I just played what I believe was a set of moves that gave me an overwhelming advantage (I exchanged 2 minor pieces for rook + 2 pawns + prevented castling + doubled pawns + exposed enemy king):

(I am playing Black, so flipping the board is recommended)

[FEN ""]
1. d3  e5 2. e3  Nc6 3. Bd2  d6 4. h3  Nf6 5. Nc3  b6 6. Qf3  Bb7 7. d4  Nxd4 8. Qxb7  Nxc2+ 9. Kd1  Nxa1 10. Qc6+  Nd7 11. Kc1  Be7 12. Kb1  Nb3 13. axb3  O-O

In the final position, one would think black is winning, but in fact engines say I am around -0.50, and I did lose the game. The opponent soon controlled my dark squared bishop after Nf3, and also I couldn't kick the queen away.

What do you think of this position? What color do you think will win more often using non-amateur strength?

  • White should have played Nd5 even earlier. Say, on move 11. The Na1 is dead, so Nd5 threatens the c-pawn. The chess engine I have liked ...exd4 with the idea of Qe7+ and o-o-o. Then the bishop is guarded if it attacks the queen.
    – aschultz
    Apr 26, 2017 at 21:26
  • 1
    I don't know why anyone would assume Black is winning in the resulting position. I actually prefer White
    – David
    Sep 10, 2019 at 7:55

5 Answers 5


In the immediate future Black has major light-square weaknesses and is susceptible to blockade (Nd5, Ba6). It's going to be difficult for Black to break out. Ideally Black would like to get his pawns onto light squares and free his bad bishop but this will be difficult to achieve.

White has an undeveloped kingside, doubled pawns, but easy development and his king is not particularly weak being on a light square. White's ridiculously advanced queen position is surprisingly secure.

I prefer White.


In terms of material, it's about even. I didn't care for your 3... d6 move. White is surrendering the center, why not take it with 3.. d5?

Your challenge here is that White has more pieces so he can focus on more weak spots than you can, and he can double up on weak spots where you cannot. White will find it easier to get his 2 pieces into the game than you will in getting your Rook activated. This means that in this position, they are worth more than "1 point" more than the Rook. Further, White's doubled pawns are only weak if you can attack them. Otherwise they just allow White to activate his rook.

While I don't think White has an overwhelming advantage; the game is by no means lost. You just have to keep the pressure on to force a mistake. The weaknesses you mention for White are real, but they only matter if you can exploit them.


What color do you think will win more often using non-amateur strength?

White will win every single game from this position, "hands down".

What do you think of this position?

Position is better for White, but with "scientific" defensive moves Black might have equal chances (but that requires detailed analysis to be proven for sure).

Let me clarify my answers a bit by analyzing the game after 7. ...Nxd4:

You get 7 units for 6 units ( rook + 2 pawns for knight + bishop ) and mathematically speaking, you are better.

White loses castling, but in the end manages to get his king to safety (the point of castling is to get king into safety, not to just play it) when we add up pros and cons the result is zero. Although he lost castling right his king is safe.

You have doubled and isolated his pawns, so you have better pawn structure.

Your position is not weakened, and you have finished your development.

These are all good things for Black, but here is the "killer":

You have lost 7 tempos (you played b6 + Bb7 and those are 2 lost tempos since you have lost the bishop, 7. ...Nxd4, 8. ...Nxc2 9. ...Nxa1, 10. ...Nd7) to achieve all this, while he lost 4 (8.Qxb7, 9.Kd1, 10.Qc6+, 11.Kc1).

The result is that you lost your "opening investment" while his position has transformed and this transformation has only improved his overall position.

Your position at the start aimed to pressurize White from afar and perform a breakout in the center or on the wing (probably with c5) but now all of your developed units are lost resulting in holes on the light squares which only queen and knight can cover.

In return you have got 2 pawns and a rook, but you need open lines for that rook, and you need to use the extra pawns to gain space, in order for compensation to be real.

White, on the other hand, has "castled" long, his doubled pawns are weak but they open lines for an attack (they do not teach you this in "school") and his opening idea-to physically pressure you by pushing his center and by pinning your pieces, has transformed into physical pressure on the light squares with the promise of the slight, but probably lasting and growing initiative.

