Upgrade to Chess.com Premium!

The Positional Rxe6 Sacrifice

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jul 29, 2012
  • | 13413 views
  • | 27 comments

Today we are going to talk about a relatively common positional exchange sacrifice - Rxe6 (or Rxe3 for Black). As a rule, a player achieves two main goals with such a sacrifice: 1) eliminates the opponent's Bishop and therefore completely dominates on the light squares (or dark squares for Black).  2) makes the position of the opponent's King more vulnerable.

Even though this concept is pretty simple, it was virtually unknown even for the World's best players before WWII.  In cases where they sacrificed an exchange positionally, the resulting attack was so strong that the outcome of the game was never in question.  Look at the next famous example.  Even though technically the Rxe6 sacrifice was positional, in reality White attack was so strong and irresistible that I cannot even call the Rxe6 move a sacrifice!


Enter Tigran Petrosian and Ulf Andersson. These two great chessplayers are well known for their positional exchange sacrifices. I will never forget the story which was told by an older master who played against the great Petrosian.  It was the King's Indian Defense and at some point a part of the position looked like this ( the material was even, but I don't recall the exact position):

So, the master who played Black asked Petrosian why he didn't play Bg5 (remember that there were many other pieces, including Queens, so the Bg5 move made sense). Petrosian smiled and said that he figured out Black's cunning trap.  "What trap??" asked the master in amazement. "You would trap my Bishop by playing Rf4! Then you play h6 and force me to capture your Rook by Bxf4 so after exf4 your Bg7 becomes very active and points at my King."
Here is one of Petrosian's iconic exchange sacrifices:
The following games of Ulf Andersson against two great World Champions are similar to some extent. In both of them he sacrificed an exchange on e3 in the early middle game to dominate on the dark squares.  But the similarities end here.  While Kasparov skilfully neutralized Black's initiative and Andersson suffered throughout the whole game and was lucky to escape for a draw, Karpov's game was different.  The black pieces were so active there that the World Champion had to return the exchange but still he wasn't able to save the game:
In the second part of this mini-series we'll see how modern Grandmasters incorporate this sacrifice in their games, some of them so frequently
that it is really 'business as usual.'

Comments


  • 2 years ago

    Angry-Dragon

    Once, Mikhail Botvinik had told that the future of world chess is in Kasparov's hands

  • 2 years ago

    JoeTheV

    This definitely shows why Petrosian is my favorite player.

  • 2 years ago

    Artemi

    that's what makes Petrosian exceptional....he had done this many times in his games!!!!

  • 2 years ago

    knight33-G

    Thanks! Very helpful article.

  • 2 years ago

    Eyoeyo

    Ulf Andersson think he can beat kasparov with such bold move Rxe6 but at end result are draw.Nice defence G.Kasparov!

  • 2 years ago

    vande_matram

    nice one..

  • 2 years ago

    tanmay_chakrabarti

    nice article.

  • 2 years ago

    Milan__78

    many many bad moves in all these games

  • 2 years ago

    kcsmith169

    harun 2020 makes a great point...as much as these games are about exchange sacs, they are also about the fact that the side sac'ing the exchange was trying to create an advantageous control of a color complex based around the Bishop they retained that was on the same color as the Bishop for which a Rook was sacrificed (in every game).

    From this, one can infer that a Rook for Knight sac would often be based on a position in which the sacrificer retains a Knight(s) in order to take advantage of a pawn structure that is vulnerable to the depredations of his remaining Knight(s) following a Rook for Knight sacrifice. That is, it may not be a color complex issue in this case, but a pawn structure issue.

    GM Gserper, if you have time to comment, does that make sense or am I confusing the issue?

  • 2 years ago

    harun2020

    In the kasparov game, kasparov immediately started attacking f6, blacks weak black point. He uses the open f-file to keep the pressure. By move 25 he has two knights on black squares, obstructing blacks bishop, pressuring an exchange.

    On move 38 he enters the 7-th rank, another black square. Again not giving black the chance to use his black bishop advantage.

  • 2 years ago

    ChocolateTeapot

    I have seen Petrosian's exchange sac before. Moves like that make me feel inadequate.

  • 2 years ago

    nyLsel

    There's nothing White can do to break the fortress of Black neither do Black's. However, nice positional sacrifice by Andersson!

  • 2 years ago

    Jtenfiouze

    Pas mal !!

  • 2 years ago

    CoolChess2006

    Why it is a draw

  • 2 years ago

    chessninja77

    great article

  • 2 years ago

    kcsmith169

    Great explanation of how new ideas are born and develop over time; thanks for another insightful article and looking forward to your future discourse on how defense and offense have evolved with respect to this particular sac.

  • 2 years ago

    gitz6666

    interesting! thanks

  • 2 years ago

    titan23

    Nice

  • 2 years ago

    falcon79

    great article

  • 2 years ago

    Devilbyday

    Great article, thanks

Back to Top

Post your reply: