Bojkov: The true value of the pieces

by Prathamesh Mokal
3/19/2015 – Don't we know it already: nine points for the queen, five for the rook, etc.? But judging the relative value of pieces in situations with material imbalances is a very complex task. GM Dejan Bojkov helps you understand it with a whopping forty-one instructional videos. His latest DVD is both entertaining and instructional – a must buy says chess trainer Prathamesh Mokal.

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Dejan Bojkov: Material Imbalances deciphered: The True Value of the Pieces

Review by Prathamesh Mokal

What matters more, the nominal value of pieces or the relative value? Every chess player faces this basic problem of choice, especially during the transition from beginner to intermediate phase. The problem of choice gets more complex during the transition from intermediate to advanced level of play. Grandmaster Bojkov gives some wonderful instructions and guides you in this DVD to help you make a better choice in your game.

Every beginner is taught the nominal value of pieces, for example nine points for the queen, five for the rook and so on. But as you progress further many crucial decisions in your games are based not on the nominal value of pieces, but the relative one. The queen may nominally have one point less than two rooks but with the opponent’s king exposed, its relative power increases substantially. Judging the correct relative value of the pieces in situations with material imbalances is a very complex task which makes even masters falter at times. The only way to get better here is study and practise.

Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov, former Bulgarian Champion and trainer of former Women’s World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova, presents a very interesting mix of classical and modern examples to explain the various subtleties related to a select few material imbalances. The DVD mainly covers the following imbalances - Three Minor Pieces versus Queen, Two Rooks versus Queen; Rook, Minor Piece and Pawn versus Queen; Two Rooks versus three Minor Pieces; Rook versus two Minor Pieces and so on. According to the author he has tried to cover those imbalances which are seen quite often and which are very close to each other. Also they are those imbalances that do not give immediate decisive advantage to any side. He states clearly, that the area of study being vast, it is not possible to cover all imbalances in a five hour DVD. Therefore he recommends DVDs by authors like Mueller and Ziegler to study the other imbalances that are not covered in his DVD.

Bojkov introduces every imbalance in the best way possible, with the most instructive example.

There are a whopping forty-one instructional videos apart from the summary and test positions. With every example comes valuable advice and knowledge of subtle points. For example, at one stage the author apprises the viewers, “Technically speaking, the queen is usually equal to two rooks, although 5+5=10 for the Rooks is greater than 9 for the queen. Usually the queen can hold the fort in the middle game, but as the endgame approaches the rooks become stronger. So naturally with two rooks versus queen you should try to aim for the endgame.”

There is also some interesting trivia in the DVD. For example Bojkov explains: “Did you know that queen versus rook, piece and pawn is also called ‘Lasker compensation’? The reason is that in 1925 it was Lasker who first used it convincingly against Ilyin Zhenevsky. I was given the question in the University exam for going into National Sports Academy. One of the assistants asked me, “What is Lasker compensation?” I was lucky since I had seen the book on Lasker few days ago in which this compensation arose.” A modest recollection!

Here is an instructional extract from the DVD:

