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  1. 03 Oct '12 22:05
    This thread was created because Robbie Carrobie seems unable to understand
    the concept of a positional sacrifice in another recent thread that he created.

    This post attempts to arrive at a working definition of a 'positional sacrifice'.
    To begin with, a sacrifice of material has two possible aims: to win or to draw.

    A 'positional sacrifice' is a sacrifice made without a tactical justification.
    A tactical justification may be defined as one of these conditions:
    1) calculating until a forced mate
    2) calculating until a clearly winning or drawing (depending on the aim) endgame
    3) calculating until recovering at least the equivalent of the sacrificed material
    4) compensation in the form of attacking chances against the opponent's king

    If one of these tactical justifications is attached to it, it's not a positional sacrifice.
    An example of a positional sacrifice would be giving up a rook for a bishop in
    order to dominate the squares of the captured bishop's colour when this seems
    unrelated to an immediate attack against the opponent's king.

    In the case of Robbie's claimed 'positional sacrifice' (in an already winning position)
    it was possible (though perhaps not for Robbie) to calculate to a winning endgame.
  2. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    03 Oct '12 22:10 / 1 edit
    Great idea for a thread! Give me a little while and i'll contribute.

    EDIT: I might just add; 5. Sacraficing in order to set up a 'fortress'...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortress_%28chess%29
  3. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    03 Oct '12 22:25 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    This thread was created because Robbie Carrobie seems unable to understand
    the concept of a positional sacrifice in another recent thread that he created.

    This post attempts to arrive at a working definition of a 'positional sacrifice'.
    To begin with, a sacrifice of material has two possible aims: to win or to draw.

    A 'positional sacrifice' is a sa )
    it was possible (though perhaps not for Robbie) to calculate to a winning endgame.
    These kinds of threads are always linguistically tough, especially among international players.

    In my mind, any of the four tactical conditions being met means that the sequence is a combination, but not a sacrifice.

    It seems particularly true of 1, since a forced mate trumps everything. If the move played wins by force in the shortest number of moves, it is simply the most correct move, and other moves would range from less accurate to outright blunders, depending how far off target they are.

    I suppose we should clarify the definition of sacrifice to minimized the semantics. Rudolf Spielman is a good place to start, which is where the wikipedia entry on sacrifices begins:


    Rudolf Spielmann proposed a division between sham and real sacrifices:
    In a real sacrifice, the sacrificing player will often have to play on with less material than his opponent for quite some time.
    In a sham sacrifice, the player offering the sacrifice will soon regain material of the same or greater value, or else force mate. A sham sacrifice of this latter type is sometimes known as a pseudo sacrifice.

    In compensation for a real sacrifice, the player receives dynamic advantages which he must capitalize on, or risk losing the game due to the material deficit. Because of the risk involved, real sacrifices are also called speculative sacrifices.


    Here is the link for the full wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrifice_(chess)
  4. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    03 Oct '12 22:29 / 1 edit
    Ok, a pure positional sacrifice!

    Anish Giri v Levon Aronian Tata Steel 2012



    I'd love to explain this game, but i can't. I'm not 2800, sorry to disappoint. :'(
  5. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    03 Oct '12 22:35
    Originally posted by Paul Leggett
    These kinds of threads are always linguistically tough, especially among international players.

    In my mind, any of the four tactical conditions being met means that the sequence is a combination, but not a sacrifice.

    It seems particularly true of 1, since a forced mate trumps everything. If the move played wins by force in the shortest number of ...[text shortened]... re is the link for the full wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrifice_(chess)
    Excellent contribution!
  6. 03 Oct '12 23:24
    Originally posted by Paul Leggett
    ...
    In my mind, any of the four tactical conditions being met means that the sequence is a combination, but not a sacrifice.

    It seems particularly true of 1, since a forced mate trumps everything. If the move played wins by force in the shortest number of moves, it is simply the most correct move, and other moves would range from less accurate to o ...[text shortened]... re is the link for the full wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrifice_(chess)
    "Any of the four tactical conditions being met means that the sequence is
    a combination, but not a sacrifice."
    --Paul Leggett

    I don't think that would be true of my fourth condition:
    "compensation in the form of attacking chances against the opponent's king".
    This condition does not necessarily imply that the attack would succeed or
    that the continuation of the attack would be clear.

