Equality on pieces can be misleading

Chess Checks

Equality on pieces can be misleading

Material equality or the same number of pieces do not denote equality in a chess game. Certain positions are strategically lost even though both sides may enjoy equal number of pieces as the continuation is more or less forced and the game tilted on one side.

Beginners may feel to understand this concept and only after gaining experience may be able to understand the technique needed to force victory in such positions.

In the game which follows, White is dominating throughout and the ending position is beautiful as both players have identical number of pawns and pieces. A casual glance at the board and the beginner may fail to understand why Black resigned in this position. However careful study and calculations may reveal why Black resigned.

White: Viktor Kortschnoi (2676) – Black: Andrei Istratescu (2570)Batumi, 1999

Nimzo Indian Defence

 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4The Nimzo Indian Defence 4.Qc2 0–0 5.Nf3 c5This is the main line for this defence. Other options are  5...d5;5...d6 and 5...b6.6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3White can also play 7.Qxc37...d5  8.e3 b6 9.cxd5If 9.Bb2 Ba6 10.cxd5 Bxf1 11.Kxf1 Qxd59...exd5. If 9...Qxd5 10.c4 Qh510.a4. White played a novelty. If 10.Bd3 Nc6 11.0–0 Re8 12.Bb2 Qd6 13.Rfe1 Bd710...Ne4. If 10...Ba6 11.Bb5 Bxb5 12.axb5 Re811.a5 Bf5. If 11...bxa5 12.dxc5 Nxc5 13.Ba3 Qb6 14.Rb1 Qc7 15.c4 and White is better as he appears to have ample compensation for the pawn12.axb6 Nc6. If 12...Ng3 13.b7 Bxc2 14.bxa8Q Nxh1 15.Rxa7 and White is better13.b7. A good move though the position really looks odd at an opening stage of the game. White can also look at  13.dxc5 axb6  14.Rxa8 Qxa8 15.Nh413...Rb8 14.dxc5 Rxb7. If 14...Ng3 15.Qa4 And if 14...Qf6 15.Bd3 Rxb715.Bd3 Qf6. Black can also seriously look at 15...Bg6 16.0–0 Nxc5 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Ba3 Qa5 19.c4 Nb3 20.Qb216.0–0. If 16.Nd4 Nxf2 17.Qxf2 Nxd4 18.exd4 Bxd3 19.Qxf6 gxf6 16...Bg6 17.Nd4 Ne5If 17...Nxc5 18.Bxg6 hxg6 19.Ba3 Nxd4 (19...Qd6 20.Nb3 Rxb3 21.Bxc5 Qxc5 22.Qxb3) 20.cxd4 Nb3 21.Bxf8 Nxa1 22.Qc8 Qa6 23.e4 Kh7 24.exd5 and White should win18.c6. Better appears 18.Ra6 19.c618...Nxc6 19.f3 Ng5If  19...Nc5  20.Bxg6 fxg6 21.Ba3 Qd620.h4 Nxd4If  20...Bxd3 21.Qxd3 Ne5 (21...Nxd4 22.hxg5) 22.hxg521.cxd4 Ne6. A tactical blunder. It was crucial for Black to respond with  21...Bxd3 22.Qxd3 Ne6 23.Ra5 Rd8 to stay in the game22.Bxg6 hxg6 23.Qc6 Rc7If 23...Rfb8 24.Qxd5 Qxh4 25.Qe5 white has a big advantage24.Qxd5 Qxh4 25.Bd2. If 25.Qe5 26.d525...Rd8 26.Qe5 Rcd7Another mistake! Black should have played 26...Re7 27.Be1 Qf6 28.Bg3 Qxe5 (28...Nxd4 29.Qxf6 Ne2+ 30.Kf2) 29.Bxe5 f6 30.Bg327.Ra5 Qf6 28.Rfa1 Qxe5 29.Rxe5 Ra8Trying to defend the pawn which is passive. Black could have tried to play more actively with 29...Rc8 30.Rea5 Rcc730.Rea5. A good move!30...Nd8. If 30...f5  31.d5 Nc7 32.e4 and White should win31.Ra6 Ne6 32.Be1This bishop will be a strong one now!32. .. Kf8 33.Bg3 Rb7 [33...Ke8]34.d5 Nc7 35.R6a5 Ke8 36.e4 Kd7 37.Bf2!? …a6 38.Bg3! Rb6 39.Bf4 [39.R5a4!? e1–a5]39...f6 40.Bg3 g5 41.R5a4 Kd8 42.Be1 Kd7 43.Ba5+– Rd6 44.Kf2

Diagram 1A strategically lost position and Black resigns.1–0Diagram 2White to play and checkmate 1.Nxh7+ Nxh7 2.Ng6 checkmate.

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