Is it possible to deduce brilliant sacrifices by analyzing a match's PGN along with the corresponding evaluation score after each move? If not, what other non-visual information would be needed to be able to deduce when a player made sacrifices to help his cause?

1 Answer 1


It would be easy to detect sacrifices- if the material count in the position suddenly drops, but the computer evaluation position doesn't drop a lot, and the material isn't restored within a short number of moves (to avoid simple exchanges being considered sacrifices), then it would be a sound sacrifice. This would miss out on a lot of unsound sacrifices or sacrifices that computers don't understand, however- there are many cases of this with fortresses etc. Detecting brilliant sacrifices would probably be even harder.

  • So to clarify, you are saying that "sound" sacrifices can be guaranteed to be detected? Or are you saying that even some sacrifices deemed to be sound by the method you described can ultimately be proven to be unsound?
    – Wins94
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 1:48
  • Also, the method you describe needs material count, something that is not readily given by the PGN and evaluation score.
    – Wins94
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 4:35
  • 4
    Material count is easy to calculate given a PGN, right
    – justhalf
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 8:26
  • 2
    A well-placed pawn is worth more than a badly-placed bishop. If one makes a move that nominally trades a pawn for a bishop, but does so in a way that the capturing pawn completely cuts an opponent's bishop out of the action, is that a "sacrifice"?
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 16:21
  • Note that these "difficult to detect" sacrifices indicate flaws in the engine - if you're able to find such a condition manually you would want to bring it up to the developers of the engine you're using!
    – corsiKa
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 18:28

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