Although Black has more pawns in the center he can't grab space with them so they are useless, they hinder his bishop making him bad, and White's e3 pawn controls d4 so there is no way we can say that Black has an advantage in space, rather it is a nearly equal distribution of strength for both.

You have developed more units in the beginning (by sacrificing space, hoping to attack from afar) , but now you have 3 developed pieces (castled rook, bishop and a knight), but White has developed his queen, bishop and a knight so you are both equal in that view. This means that you have deliberately lost your development advantage.

Mathematically speaking, you have an "extra pawn", so we need to see the compensation/positional/tactical factors, to properly assess this position:

White's opening strategy was to physically occupy the center (gaining space advantage) and to pressurize early (he played early with queen trying to do some sort of a pin), sacrificing his development.

Black's opening strategy was to develop fast and counter when feels comfortable.

The transformation of the position left you with rook + 2 pawns vs 2 minor pieces.

In those positions the side with minor pieces strives to leave the queens on board, exchange rooks, and go for mating attack, while the side with the rook strives to remove the queens and open the position, reaching an early endgame (you have 2 extra pawns).

In the above position, white has strong pressure, that can turn into mating attack (he already has h3 so he needs g4 and there we go!), while there is no way for you to further simplify and open lines.You can not even grab some space with the extra pawns you have.

The only way I see for you here (and Houdini confirmed it) is to sacrifice a pawn to open position and try to simplify things but this would mean that mathematically the material would be equal (pawn + rook vs 2 minor pieces).

Furthermore, it would bring you new weaknesses, without you losing the existing ones, and still I do not see what/how will you attack/create counterplay.

Even though your "math" was correct, you have a flaw: you miss-evaluate the resulting position after the exchange.You need to find the book on that, because this is a serious flaw that will cost you a lot in the future (I was there, believe me). At the moment I can't remember any book in English, but look it up. Just in case you fail to find books, I will try to give you a piece of advice for future games:
When exchanging pieces, always evaluate the resulting position that will arise after it.

If you only had known this earlier, you would have stayed away from 7. ...Nd4, because you would see all the cons and pros I have listed above.

Hopefully this will help you, if you have further questions, feel free to ask.

Good luck in your future games!

Best regards.


To break down the overall outcome of your exchange, you traded a knight and a bishop for a rook and two pawns. So you lost 6 material points while your opponent lost 7.

However, a knight and bishop are generally stronger than a rook and a pawn in a closed position. Unfortunately here, the position does look rather closed.

What really stands out to me is White's ability to launch an attack, and Black's inability to launch an attack. As mentioned, Nf3 would be a strong controlling move. But even if White wanted to be aggressive they could play Nd5 and immediately equalize material by winning the c pawn.

At first, it seemed like a neat move. On a deeper level of analysis the constricted structure that Black is left with really weighs you down.

  • agreed, knight and bishop for a rook - I'm a fan of that sacrifice personally, especially as end games get closer (consequently end games are typically open by definition), but one has to take into account open vs. closed positions, what the game is now and also what position it could be in a couple of moves. For future readers, a short article on what open and closed positions are.
    – MDMoore313
    Apr 26, 2013 at 14:26

I do not believe that Black is somewhat better. There are two viewpoints. From a very technical perspective, an Engine point of view, Black is surely better.

From a human point or psychological point of view White should be the one who has more attacking prospects and has reasonable play. White has better minor pieces and will rush his King side pawns towards Black's king. The attack from White will come faster than Black can handle.

Though Black's forces look to be well developed, none of them have crossed half of the board to attack White's King. White will play Nf3, Bd3, g5, Nd5 and with these active moves will turn weaknesses into a brutal attack. White's Bishop will point towards the Black K-side and slice him, depriving Black of any counterplay.

Black will defend more in this scenario and has to be very patient throughout the game. So I would prefer White in this position.

  • I don't think Black is better even from an engine point of view. There will be a day when engines will be good enough to acknowledge White is better here (if we're not yet on that day)
    – David
    Sep 10, 2019 at 7:58

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