Trade on Your Terms
Hi Chess Friends,
A few years ago I taught at a Wisconsin Chess Academy camp, and we ended the week with a big simul. I was the lowest rated of the three players circling the room, making moves against the many campers. Afterwards, I remember GM Josh Friedel, the highest rated player in our trio, remarking on how impressed he was with the youngest camper. This kid, about 5 years old, lost the game, but played an excelent positional move, in a position something like this one:
Rather than trading rooks on d3 or d7 and entering a difficult endgame, the kid played Rd6. He was only willing to trade rooks if we were willing to undouble his c-pawns for him. That sort of positional play, demonstrated immense talent for a five year old. Sure enough, a few years later, Awonder Liang, won the World Championship in the age 10 and under category.
While Awonder's move didn't change the result of the game, there are frequently winning tactics based on making sure a trade improves your pawn structure in a dramatic way. See if you can find the move that won my blitz game today.
On a higher level, GM Eljanov used this technique to win a game at the most recent World Cup. In the position below, black has a lot of activity that would provide compensation for a pawn, if not for white's next move.