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Two Pawns for a Knight?


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #1

    TonyGas

    Hi chess peeps,

     although I've been playing chess for many years on and off, I'm still relatively mediocre. Recently I have been experimenting with taking two pawns whilst sacrificing a knight. I find it can work quite well, especially if I can stop my opponent from castling in the process. In fairness, I haven't tried it against anyone with a high rating but I would like your opinions on this tactic. Thank you.


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #2

    Graw81

    Well, two pawns for a knight can be good depending on the position. As you said, you do it to take away your opponents right to castle which if you have a good attack,initiative or compensation of some sort could be lethal. On the otherhand if you cant compensate for the material imbalance or if you lag behind in development etc your just giving your opponent an advantage to some degree.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #3

    likesforests

    In general, a knight is worth 3.25 pawns, so this is a poor trade unless there is additional compensation such as exposing the enemy king. Have a look at some Petroff Defense / Cochrane Gambit games... you'll find those interesting. It's basically an opening line where White does exactly that and perhaps will give you some ideas.


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #4

    neneko

    counting points and generalizing wich trades are worth doing gets pointless in any real chess game since a positional advantage may be worth sacrificing even the queen for
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #5

    Graw81

    neneko wrote: counting points and generalizing wich trades are worth doing gets pointless in any real chess game since a positional advantage may be worth sacrificing even the queen for

     Yes i do agree. The real advantage/disadvantages lie in the imbalances, rather than ''points''. Sometimes for example a bad bishop in an endgame can be worth nothing at all!


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #6

    TonyGas

    Thanks for your comments, I'll be sure to look at those openings you mentioned Likesforests. What I like about it is the fact that most opponents at my level don't expect it, and it can really throw them. I also find it very satisfying to see the opponents king being chased around the board.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #7

    NorrisB

    likesforests wrote:

    In general, a knight is worth 3.25 pawns, so this is a poor trade unless there is additional compensation such as exposing the enemy king. Have a look at some Petroff Defense / Cochrane Gambit games... you'll find those interesting. It's basically an opening line where White does exactly that and perhaps will give you some ideas.


     where did you get a number like 3.25?

     Generally a pawn is worth 1 pt N=3 so your losing 1 pt.  


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #8

    TonyGas

    I think that isn't very relevant though. Its not draughts is it? Ive won (and lost) games over the years, without a piece being captured. Sometimes you can open the opponents defence right up by sacrificing a pawn, however many points its worth.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #9

    TonyGas

    Sorry, I meant knight, its been a long day!
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #10

    likesforests

    NorrisB> where did you get a number like 3.25?

     

    Larry Kaufman, a chess master and statistician. He analyzed a huge database of games to determine that, on average, a knight is worth 3.25 pawns. 

     

    The Evaluation of Material Imbalances is available online.

     

    TonyGas> I think that isn't very relevant though. Sometimes you can...

     

    Sometimes a pawn is worth a queen. But in general, if you swap a queen for a pawn you're going to lose. Swapping a knight for two pawns is a smaller error, but it's an error unless there's additional compensation to make up for the material loss.

     

    TonyGas> What I like about it is the fact that most opponents at my level don't expect it, and it can really throw them.

     

    While I sometimes hope my opponent will make a mistake, I only play moves that I consider sound against my opponent's best reply. In the case of minor piece sacrifices, I must see positional compensation. Like exposing the enemy king, when I have pieces nearby that can take place in the attack, to score mate, material, or perpetual check. The exception would be a lost game, because then there's nothing to lose by gambling!


    Of course, if this approach is working for you, then that's great.  :)
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #12

    PawnFork

    Unequal trades can make your opponent think more.  Depends what you do with it I guess.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #13

    ka49s

    Great link, likesforests. Thanks.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #14

    Am3692

    2 minor pieces for a rook and a pawn never works for me, but in many situations, trading a minor piece for pawn or two is good or necessary. it is all about position when it comes to sac'ing.


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #15

    Dahan

    Really, it's all about give and take. Would I give up a pawn for better position? Sure, usually. We all would. A knight? Well, the position would have to be pretty damn good. Seems awfully situational.

     


  • 6 years ago · Quote · #16

    rich

    You're losing out slightly there.

  • 6 years ago · Quote · #17

    Nachos

    in blitz i usually sac a bishop/knight to open up the middle of the kingside pawns after they have castled. then mount a kingside attack before the difference in material comes back to haunt me

  • 6 years ago · Quote · #18

    TonyGas

    good tactics, but can be risky when playing someone who is a bit clued up.

  • 6 years ago · Quote · #19

    JG27Pyth

    Tony... basically, as a general rule, a Knight for two pawns + losing the right to castle is a slightly bad idea -- ... that's according to the collective wisdom of at least the past 200 years of chess.  However, one of the beauties of chess is that general rules takes a back seat to the situational realities of the present position.

    Your idea is very aggressive, attacking, asymmeterical, unbalanced. It should lead to fun games. Here's why it tends not to work against stronger players: 

    You need to get more than just a non-castling king, but a real advantage in development, initiative, and attack, maybe a passed pawn, an exposed King something to really work with... If you don't have some real attacking advantages working for you after that sac, you're in trouble... it's hard for you to now build up an attack, since you're short a piece. Your opponent's mobility will probably be rather good (you've cleared away some pawns for him after all) and as you try to develop your attack, your opponent just exchanges away your attackers, this favors him, as he trades pieces his extra minor piece gets more and more powerful... you've also got two extra pawns to work with, but if they aren't real good it's hard to do anything with them... why is it hard to do anything with the two extra pawns? Because as you've discovered, it's quite easy to sac a minor piece for two pawns, your opponent can usually bail himself out of trouble by giving back the minor piece. (Weaker players tend not think this way... for some reason when they get a material advantage they often cling to it harder than when material is even.) And he gets to decide when, how, and if, he'll do that. He's got the upper hand.

  • 6 years ago · Quote · #20

    TonyGas

    thank you. this has developed into an interesting thread.


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