Gaining Material

It has been a few weeks since we’ve played chess, so hopefully both the weather cooperates and there is enough interest to have some games tomorrow! We’ll be gathering at Pulpit Rock Brewing Company at 6:30pm to go over any fun things we’ve learned over the last few weeks.

It seems like every day I’m finding something new to learn.  Today’s puzzle was no exception! For some reason, I found the puzzle today to be very challenging, and could not get it. 

Material Gain

The puzzle today involved a situation in which white can come out a minor piece up. The puzzle began as follows.

Doesn’t h4 seem like a good pawn move?

It appears that this position is about equal for both white and black, but white currently has about a 7 point Stockfish advantage (if white can keep it). Of the candidate moves, you would probably see h4 as one, which gets the pawn out of danger and provides more support to the g5 pawn. If you thought the game was somewhat even, that this move would put both sides back to more of an even game!

To maintain a distinct advantage, we should go with another candidate move that seems to be simply exchanging a bishop for a knight: Bxf4. After black completes the exchange with exf4 what next? How can the strong battery that white has developed on the d-file be used to white’s advantage? Let’s force black to make a decision about his bishop on d6 by advancing our e-pawn: e5.

You can play around with this position for a whle, but the best that black can hope for is to lose a bishop for a pawn (with possible equal exchanges to follow). In the end, black may as well accept the pawn that is attacking it with Bxe4.

Now, using our battery, we get the bishop lingering on d7 with Qxd7. If black decides to exchange queens at this moment, white will end up with a rook on the 7th rank, which would be a nice positional advantage for white.

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