Understanding before Moving 31: To exchange or not to exchange (3)

by ChessBase
6/13/2021 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 31st instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman continues to talk about the right exchange. | Photo: Tommy Grooten

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To exchange or not to exchange?

Some of my chess students have trouble to decide when it is best to exchange a piece and when to refrain from the exchange. This is a common problem. It is, for example, tempting to go for an exchange when the opponents offers it because this "simplifies" the position.

Let's say you are on the black side of a Ruy Lopez, where White's pawns are on e4, d4 and c3 while you have pawns on e5 and d6. When White now increases the pressure on your pawn on e5, it is very important not to choose the easy way out and to just exchange on d4. After all, this exchange gives White a nice mobile pawn center with pawns on e4 and d4.

In such and similar cases it is psychologically difficult not to choose the "simple" solution. If you do not exchange you might feel that the tension is too high and you might lose immediately if you overlook a resource by the opponent. But laziness is often punished in chess!

In the following position, Max Euwe, the only Dutch World Champion, got into trouble after a surprising move by his opponent Nicolas Rossolimo. What did Rossolimo play?


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