    Many of Mikhail Tal's games had sacrifices resulting in "compensation in the form
    of attacking chances against the opponent's king", and that 'compensation' usually
    was enough for Tal, but not for most other GMs, to win or at least to draw.
  7. 03 Oct '12 23:30
    Originally posted by Marinkatomb
    Great idea for a thread! Give me a little while and i'll contribute.

    EDIT: I might just add; 5. Sacraficing in order to set up a 'fortress'...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortress_%28chess%29
    Thanks for your contribution. A 'fortress' could be regarded as a special case
    of my second condition, more generally, a clearly drawing endgame.
  8. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    03 Oct '12 23:37
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Thanks for your contribution. A 'fortress' could be regarded as a special case
    of my second condition, more generally, a clearly drawing endgame.
    Yes i agree, but as a strategy it occupies a specific subset. Drawing by repetition or insufficient material is Worlds away from creating a fortress...
  9. 03 Oct '12 23:38
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    This thread was created because Robbie Carrobie seems unable to understand
    the concept of a positional sacrifice in another recent thread that he created.

    This post attempts to arrive at a working definition of a 'positional sacrifice'.
    To begin with, a sacrifice of material has two possible aims: to win or to draw.

    A 'positional sacrifice' is a sa ...[text shortened]... )
    it was possible (though perhaps not for Robbie) to calculate to a winning endgame.
    I would like to add this as a condition (or include it as part of an amended one):
    calculating until a draw can be forced by repetition, stalemate, etc. if the aim's
    to draw or (perhaps to put it better) to avoid losing.

    An example of this would be a sacrifice made for the purpose of drawing by
    perpetual check. Of course, this would be a sham, not a real, sacrifice.

    A problem with drawing up a provisional definition of a 'positional sacrifice'
    would be addressing the exceptional cases and semantic loopholes.
  10. 03 Oct '12 23:42 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Marinkatomb
    Yes i agree, but as a strategy it occupies a specific subset.
    Drawing by repetition or insufficient material is Worlds away
    from creating a fortress...
    I suppose that one could attempt to break down the case of a 'clearly drawing
    endgame' into various subcases (like writing a legal code), but I did not think
    that was necessary yet in my original post.

    Eventually, a comprehensive definition may include both a general condition
    and specific cases illustrating different aspects of that condition.
  11. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    03 Oct '12 23:46
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    "Any of the four tactical conditions being met means that the sequence is
    a combination, but not a sacrifice."
    --Paul Leggett

    I don't think that would be true of my fourth condition:
    "compensation in the form of attacking chances against the opponent's king".
    This condition does not necessarily imply that the attack would succeed or
    that the cont ...[text shortened]... usually
    was enough for Tal, but not for most other GMs, to win or at least to draw.
    Yeah, I think I did not fully consider what "attacking chances" means.

    The word "chances" implies uncertainty, and uncertainty involves risk. We use the word "risk" to assess actions where the outcome is unclear, and I would call that a sacrifice.

    In my mind, attacking chances that do not have a particular tactical sequence in mind strike me as being more positionally-based rather than tactical. My thinking is that there are positional aspects of the sacrifice (weak squares, weak pawns, open lines, etc) that offer attacking chances that cannot be supported by concrete tactical proof at the time the move is played.

    I fully recognize that my concept is fuzzy, so I would not expect everyone to necessarily agree with it.
  12. 04 Oct '12 00:01
    Originally posted by Paul Leggett
    Yeah, I think I did not fully consider what "attacking chances" means.

    The word "chances" implies uncertainty, and uncertainty involves risk. We use the word "risk" to assess actions where the outcome is unclear, and I would call that a sacrifice.

