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I have noted in a number of games from Master players that sacrifices are rapidly played till both sides are reduced to just about equal in material and virtually the same pieces, at least in value. Is this a deliberate act by both players? It seems to be strategical by clearing the board of the garbage and getting to the heart of the matter, victory.

  • Interesting question. Now that you mention it, I may have noticed the same thing. Does an example come to mind? – thb Jun 7 '17 at 0:22
  • Wait, maybe I don't understand your question.... – thb Jun 7 '17 at 0:23
  • Can you post an example game? It sounds more like an opening that leads to a massive exchange of pieces, rather than true sacrifices. – Herb Wolfe Jun 7 '17 at 1:05
  • One side sacrifices for an attack, if other side is not comfortable with it searches for a sacrifice returning material advantage and killing the attack. Is this what you mean? – ferit Jun 7 '17 at 7:42
  • I attempted to keep my question brief rather than to give a drawn out narrative. I guess many things can be infered from it. Below I believe, are some excellent answers to the question, and no I cannot give examples because I do not remember the games. I think an example of this is given by a below responder Philip Roe edited by Glorfindel. Also my term sacrifice might have been misleading as I am noting. I have to thank all of you for your reply. Thanks. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 11:08
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I have noted in a number of games from Master players that sacrifices are rapidly played till both sides are reduced to just about equal in material and virtually the same pieces, at least in value.

I don't think that happens often at all. What does happen is that players exchange pieces -- say white captures a piece, in return black takes a piece back, often the piece that just captured. That is perfectly normal, but it's not a sacrifice. A sacrifice is when you let something of yourself be captured and then you don't capture anything back.

It's natural for a game between two strong players to end up with more or less the same material; they're good enough to avoid moves that simply lose material outright.

Is this a deliberate act by both players?

Well, they would of course rather just capture pieces without having their own pieces captured in return, but the opponent doesn't want to go along with that.

It's normal to react to a piece that is threatened by defending it -- so that the capturing piece can be captured back.

Generally every move a master makes is a deliberate act, or they wouldn't be any good at the game. A decision to exchange a set of pieces is not to be taken lightly, apparently the master decided it was the best move to make in the given position.

It seems to be strategical by clearing the board of the garbage and getting to the heart of the matter, victory.

I don't know what this means.

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  • Clearing the board of garbage. Essentially I was viewing all the pieces as clutter to the real event ergo they play to clear this away so they can get to the heart of the matter. I would presume this to be pursued by the best. Thanks for yoour response. Appreciate your insight.. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 10:56
  • I attempted a comment but it seems to have disappeared. Garbage. It is clearing the board to get to the real matter at hand. It was simply a thought at the time. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 11:16
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It sounds like you are referring to even trades which would reduce the game to an ending. This would more likely tend to lead to a draw than a victory. If one side makes a true sacrifice, that should lead to an advantage of some sort and ultimately a victory for that side if the sacrifice had been accurately calculated.

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  • O.K. I have to believe that is true also. I was merely speculating having viewed some games that moved in that direction. I guess I could have been a bit more exact but at the time I just got the idea out. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 10:57
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Maybe you are thinking of something like this, which is the most wonderful series of combinations and counter combinations. Well-played games should end in balance.

[Event "UK - USSR radiomatch"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1946.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "2"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "William Albert Fairhurst"]
[Black "Salomon Flohr"]
[ECO "D74"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[FEN ""]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.Nf3 O-O 7.O-O
Nc6 8.e4 Nb6 9.d5 Nb8 10.Nc3 c6 11.Be3 cxd5 12.exd5 N8d7
13.Qb3 Nf6 14.Rfd1 Ne8 15.Nb5 Bd7 16.Nxa7 Na4 17.Nc6 bxc6
18.dxc6 Nd6 19.cxd7 Nxb2 20.Rxd6 exd6 21.Nd4 Rb8 22.Nc6 Rxb3
23.Nxd8 Rxe3 24.Nc6 Rc3 25.d8=Q Rxd8 26.Nxd8 Bf6 27.Nb7 Rc2
28.Nxd6 Nd3 29.Rf1 Rxa2 1/2-1/2

Notice at the end that Nxf7 is answered by Rxf2.

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  • Philip, you're almost correct with the code for the PGN replayer. You can click edit to see what was missing. – Glorfindel Jun 7 '17 at 8:03
  • Ah. I will have to play that out to see it. I am a visual player and reading the game does not let me see the event unfolding. Thanks for your response. All I am receiving is being very educational learning experiance for me. Thank you. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 11:00
  • @Glock27. You should be able to play through the game using the Next button below the diagram. Enjoy! – Philip Roe Jun 8 '17 at 22:13
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There are a few potential answers to this:

  1. Pseudo sacrifices
  2. Positional sacrifices
  3. Speculative sacrifices for activity

A pseudo sacrifice is one where a player deliberately gives up material, knowing they will recover the material in the next few moves. One example is given as follows: 1. e4 d6 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nxe4 (OK this has lots of potential outcomes but the point is after 4. Nxe4 d5 will fork the bishop and knight, recovering one of the pieces)

A positional sacrifice is one where a player chooses to go down on material, maybe without even a promise of the material being returned - one classic example is the Karpov game against Guyla Sax http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1068373 - this game illustrated the power of a bishop compared to a rook on an open board. Karpov was in no rush to recover the material, knowing his opponent's king being in the open was enough compensation. Similar ideas include giving up a piece to open lines.

The speculative sacrifice for activity was often employed by players like Tal who would happily give up a minor piece in exchange for open lines, easier development or just to create complexity. I would say the first two sacrifices are easier to understand and apply in practice but it's good to get a feel for this latter type, as it can save many lost positions.

http://www.thequietmove.com/durham/ 17..Nxc4 is a nice example of another Pseudo Sacrifice.

To develop a keen eye for these, tactical training and awareness of positional themes (e.g. Loose pieces drop off LPDO) are very helpful.

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  • 1
    Thank you for such a cogent response. I was suspicious when I noted this happening. I appreciate your preciseness. Can you elucidate even more by referencing some click and play games to observe this activity more closely? Really appreciate your response. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 10:48
  • I write a number of articles on chess on my blog (thequietmove) and I will try and put an article on there to try and address this in a more detailed way. Pleased my response helped you. – Andrew Sainsbury Jun 8 '17 at 13:05
  • "thequietmove" I will have to go there as I am always interested in the perspectives of and in Chess. I believe every education should have Chess in their curriculum as a mandatory subject to be studied for all twelve years. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 18:44
  • The chessgames.com example was nice and yes it was much slower, and for reason, than some I have noted. Thanks for the reference. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 18:48
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I have noted in a number of games from Master players that sacrifices are rapidly played till both sides are reduced to just about equal in material and virtually the same pieces, at least in value. Is this a deliberate act by both players?

In these kinds of games, the counter-sacrifice may be necessary because that player does not want to hand over an overwhelming initiative to the opponent. The fight for the initiative, which is of high importance in professional chess, cannot be overstated when playing at high levels.

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  • First thank you for that bright response. I had been suspicious and your reply helps to clarify my suspicions. Thanks – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 10:50
  • Care to clarify that comment? – Priyome Jun 8 '17 at 17:53
  • Thank you Priyome. Nice perspective. Interesting on how many different possible response there can be. – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 18:42
  • How much more can I clarify it? I thought it was a "bright response", "good", "perceptive", "cogent", "learned", "precise", "intelligent", "spit shine remark", "cognitively strong". Is that what you mean by clarify? – Glock27 Jun 8 '17 at 19:04

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