Friday, August 21, 2009

Sacrifice or not?

In my last USCF game in Wisconsin, I played Rc8 in the following position:
I called that move a sacrifice, but many did not agree. WI expert John Becker had this to say:

[It is a pleasing combination that forces the win of material based on taking advantage of overloaded and/or unprotected pieces, but in no way, shape or form can it be considered a "sac".]

To settle the issue I sent in the question to GM Larry Evans, and he replied in the current version of Chess Life for kids: Link here

If you can't get to the link here is the question and answer:

Q: Can you please settle this debate? In this position I played 26.Rc8. Does this move fit the definition of a sacrifice?

A: A sacrifice—whether sound or unsound—is generally understood as a move that gives up material intending to get something good in return. A gambit, for example, usually is a sacrifice in the opening that offers a pawn for speedy development. Here 26.Rc8! (ignoring the knight hanging on f3) could be defined as a temporary and sound sacrifice since after 26...Rxc8 27.Nxe7+ Kg7 28.Nxc8 Qc7 29.Qc2 Qxc2 30.Bxc2 gxf3 31.gxf3 White simplifies to a winning ending a pawn ahead.

12 comments:

  1. Good game Ivan.


    Troy Zimmermann

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  2. Larry Evans can't count to two?

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  3. I defer to a GM and stand corrected.

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  4. I remember playing a guy, maybe 17 years ago, he called something like that a "sham-sac", now I can't help but think of Sham-wow! hehe.

    Technically, I consider it a sac because all good sacs seem to get something worthwhile in return anyway, but if someone wants to say that it's just a simple tactic, or too artistically lame too qualify for the word sac, I am okay with that too.

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  5. When I saw your commentary of this game, I also questioned your use of the term sac for the Rook c8 move. It is a clever tactic, and I think that as you and Larry Evans have pointed out, it does seem to meet the technical definition of the word sacrifice if you look at it like that. It is not a sacrifice in the classical sense, and perhaps that is what John was getting at. If you get your material back with interest so quickly. Normally, the benefits of a sacrifice are not so clear cut as in a positional sacrifice or a gambit out of the opening. Anyway, nice move, you must have enjoyed finding that at the board. All the best in Texas...

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  6. I will take a GMs word over an expert any day. (Even if the GM cannot count to two!)

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  7. What do you mean he can't count to two?

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  8. oh... nevermind hehe.

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  9. No one would hesitate to call this a "combination". While the term "combination" is not well defined, a number of definitions mention a combination often or usually begins with a sacrifice. (see http://slavchess.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_33_16&products_id=257 or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combination_(chess)

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  10. Hey Ivan,

    This is BenC from the waukesha chess club. I just created the waukeshachessclub.blogspot.com I was wondering if you could post this on your links. I hope everything is going well with you in Texas!

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  11. Hi Ivan,
    Very nice game. You were dominating the board. We keep playing chess because of moves like Rc8. I wondered how much time you invested on it making sure the tactics would work. A bail out plan would be to simply play Nh4 but where is the fun on that.

    Andy

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  12. Interesting position. I'm posting it to the Adaptive Tactics Server.

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