Rb2Qc3
White is a pawn down and his position has almost collapsed
35.Qxe4 Rxe4 36.Kg3 Kf8 37.Rd7 a5 38.Rb7 Rb4 39.Kg4 h6! 40.h4 a4 41.h5 g5 42.Kg3 gxf4+ 43.Kg4 Rb5 and white resigned.

Diagram 2

White to play and checkmate
Since the g7 square is heavily guarded by Black, White has to look at a more decisive blow.
1.  ..Kxf8 2.Qf7 checkmate.

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