Thursday, February 14, 2008

Trading a bad for a good piece


Ten days ago I had a win as White in a club championship match. As you can see, White has a superior position. In spite of equal material, Shredder rates White 2 pawn units better. But it is funny that I did not play one of the moves Shredder rates best here: Be4, a4, Bh7+, c4, and even h3. I simply cannot figure out a sense behind these moves.

What I played is Bf5, offering the piece I considered worst of all my pieces against his best piece, the Bishop d7. My main idea was bringing my Queen into play with various threats against uncovered pieces and pawns. The only drawback is that I lose the advantage of the bishop pair. But this is more than compensated by his loss of best piece. He took on f5, Queen took back, protecting the Knight with g6 was forced, and now my Queen entered his seventh rank, Qd7, forking the unprotected Knight and the pawn. After that, my game was won.

The interesting point here is how differently humans and computers look at a position. Shredder did not even consider Bf5, yet I am convinced that this was my best move because it is part of a clear plan.

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At 1:25 PM, Blogger Christian said...

Perhaps Shredder's calculations here translate into what a human player would call "keeping the tension in the position". Exchanging bishops simplifies the game, and even though Qd7 wins a pawn, Black can simplify further with Na5-Nb3-Nxd2, and suddenly his rooks become active, chasing your exposed queen and thus gaining time.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Phaedrus said...

Hello Mousetrapper,

I cannot understand why you would think that Bd3 is your worst piece. Can you give me the reasoning behind this judgement?

At 4:00 PM, OpenID Sciurus said...

Well played! My first impression was actually that I rather liked White's bishop and did not consider it as weak. I see White's pieces as much more active here and would try not to exchange them. Therefore, some of the pawn moves Shredder suggested like a4 which would open up the game a bit actually make sense to me, because a more open pawn structure might help White to leverage his advantage better.

Nevertheless, I believe you made a good decision because you had a clear plan of what you wanted to achieve. I think that in many cases a plan does not necessary have to be the best possible to succeed - there might not even a single best plan.

BTW, how did Shredder's evaluation change after you exchanged the B?

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Christian said...

Christian: Yes, Black could have played better but he didn't :)
Phaedrus: Because it hinders the Queen and has a counterplayer in Bd7, but the main idea was taking the strongest piece of Black out of the game.
Sciurus: +0.8 after Na5 Qxc7. Shredder really does not like Black's Nb3. I agree that a4 would have been a stronger plan.


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