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1. 08 May '06 16:03
In one of Seirwan's books he says that if you find yourself cramped, try to exchange some pieces to free up space. However, usually if you are cramped, you are likely to be behind in material as well. This leads to a conundrum for me. From the point of view of the person with a material lead, I can see two arguments:

You should exchange pieces like crazy to extend your lead, expressed as a fraction of the total pieces. For example, if I am ahead by a minor piece early in the game, the ratio of material on the board might be something like 20/17. However, late in the game the same minor piece represents a much greater fraction of the material still on the board, like 7/4.

OR

You should avoid exchanging so as not to let your opponent free whatever pieces are pinned down by your extra material.

Any thoughts on this?
2.  DeepThought
08 May '06 16:18
It depends, quite a lot of black's defences don't, or at least shouldn't, involve going material down but do involve going for quite a cramped position; then taking the most dangerous of white's pieces will improve black's position, taking off the most important black defender will make it worse. Quite often an advantage in space can turn into a badly overstretched position when the pieces needed to defend the forward pawns are no longer on the board. There aren't any hard and fast rules, basically you should ask yourself: "If I swap off these pieces will it make it easier for me, or for my opponent?"
3.  BigDoggProblem
08 May '06 17:02
Originally posted by Archaeopteryx
However, usually if you are cramped, you are likely to be behind in material as well.
Why? It's just as easy to lose material in an open, free game. Material imbalance should be treated as a seperate factor from space.

Having a cramped position and a material disadvantage probably adds up to a lost game. If you're finding it difficult to apply general principles, or 'book' advice, it's because objectively, there are no good moves in a lost position. The only chance to redeem such positions is to try and play the move that will disturb your opponent the most, or confuse the issue the most.
4. 08 May '06 17:26
When you are up material trade off pieces into a winning endgame. 4 pieces vs 3 = 75%. Trade off 2 pieces, 2 vs 1 = 50%. You have a bigger advantage.

When you are down material try not to trade off pieces.

When you are cramped trade of material to give your pieces room to breath. I don't think you are down material in a cramped position. I've rarely seen this happen. I mostly equal material but one side has more space because of their advanced pawns.
5. 08 May '06 20:32 / 1 edit
Originally posted by RahimK
...I don't think you are down material in a cramped position. I've rarely seen this happen. I mostly equal material but one side has more space because of their advanced pawns.
Of course this is true. Perhaps cramping is the wrong word. I was generalizing a bit. What I was getting at is that often in positions where I feel I am definitively on the offensive, I usually have an extra N or B that the opponent cannot answer, or has to overload one of his/her other pieces to defend.

In these positions I often find myself wondering if I should keep up the pressure of my extra piece and avoid exchanging, and maybe look for a mate or fork. Or maybe I should sprint to the end game by exchanging pieces at first opportunity and converting my material advantage into a Q.

Of course the best answer is "whatever is better" and is a matter of style to some extent, but I was curious what others thought, in general.
6. 08 May '06 20:37
Originally posted by Archaeopteryx
Of course this is true. Perhaps cramping is the wrong word. I was generalizing a bit. What I was getting at is that often in positions where I feel I am definitively on the offensive, I usually have an extra N or B that the opponent cannot answer, or has to overload one of his/her other pieces to defend.

In these positions I often find myself won ...[text shortened]... is a matter of style to some extent, but I was curious what others thought, in general.
When I am up a whole piece, my plan is almost always just to trade off pieces to a (easily) won endgame. The only time I change this, is when the enemy king is exposed.

As to the first question, Seirawan (sp) was talking about cases with equal material. Once your down a knight, if you don't have some great compensation (if your short of space, and lack the initiative, you don't have it) the game should be over (this depends on the calibre of your opponent).
7.  AThousandYoung
Gonzalo de Córdoba
08 May '06 21:02
Originally posted by Archaeopteryx
Of course this is true. Perhaps cramping is the wrong word. I was generalizing a bit. What I was getting at is that often in positions where I feel I am definitively on the offensive, I usually have an extra N or B that the opponent cannot answer, or has to overload one of his/her other pieces to defend.

In these positions I often find myself won ...[text shortened]... is a matter of style to some extent, but I was curious what others thought, in general.
In general and in such a situation, don't try to make exchanges, but don't run from them. Exchanges happen. Eventually your lead will work out. The second the enemy starts to have a threat, exchange pieces off until his threat is no longer there. You have two possibilities to win; endgame with material lead or a middle game combo of some kind. Allow your opponent to choose his doom and as he's doing so strengthen your position.
8. 08 May '06 21:43
Chess rule number one: When ahead in material, exchange pieces. When behind, exchange pawns. It's an old trick I learned in Viet Nam.
9. 08 May '06 21:47 / 1 edit
Originally posted by AThousandYoung
In general and in such a situation, don't try to make exchanges, but don't run from them. Exchanges happen. Eventually your lead will work out. The second the enemy starts to have a threat, exchange pieces off until his threat is no longer there. You have two possibilities to win; endgame with material lead or a middle game combo of some kind. Allow your opponent to choose his doom and as he's doing so strengthen your position.
Well said.

Let me turn it around. If I find myself down by a minor piece, and I know my opponent is willing to exchange because it just brings on an endgame advantage for him/her, how would I try to salvage the game?

[missed the previous post will writing this one]
10.  wormwood
If Theres Hell Below
08 May '06 22:52
Originally posted by Archaeopteryx
Well said.

Let me turn it around. If I find myself down by a minor piece, and I know my opponent is willing to exchange because it just brings on an endgame advantage for him/her, how would I try to salvage the game?

[missed the previous post will writing this one]
complicate things as much as you can. try to avoid exchanging, but not at all costs.
11. 08 May '06 23:15
Originally posted by Archaeopteryx
Well said.

Let me turn it around. If I find myself down by a minor piece, and I know my opponent is willing to exchange because it just brings on an endgame advantage for him/her, how would I try to salvage the game?

[missed the previous post will writing this one]
It really depends on the position.

Remember some endgames are drawn when one side has a minor piece + king vs King.

So say he has a knight and bishop + pawn +king vs your bishop and king.

Your king and knight both attack the pawn and his bishop defends the pawn.

You take the pawn with the knight, his bishop capture, you take with the king. He is up a knight but can't mate you thus a draw.