    In my mind, attacking chances that do not have a particular tactical sequence in mind strike me as b ...[text shortened]... ize that my concept is fuzzy, so I would not expect everyone to necessarily agree with it.
    Let's see if I understand what you mean. Do you think there's something known
    as a 'tactical combination' (or just 'combination' if you prefer) and something
    known as a 'positional sacrifice' but nothing else known as a 'tactical sacrifice'?
  13. Standard member RJHinds
    The Near Genius
    04 Oct '12 00:15
    Originally posted by Paul Leggett
    Yeah, I think I did not fully consider what "attacking chances" means.

    The word "chances" implies uncertainty, and uncertainty involves risk. We use the word "risk" to assess actions where the outcome is unclear, and I would call that a sacrifice.

    In my mind, attacking chances that do not have a particular tactical sequence in mind strike me as b ...[text shortened]... ize that my concept is fuzzy, so I would not expect everyone to necessarily agree with it.
    Perhaps we could just agree that there can be some sacrifices that may be regarded as positional as well as tactical.
  14. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    04 Oct '12 00:55
    Originally posted by Duchess64
    Let's see if I understand what you mean. Do you think there's something known
    as a 'tactical combination' (or just 'combination' if you prefer) and something
    known as a 'positional sacrifice' but nothing else known as a 'tactical sacrifice'?
    I think that's pretty close, and I hope I can elaborate reasonably. Essentially, I think real sacrifices are basically positional, whereas moves with a calculable result are sham sacrifices.

    I consider all sacrifices to be essentially positional because they change the game to create a position with opportunities or considerations in exchange for the material offered. Those considerations could be tactical in nature, but they stem from the resulting position, not from a discrete sequence of moves, which is why I consider them to be positionally-based.

    I think my view may cause confusion because I view the positional/tactical dichotomy as false-an attempt to artificially divide something holistic.

    I think most people go with the idea that "a sacrifice for an attack is tactical, and a sacrifice for a better ending is positional", and I'm good with that. It makes it easier to write about in books, and it's certainly easier to understand.
  15. 04 Oct '12 01:27 / 2 edits
    When I started to read this thread I just knew the first game posted
    would a GM game.
    We don't know why Black played Rxf3 we just know he did.

    These positional sacs are not the preseve of GM's.

    Come on boys (and girl) you will have examples from your own games.
    Most of mine are spec-sacs. I've tossed something to get muddy waters
    and the theme was tactical.

    "Perhaps we could just agree that there can be some sacrifices that
    may be regarded as positional as well as tactical."

    Well put RJ. The exact classification is very murky.

    You sacrifice not to gain material or carry out an immediate attack on the King.
    (but sooner or later you will have to attack the King - see the rules about
    winning the game. It ends in checkmate.)

    You have sacrificed to get a postional advantage.
    Gaining space, control of the centre, freeing your pieces, hemming
    his in, crippling their pawns, gain a Knight outpost, to seize an open file. (and keep it).

    You sacrifice something to get a solid positional advantage.

    You could argue that an opening gambit is a positional sac.
    I'd say on the whole no.
    For a start most will be backed up with theory.
    I have not sacced anything if I'm following theory, someone else did,
    I'm just copying him.

    Most opening gambits are based on tempo or a gain of the initiative.
    Would you class tempo as a positional advantage?

    I say (IMO) no. Time can evaporate, it is not a permanent advantage.
    A positional advantage however is permanent. It can last for 30-40 -50 moves.
    It may take that long to realise it.
    Games where tempo is the overriding factor are over under 20 moves max
    and are usually tactically based shooting at the King all the way.
    However you can use the opening tempo you gain by say saccing a pawn to set
    up a permanent positional advantage. (see what I mean about murky.)

    The Initiative. You sac for the iniative.
    Can you have the postional initiative?
    Yes. but you can also have the initiative but not the better long term position.
    (more murk).

    A genune postional sac (again IMO) is where you sac something
    to get a good middle game position.
    A position that you cannot possibly see or calculate everything that will happen
    (a spec sac without the attack.)

    You use this position to keep the lid on him and at the same time swinging
    all your pieces onto there best squares. Then you strike.

    But having read all that woffle, RJ still sums it up best.

    ""Perhaps we could just agree that there can be some sacrifices that
    may be regarded as positional as well as tactical."