05 November 2007

Opening Exchange Sac [E38]

I find the exchange sacrifice particularly attractive when it happens in the opening, by definition almost always for long term positional compensation. I found the following example in the Soviet School of Chess. Verlinsky was one of ten players that Kotov and Yudovich included in a section 'Illustrious Names', all Soviet players who had died before the book was published.

In the diagrammed position, Black was undoubtedly expecting 11.Bd2 Nxd2 12.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 13.Nxd2, with a playable game. White played instead 11.Nd2. Now if 11...Nxd2 then 12.Bxd2, and the Black Queen must retreat leaving White with the advantage.

Black played the obvious 11...Nb4, perhaps expecting the White Queen to retreat. White again found the better move 12.axb4, forcing Black to win the exchange with 12...Qxa1.

7th USSR Championship 1931
Kirillov, Vladimir

Verlinsky, Boris
(After 10...Qd8-a5+)
[FEN "r1b1k2r/pp3ppp/2n1p3/q2p4/2PPn3/P2BPN2/2Q2PPP/R1B1K2R w KQkq - 0 11"]

The game continued 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Bxe4 f5 15.Bd3 Bd7 16.O-O Qa4 17.Qb2 O-O and White won in the middle game. What is White's compensation for the exchange? The game's annotator wrote, 'White has only an extra Pawn, but his overwhelming superiority in the center, plus his two Bishops, give him every reason to count on victory.' To this I would add that the mobility of Black's Bishop is restricted by the e-Pawn and the Queenside Pawns will become an object of attack.

To play through the complete game see...

Boris Verlinsky vs Vladimir Grigorevich Kirillov, URS-ch07 1931

...on Chessgames.com. I know of a few more opening exchange sacrifices that I'll mention if I can locate the games.


J Shoe said...

The correct game link is

Mark Weeks said...

Fixed. Thanks for pointing it out. - Mark