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Or is it just me? My knight can take a rook or it can take a pawn. If it takes the rook, I lose my beloved knight. If it takes the pawn, it lives to fight another day. I take the pawn! Is my choice justifiable?
It's highly situational. A rook alone can mate a king whereas even two knights cannot unless the opponent is willing (this assumes no pawns are on the board). Sometimes it may not be wise to take the rook, like giving the opponent connected passed pawns on the sixth. A knight on the sixth is usually worth exchanging a rook for, and sometimes for an exchange sac one can play a rook to the sixth and establish a strong there that would really cramp the opponent. Petrosian and Botvinnik have a couple of such games where they did that.
Here's an example of Botvinnik willingly giving up the exchange for a strong initiative:
Edit: wait, the example exchange with Petrosian was rook for bishop with the idea of making way to place a knight on an excellent square so goes beyond the scope of this post.
"2nd Gashimov Memorial, Round 2 - Host: GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko"
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