[Event "Cap d'Agde KO"] [Site "Cap d'Agde"] [Date "2003.10.30"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B33"] [WhiteElo "2766"] [BlackElo "2777"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2n2b1k/4q2p/2rpp2r/pN2p3/P1P1Pp2/1B3Q1P/3R1PP1/3R2K1 w - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "33"] [EventDate "2003.10.27"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventRounds "4"] [EventCountry "FRA"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2004.02.03"] {In the middlegame quite often the Queen is stronger than 2 Rooks. The reason usually is that Rooks lack open files and targets to attack. The Queen is capable of finding targets especially with the help of another piece. Of course coordination of pieces is also important.} 30. c5 $1 {No wonder there is a tactical way for White to convert his advantage.} Rxc5 (30... dxc5 31. Rd7 (31. Rd8 $5 {[%cal Gd1d7] Should also give good chances for win.} Kg8 32. R1d7 Qg5 33. Re8 {[%csl Yc8,Yf8][%cal Gd7d8]} c4 34. Rdd8 Rf6 35. Bc2 Nb6 36. Nd4 { [%csl Rh7][%cal Rc2h7]} exd4 37. e5 Qxe5 (37... Rf7 38. h4 Qxe5 39. Qxc6 d3 40. Bxd3 cxd3 41. Qxb6 f3 42. g3 Qe1+ 43. Kh2 Qf1 {[%csl Rg2][%cal Rf1g2]} 44. Rxf8+ Rxf8 45. Qxe6+ $18 {[%csl Rg8][%cal Re6e5,Rd8d7]}) 38. Qg4+ $18) 31... Qg5 32. Rf7 Be7 33. Rd7 Kg8 (33... c4 34. Na7 Rd6 35. Rfxe7 (35. Rc7 $5) 35... Nxe7 36. Rxd6 cxb3 37. Qxb3 Rg6 38. Qf3 $16 {[%csl Re5,Re6,Rh8]}) 34. Na7 Kxf7 35. Nxc6 $18 {[%csl Gb3,Gc6,Gd7]}) 31. Nxd6 Nxd6 32. Rxd6 Qxd6 33. Rxd6 Bxd6 34. Qd3 {[%csl Rc5,Rd6,Rh6,Rh8] There is total lack of coordination between Black's pieces. White is winning.} Rc6 (34... Bf8 35. Qd8 $18 {[%csl Rf7,Rf8] [%cal Rd8e8,Re8f7]}) 35. Qb5 Rc1+ 36. Kh2 Rf6 37. Qe8+ Bf8 (37... Rf8 38. Qxe6 $18 {[%csl Rd6,Re5]}) 38. Bxe6 f3 {This obviously cannot change anything now. Black has no pieces for attack, so white king finds a path to enter into Black's camp without any real danger for White.} (38... Rc2 39. Qd8 Kg7 40. Qd7+ Kh8 41. Bf5 Bg7 42. Qe8+ Rf8 43. Qh5 h6 44. Qg6 Kg8 45. Qh7+ Kf7 46. Bg6+ Kf6 47. Bh5 $18) 39. g4 Rf1 40. Kg3 Rg1+ 41. Kh4 Kg7 (41... Rh6+ 42. Kg5 Rg6+ 43. Kf5 $18 Kg7 44. Qf7+ Kh6 45. Qxf8+ $18) 42. g5 Rf4+ 43. Kh5 Rg2 44. Bf5 Rxf5 45. exf5 Rxf2 46. Qxe5+ 1-0

At the end, the author presents six test positions in interactive video format. The test positions are clearly related to the material already discussed on the DVD. The supplementary database has a few more examples and studies pertaining to the topic.

The customary interactive training that includes video feedback corresponding to the move you choose.

I don’t know if it is the topic, the author or the examples, but the lessons do not get dry anywhere! I enjoyed the full DVD including the test positions wholeheartedly. There are a couple of amazing studies as well as many complex middle game positions. The last test position was the toughest one for me and I messed it up.

A small extract from the author’s summary of this DVD will put light on its instructional value. Bojkov says, “Three minor pieces versus queen or two minor pieces versus rook usually prevail if the conditions are right, when pieces have time to occupy strong posts or outposts. Then the pieces have a chance to slowly build threats, mostly against the pawns. And then the queen or the rook finds it hard to defend such targets or pawns.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the knowledge from this DVD is firmly entrenched in the viewer’s brain, there will be a substantial increase in the understanding of the game and eventually in the level of play. Although the DVD is classified in the ‘advanced players’ section in the ChessBase Shop it has something useful for all levels of players, except for complete beginners. It is both entertaining and instructional. A must buy!

Sample Video: Dejan Bojkov: Material Imbalances deciphered

Dejan Bojkov: Material Imbalances
deciphered: The True Value of the Pieces

  • Video running time: 4 hours 50 minutes (English)
  • With interactive training including video feedback
  • Exclusive training database with selected 50 games
  • Including CB 12 – Reader

Price: €27.90
€23.45 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$25.43 (without VAT)
ISBN: 978-3-86681-387-8

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

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Prathamesh Mokal is an International Master and FIDE Trainer from India. He won bronze in the Commonwealth Junior Championships 2003 and was joint Asian Junior Champion in the same year. He got his first Grandmaster norm in 2009 and scored an unprecedented 100% in the FIDE Trainer’s exam in 2012. He is a renowned coach based in Pune, India and he is also a Martial Arts enthusiast with a Black Belt 1st Dan in Isshinryu Karate as well as Matayoshi Kobudo.
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