Positional Sacrifice

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Dec 6, 2011

A positional sacrifice implies giving away material for long-term positional advantages. Such exchange operations don’t lead to a straightforward win of the game or material. While any piece can be positionally sacrificed, the most common victims are pawns and exchanges (i.e. rooks). There are all sorts of advantages one can gain by performing a positional sacrifice: control over key squares/files/ranks, rapid development, spoiling the placement of the opponent’s pieces and his pawn structure and so on.

As you might be guessing, positional sacrifices are risky. If the advantages gained don’t compensate for the invested material, your plan will fail. Therefore, before sacrificing you have to:

1.      Carefully evaluate the position, including: decide whether the sacrifice is a must-play one, or you have other options; how significant are the benefits? ; what is your plan after the sacrifice?; calculate variations. The more experience and positional understanding you have, the quicker this procedure can be performed. Some sacrifices can be made “with your hand”, i.e. in blitz mode. Nonetheless, don’t be in a rush to play such a flashy move.

2.      Check your psychological state. Any positional sacrifice involves taking risks, and you must make sure you are not afraid of that. If you don’t feel confident enough, it is better to avoid sacrificing. Otherwise even a correct sacrifice may lead you to a loss.

Also, you must be prepared for the possible changes in the course of the game. For example, if previously the position was quiet, after the sacrifice things can become complicated, and you will have to play very precisely and consistently, without making a single mistake. However, in some positions the pattern of the game remains the same even though a sacrifice has been made.

Today I will share with you one more game from the European Team Chess Championship’11. Two positional sacrifices took place there. In the first place a pawn was offered for a few positional pluses: space advantage, bad bishop on c8, blocked pawn on d7 and some weak dark squares. Then an exchange was given up for the opportunity of placing the knight on d6, thus cutting Black’s position into two virtually unconnected parts. In both cases the sacrifices were justified, as the advantages gained were substantial enough.


  • 2 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

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  • 4 years ago


    I’ve sacrificed a knight in a correspondence game I’m currently playing. I just hope against hope it turns out to be a positional sacrifice and not the massive blunder I thought it was when I realised what I’d doneEmbarassed.

  • 4 years ago


    Interesting game...
  • 4 years ago


    Is this course for begineer?

  • 4 years ago


    Are there any easy ways to understanding tempos ?

  • 4 years ago


    congrulations for game! :) i think i must use also 9.Nad in my games.. i make so many mistakes in the beginning of games :S

    thanks :)

  • 4 years ago


    I See. :] Nice. Thanks For Helping Us. :]

  • 4 years ago


    Thaks a lot!

  • 4 years ago


    Dear Natalia,

           Amazing! I love it when you have mention also the need for us to evaluate the psychological readiness of the player which means that chess is not only a mere science but of the Art also. Thank you very much madame. I gladly appreciate your concept. May God bless you more madame.


    Respectfully yours,

    Robert Funtenares

  • 4 years ago


    natalia can give me a positional sacrifice.

  • 4 years ago


    I would have done the same at move 30. Is f4 best? Also, perhps better than 32 a x b3 is 32 B x b3. 

  • 4 years ago


    Nice article, and good game!

  • 4 years ago


    good stuff!

  • 4 years ago


    what a raw game its always nice to know im not the only genius out there

  • 4 years ago


    A solid article. I enjoyed the game. My only problem with it is that it almost makes me think of a chess textbook, containing definitions and ideas you hear in almost any chess book. For this reason it didn't really stand out to me.

  • 4 years ago


    The knight,bishop,and rook gives us a clasic example of teamwork at it's best.Surprised

  • 4 years ago


    mating net huh?

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    This is a fine game to illustrate the title. The positional theme after 22.Rxd4! threads through the game. Just one thing: In the note after 32...Ra8, ( 32... f5 33. Rf3 ( 33. Rg3+ Kh8 34. Nxf7+ Kh7 35. Nd6 f4 ) 33... Kg7 34. Nxf5+ Kg6 35. Nd6 f5 36. Rf4 Kg7 37. Kh2 ( 37. Nxf5+? Rxf5 38. Rxf5 d6 ) ) the last move (d6) must be d5.

  • 4 years ago


    Nice game. Smile

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