The most typical cases of material imbalances are:
1) Sacrificing an exchange. A rook is sacrificed for a knight/bishop with or without a pawn. This can often be seen in closed positions, when the opponent’s rooks have no open files to work on, and the minor pieces feel superior. Tigran Petrosian was famous for his proprietary exchange sacrifices.
2) A positional sacrifice of a minor piece for one or two pawns. A widespread scenario is sacking a piece for two connected central pawns. For example, you might have seen my game vs Tatiana Kosintseva from the latest Russian Superfinal (included in the short list of best November games at ChessPro).
3) Positional sacrifice of a queen for a rook and bishop (or knight) with/without pawns. For instance, one of the variations in the Dragon is based on sacrificing a queen for a rook and bishop.
When playing a position with a material imbalance, one should be especially careful since even a minor mistake may lead to a quick loss due to lack of material. One needs to approach the game creatively, not the way we look at “normal” positions. To learn how to treat such situations, one has to gain both practical experience and study remarkable games of chess masters. Also, it is important to feel when to go for a material imbalance, and not to be afraid of giving up material.
In the game that I will share with you today my opponent, IM Anastasia Bodnaruk, has positionally sacrificed an exchange.
P.S. Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!
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