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I'm looking at this position.

[Title "White to move: +10"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[FEN "r3kb1r/2pnp1p1/p3Bn1p/8/Np1Pq3/4B3/PP21PPP/R2Q1RK w kq - 0 1"]

Material is even, and in my inexperience I don't see an immediate advantage as white. Meanwhile, Stockfish 16 (from chess.com, at a depth of 41) rates this position as +10. What am I missing? What's the clear advantage for white?

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  • When providing info about an engine evaluation it's important, besides its name, give its version and depth. For example, SF 15.1 changed the meaning of an evaluation of +1 (nowadays it has nothing to do with the value of a pawn, but it means the engine "believes" will gain that position 50% of the times): stockfishchess.org/blog/2022/stockfish-15-1
    – emdio
    Feb 28 at 11:34
  • I have included that information. Feb 28 at 13:14
  • 2
    Stockfish 16 at depth 42 with 12 Mn/s (15 threads, 512 MB memory), evaluated this at +6.9 with White seeking to develop with threats 1. Qb3 and 2. Rac1 followed by 3. Rfe2. White then begins an interesting attack with some sacrifices. (not an answer, posting for reference) Feb 28 at 13:47

2 Answers 2

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The clear advantage for white is development! Because of black not having a LSB and the placement of whites pieces, black cant trade off the E6 bishop after Qb3 protects the bishop.That bishop hems in the black kingside, effectively making black play down a rook and bishop (+8 materially speaking) and also note that black's king is in the centre of the board (worth a pawn at least,so +9 roughly speaking) and cant castle long as the queenside is busted so if white brings rooks to the C and E file black is completely paralysed. Although I am also surprised by the +10 eval, thought it would be closer to 8 ish

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From a human perspective, this is what I see ...

  • Black's king is very unsafe. White's is completely safe.
  • The light squared weaknesses around black's king are devastating.
  • White has the bishop pair in an open game and black has traded off their light squared bishop exacerbating the light square weaknesses caused by pushing both the f-pawn and the h-pawn.
  • Black is down a rook for the nonce and his bishop is not helping much.
  • The semi-open c-file is white's
  • White has the initiative
  • Good moves for white are very easy to find. Black is fighting to survive.
  • White's plan is simple. Qb3, Rfe1, Rac1, d5, etc.

For me, engine evaluations are becoming less and less useful (see cool comment by @emdio below, however). I often get positions where SF 16 is evaluating the position +5 or +6 and I can't tell why. I feel bad saying that, but it is what it is. The engine is so strong, that it knows with almost certainty that it will win this position. For players at the master or club level, it's pretty clear white is better and should win. I would have said +4/5 if you showed me this position. If you put this position in the hands of any GM, they would win as white 999/1000 times.

Here is SF's scoring of each piece courtesy of @emdio

SF per piece score

As you can see, the engine places massive value on the bishop on e6. It rates it slightly more valuable than the black queen!

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    "Engine evaluations are not that useful anymore." The thing is that SF now provides an interesting diagram with the static evaluation. It provides a score for each piece on the board Note for example the huge (+5.44) value of the white bishop on e6, and how the black queen has almost the same value as the white bishop (which to me it's not that easy to understand).
    – emdio
    Feb 29 at 8:41
  • @emdio Interesting. Thank you for posting that. I'll look into that capability. I will add "for me" :)
    – JP Alioto
    Feb 29 at 13:21
  • @emdio I hope you will post an answer with this image with NNUE derived piece values. It is very interesting and certainly adds value for future visitors. It would complement JP Alioto's excellent answer nicely. Feb 29 at 14:08

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