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Every Russian Schoolboy Knows: Exchange Sacrifice in the Endgame - Part 4

Opening: D10, B90, B25:

Player(s): Akesson, Volkov, Caruana, Dominguez, Katz, Klemm

Exchange sacrifice is a powerful tool that has many uses in different stages of the game. Pertaining to the endgame it's most often used to stifle the opponent's initiative and maybe viewed primarily as a defensive resource. However, in many cases it also allows to fight for an advantage. How can a less effective piece compete against a more powerful one? Obviously, some other factors need to be present. It begins with a pawn advantage, both quantitative and qualitative. Usually, at least one extra pawn is required to provide adequate compensation, and you'd probably need at least two extra pawns to play for a win. Your pawn structure is better be solid to withstand attacks from enemy rook(s). It is important to keep the base of your pawn chain safely protected. Another factor is the presence of other pieces. The advantage of Rook vs minor piece is most visible in its pure form, so when considering a sacrifice you need to make sure you'll be able to keep your last rook on the board. 

Video#4 presents a slightly different situation, where the remaining minor piece is a knight. Because of it being a shorter range piece it's imperative to bring up the king to join together with an active knight and passed pawn(s), rather than end up drifting back with the knight to help protect the king. This is what happened in Akesson-Volkov and it ended in disaster. The side with the rook must stay active, Even a slight hesitation can be deadly, as the opponent's powerful unit of R+N+pawns can deliver a mortal blow to the king, as happened in Caruana-Dominguez. Once again, a return exchange sacrifice may represented the only chance to survive.

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