Converting Material Advantages Part 2

Converting Material Advantages Part 2

GM BryanSmith
Jul 30, 2011, 12:00 AM |
17 | For Beginners

Hello again coaches! If you haven't read Part 1, please go here.

Here you find part two of the three part series of lessons on exploiting a material advantage in chess. Like I said in part one, this is one of the most imporant skills for the young chess player to learn. Otherwise, what are a player's tactical or strategic skills worth, if once he is up a large amount of material he is unable to win? Exploiting an advantage of an extra queen, rook, or minor piece is fundamental to the game of chess.

In part one I presented a lesson about winning with an extra queen in a very basic position. This time I will show the same lesson, but with an extra rook. The position is the same in other ways, but the strategy to winning with an extra rook is somewhat different. It will take longer, and will be a little bit harder for the kids to achieve:


At higher levels of tournament play, it is standard to resign if you are down a rook in an otherwise calm position. Against an experienced player it is hopeless. But children playing against each other should definitely not resign! And, although White's position is easily won, the player still has to prove it over the board.

Once again, you should let the kids find their own path. Ask them what kind of plan White should use. They should now be acquainted with the concept of a plan, since it was introduced in the lesson with the extra queen (which, naturally, should precede this lesson).

Winning with the extra rook is somewhat more complicated than winning with the queen. There are only two open files, and the black king is preventing the rook from breaking through on them. Can White win pawns by simply attacking them, as he did in the example with the queen? Let's see...


Did White achieve anything that way ? I don't think so. He is still winning, of course, but no progress has been made toward finishing the game. The rook does not have as much mobility as the queen, so it cannot simply sweep pawns off the board.

So what is White going to do ? Try to let the kids figure it out, by giving a general plan. Note that Black has a fortress at the moment. The rook cannot invade, the pawns cannot be captured. Perhaps some bright student will see that if White could exchange off some black pawns, he would have the extra open files he needs to invade with the rook and start attacking the pawns from behind.

So, here is a possible plan:

1. Attack some black pawns, to force them to move forward where they can be exchanged.

2. Advance a white pawn and exchange it for the black pawn, opening a file.

3. Invade with the rook.

4. Attack pawns from behind until White wins one or two.

5. Create a passed pawn and queen it.

6. The final checkmate.

As you can see, it is a little more complicated, mostly because it is harder to get into Black's position. Let's see how this might work out, but keep in mind there are many ways the game could go, so if your students come up with something that is not the same, do not automatically dismiss it.


Of course, there are many ways to win this. On almost every move there are several equally strong moves for White. I would not be surprised if the above way is not the absolutely fastest way to win. But it illustrates the above plan. In your demonstration lesson, it is only important that the children are following a plan, not that it precisely follows the above example, or that it is the absolute quickest way.

By the way, there are several other possible plans here, for example White could advance the king and use some pawns to break holes in Black's fortress, and invade with the king to take some pawns; or he could advance pawns on both sides of the board to create passed pawns using the "three vs three" breakthrough. But I think the plan I used is the simplest and the quickest.

I think these "winning with a material advantage" lessons are very crucial for the development of a beginning chess player, and should not be missed. Besides teaching a crucial skill for success in tournaments, they also introduce or reinforce the important concept of the plan in chess.


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